2018 World Cup Final

Sunday, 15 July, 2018 95comments  |  Jump to last

A month-long feast of football that will go down as arguably the best World Cup in decades wraps up this Sunday with the 2018 final between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

It's a match that will pit two hugely talented European teams against each other — a youthful French side that emerged as strong contenders to win it all after the group stage against an older, more experienced Croatian outfit that has battled its way through three games that went to extra time and two penalty shoot-outs.

England's conquerors looked there for the taking in the first half of Wednesday's semi-final as Gareth Southgate's men took an early lead and threatened to extend it but eventually relented and paid the price over the ensuing 75 minutes of play.

With Luka Modric orchestrating things in midfield alongside Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic providing the energy down the flanks and Mario Mandzukic defying age, knocks and cramp to fire home the winner, Croatia prevailed to qualify for their first ever World Cup Final.

Whether their extended exertions through the knockout phase finally come home to roost remains to be seen but the trouble they had early on with the running of Raheem Sterling does not bode well given that the lightning speed of Kylian Mbappé and the waspish Antoine Griezmann lie in wait.

France look formidable all over the park. With Hugo Lloris in goal, probably the only goalie who could challenge Jordan Pickford as ‘keeper of the tournament, and a stingy defence, they are hard to break down. Mile Jedinak's penalty in the group stage and Argentina's three in that entertaining round of 16 match in Kazan were the only goals they have conceded thus far.

In midfield, with the dynamic Blaise Matuidi, the power of Paul Pogba and the tenacity of N'Golo Kante, it's easy to see why the French are where they are and why the will surely start as favourites.

Croatia were clearly chagrined at being, at least in their perception, underestimated by England and their stamina and perseverance shouldn't be overlooked. In that sense, they could be a good bet to surprise France so if you're looking as a neutral to add some interest to the game, you can pick a site to review odds and prices for the Final. Depending which site you look at, the odds change slightly. However, the consensus is that France is the favourite to win.

Regardless of the outcome, history will be written. Could France, who blew a gilt-edge chance to win the World Cup for the second time in eight years 12 years ago in Germany when Zinedine Zidane lost his head and under-performed at Euro2016 make good on the rich promise of their current crop of players?

Or will Croatia, the smallest nation by population to have made the Final since Uruguay 68 years ago, land football's biggest prize having taken an arduous yet heroic route to the last two?


Reader Comments (95)

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Darren Hind
1 Posted 13/07/2018 at 19:56:46
France were not even on my short list at the start. Cant see pat them now
Bill Gienapp
2 Posted 13/07/2018 at 20:44:55
I'm sure many can argue why this is an exquisite matchup on paper, but I just can't get excited about Croatia. I expect France to cruise to a cagey and largely untroubled 1-0 victory.
Jamie Crowley
3 Posted 13/07/2018 at 21:17:56
For those of us who don't have the benefit of watching any World Cup prior to '94, this is the best ever. And that's not an age thing - it's an American thing in my case. I just didn't watch. I grew up playing hockey and didn't take notice until the World Cup was here in the States.

This tournament has been nothing short of sublime. I believe (?) there's only been ONE nil-nil draw? Probably because the Italians aren't in it. ;0)

I'm pulling for Croatia, but don't see them toppling France. But that's why we play the games. I could see Modric having the game of his life and unlocking a stalwart French defense with some silly "through balls". Croatia also has speed "out on the flanks" France will need to contend with.

Those two comments are a little wink and nod to all the folks who have "tuned in" on the Live Forum, and that brings me to my final point.

I'd like to thank Lyndon and Michael for their efforts and willingness to cover this World Cup. It's a departure from the "Everton only" approach at TW, and it's one as a fan of the sport that is warranted in my opinion, but appreciated nonetheless. It means more work for the commanders-in-chief, and that shouldn't go unrecognized as some of us tune in and have the benefit and good times of sharing the world's largest soccer tournament - together.

Thank you. It's been a hell of a lot of fun on the Live Forum and the daily threads.

Lev Vellene
4 Posted 13/07/2018 at 21:26:22
Bah, my only interest in the this world cup was based on the Everton players present! The whole notion of a bronze-final (or whatever) is just wasting time for relaxation and then getting back to prepare for the new season, for those players that got knocked out in the semi-finals. Everton players didn't win or lose the final, so I couldn't give a hoot about which losing team lost the least... :/

Pickford should be resting now, and then getting back in time for most of the friendlies!

Jamie Crowley
5 Posted 13/07/2018 at 21:29:48
Bah-humbug Lev! You've missed some amazing games, performances, and excitement.

To each their own.

Although I do concur, I watch the Everton players with more interest.

Lev Vellene
6 Posted 13/07/2018 at 21:47:24
Jamie, I actually watched quite a few of those games. But since I never had any real interest in them, it was more a way of passing the time, even though I was impressed by many things there! Some very good shows, but if it hadn't been for my love of Everton, I'd have stopped watching football 20+ years ago. Or maybe I'm a masochist, without even knowing it, and Everton has been my fix all along??? ;D

Most of these players are paid enough that they should be doing cartwheels during the break for entertainment, and then go on to guide the wheelchair-bound fans that help pay their Porches out of the stadium afterwards!

So I can only let my Evertonianism guide me when it comes to deciding which games are important for me anymore... :)

Gerry Morrison
7 Posted 13/07/2018 at 22:28:57
I have enjoyed watching the games, no doubt about that, especially the ones I watched in the pub with the whole crowd getting into it. Now however, we need to get down to the important stuff: preparation for three points on the first day at Wolves.
Michael Lynch
8 Posted 13/07/2018 at 23:35:00
It's been a great world cup, best since 1990 in terms of interest and excitement (if not the quality of football) but I'm done now. Roll on the new season.

I'll probably watch the final on Sunday though and will be hoping France turn on the style and win easily, with Lovren sent off for being an absolute helmet.

