One thing is certain – the 2018 World Cup brought a lot of innovation, drama, and surprises. From technology being referees’ best ally in questionable plays for the first time to underdogs eliminating plenty of favorites, this World Cup will undoubtedly go down in history as the most exciting one yet. Here are the three most memorable things in our opinion.
- Technology and sport = VAR
The World Cup in Russia will certainly be remembered as the first one with FIFA using VAR, or the Video Assistant Referee. All matches at the Cup were supported by an additional referee team consisting of the video assistant referee, VAR, and his three assistants, AVAR1, AVAR2, and AVAR3 who were all top FIFA match officials.
They had access to 33 broadcast cameras (some of them were super slow-motion cameras, and some even ultra slow-motion cameras), and two offside cameras. This enabled referees to review plays which were questionable, like goals and fouls, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents, etc.
FIFA said that 99.3% of questionable plays were called correctly after the VAR reviews. For example, two goals initially ruled offside were given, and seven penalties awarded.
- France and Croatia in the final
The 2018 World Cup held in Russia ended on the 15th of July, with France taking home the coveted “Jules Rimet Trophy” after defeating Croatia 4-2. This was the second time that the French national team had become world champions, precisely twenty years after Didier Deschamps, the current national team manager, lifted this trophy as team captain in 1998 in Paris.
World Cup fans and football lovers around the world had the privilege of watching the final as it should be – 90 minutes of pure football magic. France reached the final as one of the favorites, having eliminated Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium in the knockout stage. Croatia were the underdogs with their golden football generation who managed to eliminate Denmark, Russia, and England on their way to the finals.
After only 18 minutes, the French national team took the lead when the ball was diverted by Mario Mandžukić’s head into the left corner of his team’s net after Antoine Griezmann’s free kick. Croatia scored an equalizer ten minutes later when Ivan Perišić fired a left-footed strike to the right corner of the net. Ten minutes after that Griezmann scored the penalty, giving France the advantage of 2-1 at half-time.
Paul Pogba solidified the French lead in the 59th minute, and Kylian Mbappé scored the final goal for France six minutes later. Croatia managed to score its final goal in the 69th minute, ending the game at 4-2 for France. This was also the highest-scoring final of the World Cup since 1966.
- Disappointing favorites
For the first time in history, Germany did not make it past the group stage. Former World Cup winners did not reach the knockout stage and had to go home empty-handed. The German national team only needed to score a goal in the final group stage match, but quite unexpectedly, South Korea wins with 2-0 and sends Germany home.
Two most popular and probably best players in the history of football – Messi and Ronaldo, failed to bring their teams to the knockout stage, and will probably end their football careers without the only trophy they respectively failed to obtain.