Hello my faithful readers. For those of you who have been keeping up with the blog of late, you’ll know what time it is. For those who haven’t, well, you’ll still know what time it is. That’s right, World Cup Wednesday is back again, but this time it’s the 2018 Season Finale. Yes, you heard me right, or rather, read correctly, this is it, the Final Edition of World Cup Wednesday for this year, and in reality, for just over four years. The World Cup has finished, the final two matches have been played. And here we are, at the very end of the 2018 tournament, just over a month since the first edition of World Cup Wednesday, with the eighth and final edition of World Cup Wednesday. So, as always, let’s get into the matches.
Belgium v England: The Third Place Playoff. In all honesty, this game is realistically unnecessary, as it’s really just determining who the bigger loser of these two losing teams is. But that aside, Belgium wrapped this game up very quickly, and very easily. With a goal inside the first four minutes of the match, it was all too easy for Belgium to take the win from their position. Belgium strengthened their defence, even going so far as to bring on another defender for an attacker. And England flailed. They got desperate, trying whatever they could to net just one goal. But after changing a decent number of personnel in their starting eleven, and with Harry Kane struggling to make an impact, most likely due to an injury he picked up against Colombia in the Round Of 16, England just couldn’t break the Belgian defence. And after another goal late in the match, it was all over. Belgium took third place, a historical milestone for them, and England went home fourth, which still wasn’t all too bad for them, a stellar World Cup for both teams.
France v Croatia: The Final. The most spectacular match of football you will see in the world. This is the moment that everyone waits for, that every team in the World Cup so desperately wants to get to. It’s what each country works so hard for in the tournament, and it always provides top quality entertainment. This year was no different in that aspect. But it was so much more than so many of the World Cup Finals before it. France. Croatia. Both of these teams were fighting that hardest they ever had for their country. It was France’s first World Cup Final in 12 years, after losing their last one against Italy back in 2006. And France were the favourites, having won the Cup once before back in 1998. But for Croatia, this was a historical moment which they would never forget. Their first World Cup Final in 88 years of World Cup History. It was just monumental that they reached the Final, however, the occasion would become all the greater if they had won. And the match was a brilliant one. The Closing Ceremony was well put together, headlined by Nicky Jam, Era Istrefi, and the one and only Will Smith. After a good quality performance of the World Cup Song Live It Up, the Closing Ceremony was over, and the match began. Both teams were strong, but Croatia looked stronger at the start of the Final. However, after the first own goal in a World Cup Final was scored by Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic, France picked up their game. A controversial penalty decision made by the VAR 20 minutes later gave the French side a 2-1 lead, after Ivan Perisic had scored for the Croatians 10 minutes before. And the scores were left that way at half time. The second half saw even more history created. French midfielder Paul Pogba put France 3-1 up in the 59th, with a goal from 19 year old Kylian Mbappe making it 4-1 just 6 minutes later, making him the youngest player to score in a World Cup Final since Pele in 1958. Croatian striker Mandzukic managed to put another one in for Croatia in the 69th, but it wasn’t enough, with France winning the World Cup Final 4-2, the highest scoring game since England edged West Germany 4-2 back in the 1966 World Cup Final. After a World Cup Final filled with drama, including the game being halted after four pitch invaders ran rampant on the pitch, France reigned victorious, and took the glory of the World Cup home with them. Croatia should still be very proud of themselves as a team and as a nation, after their best World Cup tournament in history. The Final was really a true marvel, and a congratulations to both nations for their efforts.
Highlight Of The Final Two Matches: The highlight was most definitely the Final. The match was a thriller, and a high scoring one at that. Seeing both teams do everything they could to win this, the most coveted match in the world, is something that is absolutely brilliant to watch. It was filled with historical moments, moments of pure class, goals that were just spectacular, and some of the most talented players in the world. It was truly a wondrous match, a marvel to watch, and there is really nothing else quite like it.
History Made: There was a fair bit of history made in the World Cup Final this year. Croatia created history after by playing their first ever World Cup Final. Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic created history after scoring the first ever own goal in World Cup History. The VAR was used to award France a penalty for the first time in a Final. This was also the first World Cup Final in which pitch invaders made their way onto the pitch during play, disrupting the match and forcing it to be brought to a halt. Kylian Mbappe was the youngest player, at 19 years of age, to score at a World Cup Final since Pele, who scored 2 goals in the World Cup Final in 1958 at the same age. It was also the first time in decades that a goal was scored in a final from outside the box, in this case the scorer being French midfielder Paul Pogba. And finally, this was the highest scoring Final since the 1966 World Cup Final in England, which England won 4-2 after edging West Germany as they were then in extra time, with the score for this year’s World Cup Final being 4-2 to France, who did it in regular time. A World Cup Final for the history books for sure.
So that’s it. The World Cup is over. The Final is complete, and France have taken home the coveted World Cup, and the titles that go with it. It’s been a great one, but that’s the end of World Cup Wednesday for this year’s edition of the FIFA World Cup. Little hint though: there may be a World Cup Wrap-Up in the works for release next Wednesday to finish it up. But as for World Cup Wednesday, it’s goodbye for now, and see you all in just over four years in the nation of Qatar, when the World Cup will be making history once again by being played in Winter (Summer here in Australia), in November and December. But for now, France are your 2018 FIFA World Cup Champions. So for the final time for this year, this has been World Cup Wednesday, signing off. Hope you enjoyed the World Cup!