Don Alexander
9 Posted 14/07/2018 at 01:05:48
Chaps, at the risk of ridicule for the rest of my life (on TW that is, but maybe beyond for all I know), I just don't agree that this was a "great" World Cup. Yes, there have been some exciting games but I think we've been brain-washed by the media into hyperbole.

I expect the final to gross maybe six attempts on target in 90 minutes, which to me is is piss-poor entertainment in any match at any level. I expect the number of dives, "successful" or not, to be in scores, not dozens. I expect attrition, not enterprise. These characteristics have permeated football except for that one, or two if you're lucky, team/s who show the pzazz to remain true to the ethics of the sport they're involved in.

That said, as an Evertonian well used to dealing with disappointment, I really hope the final delivers a match to live in the memory for good reason.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 14/07/2018 at 03:46:24
Jamie #3, magnificent farewell speech. Only Churchill and Gehrig have ever been more eloquent in summation.

But I'm with ya. This WC has been a blast. Not because of the quality of play, which has been spotty, but because of the drama. Seems like every game has been exciting except that Japan-Poland disgrace. And sharing all this via the Forum with our fellow Blues across the pond has made it especially enjoyable.

That said, I'm with Bill in expecting something of a dull show Sunday. 2-0 France. And Michael, I'm with ya on Lovren!

Jamie Crowley
11 Posted 14/07/2018 at 06:37:59
Brother Gaynes -

Yes friend. Yes. On all counts.

It's been a blast. 2-0 would not surprise me though.

Still doesn't diminish the tournament. It's been wonderful.

Ash Moore
12 Posted 14/07/2018 at 07:32:57
Everyone likes an upset, which is why Russia will be fondly remembered. I don't think it beats 2002 or even 1986, but it has been a very good tournament indeed.
I feel most for Uruguay - except rat boy perhaps. Cavani, was for me, the truly outstanding player of the tournament. Modric has been very good, but the penalty miss I think puts him just behind the brilliant Uruguayan. But in truth, nobody has dominated the tournament the way Diego did or even Ronaldo and Klose did in 2002. Kane will probably emulate Lineker with six goals and the golden boot, but comparing their tournaments and few would ague Linkers performance wasn't superior. That's why I think those tournaments were superior. Having four European teams in the semi finals is another reason why I don't feel the tournament is quite as memorable.
To be honest, after France casually swatted Denmark away I was impressed enough to invest at 9-1. I knew after watching England Belgium in the group stages that neither would win this tournament, but I did think England would get to the final. The Croatians are on a roll; but I'm confident enough to let it ride Mbappe is definitely better than Sterling who I felt troubled Croatia. 3-1 Les Bleus, an early Croatia goal rousing them into full action.
Dermot Byrne
13 Posted 14/07/2018 at 08:13:29
Don #9: I am inclined to agree with you re WC. I think your expectation of dives v shots will probably be right.

But such is nature of the game. The media invest a lot in football and will not do anything other than hype it up. The megastar is important as is the diving, each create "stories". Guess there is a choice about whether to run with it or see it for what it is. For myself, I love watching/reading media fuckups or OTT reactions.

In the end 24 hour news and social media is creating a world where many want "happy" not "sad" so-called "news" and want it NOW! If not, many will cry like babies until there is some happy news the next hour/day.

And I admit that I often join long arguments that when you look back were all based on some spurious story created to just fill a column inch.

So I guess best idea with WC is to enjoy a game for what it is, ignore or have fun with media and always realise that it will be forgotten by Monday by 98% of the planet.

Now with Everton completely different ball game!

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 14/07/2018 at 08:43:13
I've enjoyed watching teams trying to win the game, because international football hasn't been this way for a very long time.

Don't lose, has been the motto, for a long time now, but this tournament was mostly different, and was the reason I started to enjoy some of the games.

I will look back most fondly on the Japan v Belguim game, and think that with "Soccer" being the true world game, that I hope to see the emerging nations, carry on improving, because it seems to me that most teams are not that far away from being equal now?

But is it really changing? Because probably the two most "ORGANISED SIDES" are the ones that have made it to the final?

Lyndon, and Michael, I'll echo what Jamie said, and thank you very much, for allowing us to debate the games, in what would otherwise have been a boring few weeks, especially with things being really quiet on all things Everton, at the minute.

Jim Bennings
15 Posted 14/07/2018 at 09:28:12
For me 2002 was an awful World Cup because of the ridiculous early morning kickoff times with Korea and Japan being 8 hours ahead, it wasn’t so great for European viewing.

Mexico 86, Italia 90 and Brazil 2014 (with the 11pm late night kick off in group stages) I loved that, the only thing that let it down slightly was England’s dross performance, but Brazil was a footballing carnival and great setting .

This has been a thoroughly enjoyable World Cup and I think especially as Evertonians we all needed something different after last seasons complete snooze fest which bored us all rigid from start to finish.

I’m partly sad the World Cup is ending and the predictable bore of the Premier League is on the horizon ( top clubs dominating everything, Everton winning nothing and failing to win any of the usual matches against the top sides) but at least the World Cup has brought about something fresh.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 14/07/2018 at 09:39:05
Don (9) let me take some of that expected ridicule off your back, I think in a few weeks people will look back and start revising their view of this World Cup, especially England's part in it, never mind they got to the semi final, and start looking at how they got there, Southgate is now a very good manager, in a couple of weeks people will start asking why is he so good, based on his choice of squad and changes of substitutions in certain games.

I have to say the majority of the country got behind the team and were willing them to victory, based mainly on the hype of the media, surely not on the performances of the team.

The good thing for Everton is that they will receive £6,000 per day for each player while they were in the World Cup.

