WORLD CUP 2018: MY LIST
A very short post on the recently concluded FIFA World Cup.
Best Match: Belgium 2-1 Brazil
Lots of great candidates. Spain-Portugal, Japan-Belgium, France-Argentina, Russia-Croatia, France-Croatia but I think Belgium-Brazil was the best of the lot. Martinez clearly outwitted Tite with a back 4 and Brazil were overwhelmed in the 1st half by waves of Belgian counterattacks. Miranda-Lukaku battle was a throwback to the days where hard-men centre-halves went toe to toe with burly number 9s.
Tite adjusted at half-time and it was the turn of Brazil to dominate the Red Devils. They were under the cosh for a long time but held out quite somewhat comfortably in the end. Brazil clearly missed Casemiro and a midfield conductor like De Bruyne. Hope Arthur Melo solves that problem in the Copa America next summer. Hazard and Lukaku were outstanding but the man of the match was Courtois.
Best Player: Luka Modric
Modric is under heavy scrutiny outside the pitch. He was charged with perjury in March but he's blanked that from memory to lead Real Madrid to their 3rd Champions League title in a row and was even better in Russia. Michael Cox was right when he said Modric is playing the Xavi-2010 role to perfection. No one ran more. No Croatian played more passes. No Croatian played more through-balls. Too bad Croatia were bushed by the time the final Sunday rolled on. They had played a full 90 minutes plus injury time more than France and it showed in the end. France's greater squad depth meant they were doubly fresh and in the end coasted to their second title.
Best Goal: Nacer Chadli vs Japan
Many candidates again. Nacho's vicious snake-bend, Cheryshev, Cheryshev, Cavani-Suarez's 100 yard 1-2, Quaresma's most Quaresmatic goal, Mbappe's 2nd against Argentina, Messi, Inui's thunderous strike, Pavard, Angel Of Mary but I choose Chadli's winner in injury time against Nippon. KdB's lung busting 50 yard run, Lukaku's bending run to split the Japanese centre-backs and then dummying Meunier's cross for Chadli to finish low with his left foot. Breath-taking counterattack. MSN would have been proud of that goal.
World Cup XI:
In summary, it was a fun world cup but very low on quality. Too many own goals, too many cursory errors, poor dead ball defending. Despite the poor final, France 98 is the best world cup since I started watching in 1994.