John McFarlane Snr
17 Posted 14/07/2018 at 10:44:55
Hi Dave [16] I'm with you and Don [9] on this one, I feel that some of the earlier games were instantly forgettable, I can't fault the England players for their efforts, but unfortunately one or two were below par in the semi-final.

As I've said in previous posts, we can all watch the same match and see a different game, but for enjoyment nothing compares with being there, and for that reason alone the World Cup experience at Goodison in 1966 is my most enjoyable of all.

I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, and I'm bringing something along that will evoke memories for you, and depending on the ages of our companions, may be viewed with astonishment.

My family have done me proud they have [as instructed] arranged my "Surprise Party" for this afternoon, adding a bonus by kicking off at the traditional time of 3:00pm.

Dermot Byrne
18 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:25:22
John #17: have a great day. You talk a lot of sense on TW
John McFarlane Snr
19 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:41:58
Hi Dermot [18] thank you for your complimentary remarks, and good wishes, however there are some, who are of the opinion that I talk a load of shit, but I can live with that.
Ash Moore
20 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:42:07
Jim - I was in Australia for the 2002 World Cup and obviously the game times were brilliant. Qatar will be similar as well, it's six or seven hours ahead.
Brent Stephens
21 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:47:59
John, as Dermot #18 says. Enjoy it.
Steve Ferns
22 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:54:40
Enjoy your party John. See you tomorrow.
Iain Johnston
23 Posted 14/07/2018 at 11:58:38
I've enjoyed it, mainly because the usual suspects haven't had it all their own way I suppose plus the smaller nations not being turned over to the same degree.

I'll watch the final. I think the French midfield has been excellent and who can't be excited watching Mbappe in full flight?

Today against Belgium I'll tune in for the first half only.

Our first televised pre season game is today at 4pm so i'll be glued to that.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 14/07/2018 at 12:08:01
Southgate has done well, Dave, simply because he's got the players, playing as a team. He's produced a system that suits his squad, and at least his team has had a real go.

If Kane would have put that in, England would probably have been looking forward to a final tomorrow, which would have been a massive, massive over-achievement, when you look at the lack of real creativity in the middle of the park.

That said, he's got loads to learn, but then again, who hasn't?

Dermot Byrne
25 Posted 14/07/2018 at 12:14:39
John mate... we all talk crap from time to time but the folk I like are those big enough to realise it!

Dermot Byrne
26 Posted 14/07/2018 at 12:35:34
If you can use catch up, the bit on World Cup on Dead Ringers on R4 is funny.
Jay Wood

27 Posted 14/07/2018 at 13:11:24
This has been an oustanding World Cup – one of the best ever – for multiple reasons.

I cannot comprehend how anyone who loves football can be sniffy or 'meh!' about the month-long festival that unfolded before us.

And I'm quite sure more than a few within the TW community and the global audience beyond are quite capable of independent thought, uninfluenced and not 'brainwashed' by the alleged hype of the 'meedjah', to reach their own conclusions about the excitement generated at this World Cup.

By Sunday, there will have been 64 games played at this World Cup. Contrary to some claiming they struggle to recall some games from this World Cup because they were unremarkable, I take a polar opposite view. I struggle to recall many poor games.

Has there been a single standout team that has looked like the champion-elect? I think not.

Has there been a serious mismatch between teams from different geo regions, as in previous World Cups? In the main, no. Panama got tanked by England and Belgium, and Saudi Arabia – still fasting due to Ramadan – suffered a nap-head to the pumped-up hosts in the opening game.

Beyond that, whoever the opposition, most games were extremely competitive and the result in the balance right up to the final whistle. The number of goals scored in injury time – most of them result-deciding – is well into double figures.

44 of the 62 games to date were either drawn or won by a single goal which further highlights just how tight games were. There has been just one 0-0 to date – the 'dead rubber' final group game between France and Denmark with both of them already qualified for the knockout phase.

That in itself is remarkable. I think I read or heard somewhere there has only ever been one World Cup with no 0-0 games, a very early edition when there was only 16 games played in total.

Similarly, has there been one outstanding player at this World Cup? Yes, some have illuminated and dazzled at times, but not at consistently high levels as we have seen at earlier World Cups.

Whilst the game can turn on the brilliance of that special individual player, in this World Cup more than ever, we are seeing the value of what most football fans (I believe) crave to see from their chosen favourite: the value of teamwork and good preparation.

That has not come at the cost of free-flowing, exciting football. It has contributed to it.

And then there has been (IMO) the hugely successful introduction of VAR which, after early contentious decisions, has largely been anonymous for most of the World Cup. What it has done – and will continue to do – is change the cheating culture of high-level professional football as its all-seeing eye leaves no hiding place for those trying to gain an unfair advantage.

In the last month I have read some comments, sniffing at the presence of 'minnows' at the expense of 'whales' such as Italy and Holland.

To me that is 'old-school' Eurocentric thinking. The different federations and regions from around the globe have every right to participate at the World Cup every four years. And they enhance it, not detract from it.

Some suggest this World Cup will rapidly fade from the memory banks. I beg to differ. In the future it may, indeed, be looked back upon with great nostalgia. How and why?

Because in four years time Qatar will host the World Cup. The likely corruption, the exploitation of the labour force doing the construction work, the culture and environment in which World Cup 2022 will take place is well-documented.

It simply cannot be a traditional northern hemisphere summer World Cup because of the 50C+ temperatures in Qatar in those months, so it will be hugely disruptive to many nations' domestic leagues for 2-3 seasons either side of it as it will, in all likelihood, be played around January-February of 2022.

Beyond that, in 2026, there is the tri-nation World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico with a bloated 48 teams and 16 groups with 3 in each. To squeeze more fringe teams into the finals, FIFA for me have diluted a great 'product'. Thirty-two teams, 8 groups of 4 nations, followed by the knockout format is pitch perfect for me.

I repeat, this has been a superb, a brilliant, an outstanding World Cup. And I've formed that opinion from what I've witnessed with my own eyes and ears and emotions, uninfluenced by any 'meedjah' talking head.

Dave Abrahams
28 Posted 14/07/2018 at 13:25:44
Jay (27) I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy the final tomorrow, I begrudge no one who thought it was a great World Cup.

I loved Mbappe, who looks like he can join the greats, as long as the tantrums are forced out of his system. A lot of games remained interesting because of the closeness of the scores. I didn't think many were great, as Jamie Crowley said "Each to his own".

Steve Ferns
29 Posted 14/07/2018 at 13:33:14
I've enjoyed this World Cup immensely too. I think it's been the best one for years. I can't remember much of the 2002 World Cup, other than it being on at silly times, and England playing on the morning of an important exam! After the exams finished I think I watched other games having gone out drinking for 12 hours straight before kick-off! Games before what should be breakfast time is a silly idea, especially where young men are involved!

I think this world cup will be remembered as the World Cup that England fell in love with the national side again, and that may skew things, but regardless, I've really enjoyed it.

Steve Ferns
30 Posted 14/07/2018 at 13:38:31
Michael, you should put up a poll:

Who will you be watching at 4pm today?
- Second half of England v Belgium in the losers match
- The whole game of Everton v some Austrian pub team in Pre-Season

Eric Paul
31 Posted 14/07/2018 at 13:40:24
Spot on. I think the 2022 World Cup is to be played November 21- December 18
Dermot Byrne
33 Posted 14/07/2018 at 15:14:51
Listening to R5, Darren, and getting updates. Jaysus, they are good — and haven't dived yet!
Tom Bowers
34 Posted 14/07/2018 at 15:25:43
Idiot Southgate keeps his blue-eyed boy Sterling in a starting role. Yes, he will score eventually... but in which century?

It is a travesty that this player keeps others from getting a chance to play.

John G Davies
35 Posted 14/07/2018 at 15:58:30
Sterling hasn't scored an international goal for 3 years. Worth his starting? Answers on a postcard.

Only Iran have created less chances than England in the tournament. England, a top level team, as people are describing them? Answers on another postcard.

Pete Clarke
36 Posted 14/07/2018 at 16:16:21
I had a little dig at Southgate the other day for not making some changes when it was clear that England were struggling. I apologise now because I can see why he never made the changes because the replacements are piss poor.

Luckily Australian Ninja Warrior is on another channel.

Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 14/07/2018 at 19:36:46
He still should have made changes, Pete, especially to his formation, but that's why this tournament has been good from an English perspective, mate!
Joe Aylward
38 Posted 15/07/2018 at 03:05:24
Best World Cup since 1982 where, as a precocious 8-year-old, I couldn't believe football could be played on the level the way Brazil played, but they were still beaten in the greatest match in World Cup history. I also cried me eyes out when Batiston got murdered by Schumacher in the semi-final and the West Germans won...

This one has been great for the sheer value of so many brilliant individual matches. For me, Mexico v Germany was breathtaking as was Japan v Belgium but the general standard has been great. I've also loved the way in which, above the great football, the piss has been taken out of the prima donnas such as Neymar.

As for England, well, it's been good to see them attempt to play football, but let's face it, my Over-35 football team in the Northern Adelaide league could have made the semi-finals with that draw...

Peter Knight
39 Posted 15/07/2018 at 04:44:44
Southgate should have taken Walcott instead of Welbeck. I seem to remember him scoring a hat-trick in Croatia in a World Cup qualifier. It would have been good to bring him on after they tied the game.
Ash Moore
40 Posted 15/07/2018 at 04:48:15
It's a shame so many missed Japorea here! That was England's best chance to win a World Cup in my lifetime, including this tournament. For the half hour or so they lead the Brazilians, I was sure they were going to do it.

Qatar's game times will be similar to Japan's. The rest of the world has to watch football at crazy hours, it amuses me when fans here in the UK complain when they have to.

It has been an exciting tournament, gripping. But it hasn't been great. I've also got to point out that when the football starts at a World Cup, Jay Wood, the complaining generally stops. We didn't hear much about Putin, gay rights or Russian ultras during the tournament. And when the games get underway in Qatar, it will be the same; we will stop hearing about human rights abuses and how the stadiums were built. You might be too young to remember, Jay, but they played the 1978 tournament in a military dictatorship in Argentina that Cruyff refused to travel to. Guess what, it was still a fantastic World Cup.

The lack of a defining team or player will ensure that this tournament fades into memory faster than it deserves. The lack of progress shown by African, Asian and Concacaf nations and the disappointing overall performance of the South American teams also will take from its legacy. It was a good football tournament, and it benefited from following the most soporific Euros of all time. Roll on, Qatar.

Jerome Shields
41 Posted 15/07/2018 at 07:36:00
I think France will win, but hope Croatia spring a surprise. France are a great offensive side and had the measure of Belgium, though Lukaku was disappointing; he couldn't get his anticipation and feet right. Croatia out-footballed England and are a great footballing side.

The final is often a drab affair, but occasionally it can surprise. Overall, the standard of play set a good benchmark; England did better than expected and showed some promise for the future. . . and Roberto really was phenomenal!

Charles Brewer
42 Posted 15/07/2018 at 10:32:25
One thing that was clear was that Everton lost far more when John Stones left than when Lukaku did. The Belgian was, as so often seen, an utter donkey incapable of playing against the better teams whereas Stones has (mostly) got rid of the errors and was as good as any defender in the competition.
Paul Birmingham
43 Posted 15/07/2018 at 10:33:24
It's been a good tournament, and none of the aggro witnessed in Euro 2016, by the Russian para military firms. Very pleasing and a parity check for the National team.

For me 74, 78, 82 we're very good, as these stood out for great players and emerging great players, and the South American footballers and African footballers, were still generally unknown players.

So now for EFZ, and what's next this week. Hopefully at least this season the players will be shooting more often. Hope and patience in heaps, will be needed, but at least we won't be seeing the most negative style witnessed as of last season, in terms of trying to play football.

The unknown and hope of what might be, makes hope and promise, the next weeks, factors that will makes us all draw our own view for this season.

TWs have a good day and enjoy the weather and today's World Cup Final.

Chris Leyland
44 Posted 15/07/2018 at 10:52:46
Charles (#42) – apart from the error that cost England a place in the final?
Ian Bennett
45 Posted 15/07/2018 at 11:00:29
Losing Stones and Lukuka was a blow, full stop. It shows how hard it is to retain good quality players, to get to the top. It also shows that getting a boatload of cash can easily get squandered.

Yes, Stones switched off in the semi-final for the Croat winner, but apart from that mistake, he's looked top class. Varane and Umtiti will make the team of the tournament, and I hope our Jordan gets the keeper position.

Eugene Kearney
46 Posted 15/07/2018 at 11:07:16
Allez les Bleus.

John Raftery
47 Posted 15/07/2018 at 12:20:34
The best World Cup for quality and entertainment since 1970 in my view. Most of the games have been open, competitive and to an extent unpredictable.

I think a case could be made for Courtois being the best keeper.

Mark McParlan
48 Posted 15/07/2018 at 12:30:37
Anyone else really struggling to muster any proper enthusiasm for this one? I'd spent days looking forward to the France v Belgium semi, but not this.
Amit Vithlani
49 Posted 15/07/2018 at 13:19:53
This World Cup has certainly been a very good tournament, but ultimately, how many World Cup classics have we really seen?

I think Brazil v Belgium and France v Argentina will live long in the memory. Germany v Mexico was certainly a thrilling upset but so was Korea v Italy in 2002.

When I look back at other tournaments, 1970 and 1982 have quite a few wonderful games.

1986 too, contained some absolute belters – the final, two of the quarter-finals (Argentina v England and Brazil v France) and Denmark v Spain.

1990 had no games worth reliving for me – England v Germay was probably the best game but not really a classic.

1994, 1998, 2002 had a few very good games but again nothing I would term a classic.

2006 - Italy v Germany was a truly splendid semi-final, whilst 2010 was simply horrible from start to finish.

I suppose Germany v Brazil in 2014 was a classic of sorts but it was horrible to watch a clearly inferior Brazil team crack under pressure.

I am hoping for a good final. I think Croatia are an extremely good side – they remind me of the old West Germany, and France have, in Kante, Mbappe, Varane and Griezmann, 4 supreme outfield players.

That said, I am tipping Croatia to shock the French!

Jay Wood

50 Posted 15/07/2018 at 15:46:03
Ash Moore @ 40.

"I've also got to point out that when the football starts at a World Cup, the complaining generally stops."

It was, is and will ever be thus, Ash. Be it the Olympic Games or the Footy World Cup. Isn't the whole philosophy of the Olympiad based on the notion that warring between nations ceases during the staging of the games?

Happily (I am very content with my age and passage through life) I am not 'too young to remember the 1978 tournament played in a military dictatorship in Argentina'. Politics were most certainly not suspended during that tournament. Or do you forget how the Argentinian military junta secured their nation's place in the final, Ash?

In a very different format to the one now employed, there was not a straight knockout phase after the initial group stage. Eight teams in two groups of four played 3 games more games against each other with the winner of each group qualifying for the final.

Argentina's group included bitter rivals Brazil - their game was an ill-tempered goalless draw – plus Peru and Poland. Brazil beat Peru 3-1, then Poland 2-0. Adding to the goalless draw with Brazil, Argentina beat Poland 2-0.

Unlike today's tournaments, the final group games were not played simultaneously (to ensure against any possible in-game match-fixing). The Brazil - Poland game had already concluded before Argentina played the decisive game against Peru, knowing they needed a minimum 4-0 victory to ensure qualifying for the final over Brazil.

The inevitable happened in Argentina's home World Cup and Peru was despatched 6-0. Smelt fishy at the time. All was confirmed years later by a Peruvian senator, as this report reveals:


Peru's military government was paid off by Argentina's military government to the extent that political prisoners were sacrificed and tortured (some to death).

So yeah, Ash, I know my history. And not just Everton history. I have Brazilian friends who to this day refuse to acknowledge or count that first World Cup victory for Argentina as legitimate.

Oh! And as a quick reference to Everton from that 1978 World Cup, many of you will be pleased to know that Brazilians with good recall also consider the twat aka Clive Thomas as just that: a twat.

There was a first group game between Brazil and Sweden which was 1-1 as injury time was playing out. Brazil won a corner. The usual delaying shenanigans commenced. Clive Thomas eventually blew the whistle to take the corner. A good referee then lets that corner play out.

What did the twat do? Brazil scored with a clean-as-you-like header from the corner... only to be left incredulous because the man in black blew the final whistle as the ball arrived in the six-yard box.

You can imagine the scenes. Once a twat, always a twat. In that regard, all Brazilians are Evertonians!

Amit Vithlani
51 Posted 15/07/2018 at 16:53:31
Speaking of fishy, France score the first of a completely soft free kick and the second off a highly dubious penalty.

They have done fuckall to deserve the lead.

Jay Wood

52 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:01:06
How on earth is Croatia losing this game at half-time?

They are the better team, the best-performing players are Croatian, they are more threatening in and around the French penalty area, no-one in blue is catching the eye.

France, by contrast, have barely encroached the Croatian half, let alone penalty area, and yet the footballing Gods are smiling on them.

Griezman was cute in 'buying' the free kick he sent in which resulted in the opening own goal. The VAR penalty decision was the toss of a coin as to which way it could be called.

I really hope Croatia can dredge up yet another super-human effort in the 2nd half to turn this around.

Brian Williams
53 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:07:37
Griezman's free kick wasn't a soft one at all, it wasn't an anything one. The cheating, diving bastard was already going to ground before there was any contact whatsoever. Really sickens me when that happens.
John Pierce
54 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:11:03
Sadly for me, the penalty was not a clear and obvious error. ☹️
Amit Vithlani
55 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:23:21
Well – certainly the two decisions turned the game France's way, but a great third goal. Mbappe is a demon, turned a nothing ball into a goal.

I suppose when you step back, France have been the best team in the tournament.

Oh, and I think it is safe to say, having seen how many goals Croatia have conceded in the tournament, that you can't win a World Cup Final (or indeed Champions League Final) with Lovren in your defence!

Peter Mills
56 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:28:46
Surely Pickford for the golden gloves now?
Amit Vithlani
57 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:29:36
The French certainly don't do straight forward finals do they? 1998 was marred by Ronaldo's fit, 2000 they came seconds from losing, 2006 we had Zidane's brain fart and this game should really be 2-2!

Mad, mad, game.

Eric Yarker
58 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:30:50
Lloris concussed!
Michael Kenrick
59 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:31:28
Pussy Riot, those naughty girls!
Jay Wood

60 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:54:58
Football can be very cruel and heartless at times.
Michael Kenrick
61 Posted 15/07/2018 at 17:56:55
Yep, a bit numbing somehow after some great games, a poor finish despite six goals. Result a little unfair. Feels like a travesty.
Jay Wood

62 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:00:14
Lloris for the Golden Gloves, only if the sponsor of the award is Anchor Butter.
John Pierce
63 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:01:00
How odd. France never played to the full capacity, always, as per Deschamps within themselves.

Talent aplenty, perhaps they never needed to play at full tilt as no-one ever truly pushed them.

Kante, like his water-carrying manager, should get Player of the Tournament. A truly great player.

Jim Bailey
64 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:12:22
Var? No ta. Would prove absolutely ruinous.I t was never a penalty, how long did it take for the decision (wrongly, in my view) take? And how many minutes added on at the end of the first half?

Get shut, please don't let it darken the Premier League, or any other competition for that matter, a complete joke.

Andy Crooks
65 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:13:14
I think it has been a great World Cup. In my view, tainted by the final, which was ruined by a sinisterly inept performance by the referee.

Michael Lynch
66 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:17:27
I thought it was a penalty, and I thought it was a free-kick. France never really got going but were still a classy team. Croatia gave everything but there you go, that's football.

Good tournament with a fitting finale – not the best quality World Cup you'll ever see, but possibly one of the most interesting and dramatic, and the final was in keeping.

Dermot Byrne
67 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:28:23
Pickford doesn't get golden glove. Anyway can save his best for us!
Amit Vithlani
68 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:28:30
Hugo Loris Karius are in fact one and the same (cue Daphne from Scooby Doo pulling off his mask...)
Mike Gaynes
69 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:29:59
Modric well deserving of the Golden Ball. But Courtois over Pickford is an absolute disgrace.

And Michael (#66), agree completely.

Jay Wood

70 Posted 15/07/2018 at 18:30:53
VAR has worked and been applied very well. As the competition progressed it became less intrusive and more anonymous.

Today it takes front seat because it was consulted in football's biggest showpiece with the game finely balanced.

The irony is that in the end it came down to the referee's call, the human 'error' or 'correct call' VAR is intended to correct or confirm.

The time the referee took in looking at VAR, the fact he arrived at a decision and started to return to the pitch only to turn back and check VAR again should have been sufficient for the referee to realise there was sufficient doubt NOT to award a pen.

At least they've got one award correct today: Luka Modric as Player of the Tournament.

Colin Glassar
71 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:03:07
A great, entertaining World Cup but it’s over now and now we can get back to proper football. C’mon Everton, it’s coming home.
Darren Hind
72 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:03:53
Difficult to oppose/endorse VAR.

Perhaps if the referees could take an IQ test beforehand?

Stephen Davies
73 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:10:09
Darren (#72),

And fans too. The amount of times penalties are given because the ball hits a hand or arm is ridiculous.

Without pasting the rules here, I believe there has to be a perceived intent for a penalty to be given. But a significant amount of penalties are given when a ball is fired in at goal at speed and the ball hits the hand or arm of a defender, who couldn't really do anything about it... and wouldn't even have time to think they could do anything about it.

Steavey Buckley
74 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:20:42
VAR has been great success because it prevents cheating and refereeing errors.

Although, why the referee during the England match against Croatia allowed Modric to constantly stand over the ball as England were preparing to take a free kick proves that some referees will allow cheating.

Dermot Byrne
75 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:30:51
I just hope VAR is used to penalise divers with after match bookings or reds. It seemed to me the wrestling by defenders was reduced at the World Cup.

That and making it a yellow card for players (apart from the captain) surrounding ref.

To me that would make the game so much better.

Tom Bowers
76 Posted 15/07/2018 at 19:43:09
VAR was good but when it's passed back to the ref to take a look, then that's when I have a problem. You have a panel appointed and paid to take a look and then can't agree.

The penalty today was a turning point and how Peresic could have seen the ball travelling at speed and being so close to the defender is beyond me.

Still, France was my pick from the off because they did have the bigger scoring threat in depth and they were worthy winners of the World Cup.

Dermot Byrne
77 Posted 15/07/2018 at 20:18:43
Very good point, Tom. Stops refs "balancing out" decisions.
Andy Crooks
78 Posted 15/07/2018 at 20:44:38
What good is VAR when it allows a referee, who is utterly inept, to look at it and still make a decision that makes me question his partiality?

In my opinion, without VAR, Croatia would be deserved World Champions. VAR is a blight on the game. It is disruptive and allows the utter dickheads to now make a cretinous square signal to the referee. If it worked properly, the French cheat who dived to set up the first goal would have had a yellow card.

By the way, I backed France today but would have happily lost, because they did not deserve to win. They are World Champions because the referee was shit.

Bill Gienapp
79 Posted 15/07/2018 at 21:17:18
Well, I stand corrected, as that was a far more entertaining final than I was anticipating (see my comment at #2).

I'm not convinced Croatia could have won though, even if the breaks didn't go against them. France doesn't always impress, because their basic approach is to do the bare minimum required to win, but they have this ability to ratchet it up about ten notches when threatened that's scary to behold. All-in-all, a worthy champion.

James Hill
80 Posted 15/07/2018 at 21:36:22
Jay (#27),

You are entitled to your opinion. I am not swayed by the media, even though they did talk it up big, but then advertising revenue and click bait rely on them getting people to watch.

This was good entertainment but in terms of quality its a sad indictment of where football is in general today. I could go into a great long list of reasons why.

As for VAR, I thought it was being used to look for reasons to give the favored teams an advantage by the end. Today was a joke.

But that's the beauty of the game – we all see things differently and have an opinion. Lots of goals in this one which made it entertaining for those that like lots and lots of goals, no matter what.

I like tight hard-fought games and, for me, the team of the tournament was Croatia. Just an opinion.

You thought it was great? I'm pleased for you. I thought, in general, it was average at best. For me, Japan and Korea was a far better quality tournament and a much superior England team. Just an opinion. On to Qatar...

Ray Robinson
81 Posted 15/07/2018 at 21:55:31
I must be one of the few that thinks that the VAR decision might actually have been right today.

Normally, a ball that hits the hand at such short distance is never a penalty because the handler doesn't have the reaction time to make it a deliberate action but, to me, it looked as if Perisic realised that the ball was going to clear the defender's head and deliberately swatted the ball away.

Unproveable of course but instead of hitting a stiff hand which generally tends to happen when caught by surprise, it did look as if Perisic made a slight movement towards the ball.

As for criticising the referee as inept, where do we go to get better ones –Mars?

Don Alexander
82 Posted 15/07/2018 at 22:28:12
I haven't watched maybe half of the games, admittedly, but from what I did watch, including all of England's, I didn't see it as a "great" competition. That said, it's maybe an age thing because I've watched the lot of them including 1966.

This one, like various others that weren't "great" in my opinion, contained no "great" players at all playing at the height of their powers. Modric being voted player of the tournament spells that out to me. He's very good but nowhere close to likes of Eusebio, several Brazilians, Cruyff, Platini, Zidane, Maradona and if he's only very good how can the tournament be "great"?

Even media pundits' assessments of the players in today's final sees none of them awarded the high numbers (for good reason in my opinion) but perversely the very same media portray the match as outstanding. Weird.

If you didn't know better, you'd think the whole football media cabal are in cahoots with the dodgy football industry itself in conning an increasingly gullible public (with the notable exception of the ToffeeWeb clan, obviously!).

Ray Roche
83 Posted 15/07/2018 at 22:33:50
The Tournament was spoiled for me by the amount of play-acting, feigning injury, crowding around the referee and other "dark arts". Pundits rabbiting on about "contact" as if it is enough to fell a 13 stone athlete when it wouldn't put yer Granny off her stride...

Too much cheating. Ruining the game.

Paul Birmingham
84 Posted 15/07/2018 at 23:45:58
Now, for 4 years wait, and stagger the season for Qatar, and how much Fifa, have taken in brown envelopes,

Regards the Park End, developments, does anyone know, what's the outcome? It's not a mega build, but a build in progress the last 2 months. Looks, like boosting catering capacity and match day catering monies only.

All views welcome.

Charles Brewer
85 Posted 16/07/2018 at 08:14:48
Unsurprised to see that Jordan Pickford did not win the Best Goalkeeper award at the World Cup. I think that, in order to win, an English goalkeeper would need to save every shot in three penalty shootouts, save about 20 one-on-ones (like the ones vs Romelu "The Footballing Donkey" Lukaku the other day), while all the others would have to do a Lloris / Gary Sprake at Anfield in each match.

Still, at least now we know we have the best goalkeeper in the world at Goodison. No doubt one of the talent liquidiser clubs will be offering a large but inadequate amount soon which will be accepted. We'll probably buy some inept Lithuanian for about £50million.

Victor Yu
86 Posted 16/07/2018 at 09:07:31
If Pickford wins it, then Real Madrid could be calling soon.

I would rather keep him away from the spotlight if we want to keep him longer.

Charles Brewer
87 Posted 16/07/2018 at 09:51:56
Let's offer Manchester City £12 million for Stones. If he's as enthusiastic a footballer as he seems, he'd probably be delighted to get back to Goodison.

At least then we'd only need one additional centre back if Jags is injured.

Henrik Lyngsie
88 Posted 16/07/2018 at 10:37:16
Ray (#83). I am a bit curious on your take on the English players' behavior. I was brought up seeing English football as no nonsense, no diving, no cheating and playing hard but fair. I guess that is the culture you are referring to. As a Dane, I was not supporting England (apart from their goalkeeper).

I must say that I saw Maguire diving twice (as elegant as Phil Neville); I saw Trippier dive; I saw Henderson exaggerate when the Colombian's head touched him after he provoked the incident; I saw Lingard on every free kick to the opponent stand in front of the ball to stop the opponent taking a quick free kick (as he has done for Man Utd since the Van Gaal days); England had the notorious divers Alli, Sterling and Young in the team.

Frequently the English players were mobbing the referee as most of them are doing in their Sky 6 clubs. I saw England timewasting on every occasion, like when making a substitution, both Lingard and Alli pretended they were unaware that they were the ones to leave the pitch.

So, in short, all the dark arts that we are used to blame the Italians for (however, I must say the Italians are doing it much more elegantly; watching Maguire dive was a bit painful).

So is this just the Premier League being global and these dark arts are just part of the game also in England? And the English players are just doing what everyone is doing. Can you have higher standards than the others?

I remember being embarrassed with Phil Neville's dive (I think it was in a derby). I also remember being proud of Everton under Moyes. It was not encouraged to dive or to exaggerate. We never mobbed the referee. At the same time, the Sky 4, including their managers, kept mobbing refs, diving and cheating.

Probably in the long run you have to play under the same rules and standards.

Mike Allison
89 Posted 16/07/2018 at 10:57:46
Henrik, I didn't see Ray exclude England from his assessment, so I don't understand why you're asking.

English players are no different to foreign players in their use of the dark arts, except possibly they're less skilled at them as they come a little less naturally.

I think it's always been done, but there are some football cultures where it's seen as a part of the game and some where it is disdained. It's hard to go much further than that without starting to spout tired, culturally insensitive cliches. Needless to say, most English fans hate it whether done by opponents or their own team.

I will say that Colombia in Round 2 is the worst I've ever seen from a team in my life.

John Raftery
90 Posted 16/07/2018 at 12:00:28
For me, Courtois was the best keeper. He made great saves, for example against Brazil, his kicking was accurate and he made no errors. Pickford did well but might have done better for the goal scored in the group match versus Belgium and some of his kicking was erratic.
Jay Wood

91 Posted 16/07/2018 at 14:20:18
On the question of the Golden Gloves award, as impressive a World Cup as Jordan Pickford had, I can't be tribal and believe he should have been the recipient.

For my money, it was probably in the hands (literally!) of the two Cup Final goalkeepers yesterday – Lloris for France and Subasic for Croatia.

Both had similar records in reaching the final. Both had made key saves at key times in previous times. Subasic in particular was hugely instrumental in getting Croatia through their penalty shoot-outs.

But given the events of the final, it would have looked a bit daft of Fifa to give it to Subasic for conceding four (and he perhaps could have done better on a couple of France's goals), or to Lloris after his absolute howler for Croatia's second.

Courtois, for me, rather won it by default, rather than out-and-out merit. A pity there isn't a goalkeeper's 'young revelation' award similar to the one Mbappe picked up. Our Jordan would have been a shoo-in for that. His reflex saves were of the highest order. His reaction and recovery amazing. His kicking accuracy was the best of any keeper at the World Cup on official stats.

The latter was particularly nice to see, because too often with Everton last season he had a concrete boot on and the ball would sail into touch or go straight through to the opposition keeper.

Southgate has come out today and named Jordan, Maguire and Trippier as 3 young players with little international experience who "come back better players, better, more rounded individuals full of confidence for their clubs."

I certainly hope so.

Keith Monaghan
92 Posted 16/07/2018 at 14:56:33
The tournament was a very mixed bag for me, some great stuff, some very "anti-football" (e.g. a lot of Iran's play), a lot of cheating (takes forms other than just diving), limited success of VAR, and some simply awful refereeing.
Sadly, the final reflected all this, and it was one by the team with a big cheat (Griesman), who Fifa then awarded the player of the final!!!!, and very much helped by a very poor ref.

The penalty award to France was nothing short of diabolical - and Croatia should have had 2 in the first half, one when the always hands-all-over his opponents Pogba clearly wrestled Manzukic to the ground (noted by Hoddle in ITV commentary) and the second when Perisic was clearly pushed in the back when in the air (by Varane or the right-back).

It was not a victory for football or Putin, only for Fifa's deep pockets – corruption and cheating wins. Oh for the day when referees start properly enforcing the laws of the game.

Michael Lynch
93 Posted 16/07/2018 at 16:48:17
Pickford must have been close to getting the Golden Gloves award, while Kane was lucky to get the Golden Boot, but Lovren was the only contender for the Golden Helmet prize.

What a total prick. Look forward to laughing at him this season.

Jay Wood

94 Posted 16/07/2018 at 17:01:51
Michael @ 93.

"Lovren was the only contender for the Golden Helmet prize.
What a total prick. Look forward to laughing at him this season."

How DARE you diss one of the world's best centre backs (Lovren's evaluation of himself)?

"Here Pussy-Pussy" and a variation of Tom Jones' "Pussycat, Pussycat" may be the order of the day on Derby Day.

Ray Roche
95 Posted 16/07/2018 at 17:06:19
Henrik Lyngsie @88 and Mike Allison @89

Henrik, I would not attempt to exclude the England players from criticism, indeed, as you point out, several players were guilty of diving and attempting to con the referee.
What I will say is that the amount of diving and play acting that we see in the Premier League these days has escalated with the increase of foreign players.
I remember years ago Francis Lee and Rodney Marsh were the only players I can recall with a "talent" for diving, and they were roundly condemned by all and sundry. Apart from City fans, of course. Lee "won" (what a horrible expression) countless penalties and free kicks with his diving but the thing is these were not common place antics, they were not the norm for average footballers. Nowadays it is expected of players to cheat and con the referee and until FIFA, the FA etc does something about it it will continue to sour the game. Pundits could help by condemning players for cheating and condemning clubs for failing to criticise their own players but what pundit will do that? What pundit will risk his cosy little number by being forthright and honest?
Maybe Roy Keane, no one else.
And din't Moyes fine Neville for diving saying that we didn't want that behaviour in our club?

Henrik Lyngsie
96 Posted 16/07/2018 at 19:47:50
I was brough up watching English football in the 70’s and certainly that was different than today’s Global PL.
Ray agree with your comment on the pundits.
Don’t know if Moyes actually fined Neville but he certainly criticized him. I think we had extremely high standards regarding these things under Moyes. It was probably a bit naive, but it really made me proud being an Evertonian.

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