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France Wins the 2018 FIFA World Cup Championship; C’est Bon!

What will be the impact of the dominance of European futbol clubs have on CONCACAF and CONMEBOL?

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France defeated underdog Croatia to become this year’s World Cup Champions. Mbappe became a global phenomenon. The 2018 World Cup in Russia was decided between the heavy underdogs from Croatia and France. ‘Les Blues’ were a pre-tournament favorite to reach the finals, but the strong play of Luka Modric and his teammates was a surprise. Croatia, in many ways, outplayed the French but at the end of 90′ minutes, they were defeated 4-2. Antoine Greizmann was named the ‘Man of the Match,’ Kylian Mbappe was named the FIFA Young Star Award and Modric was awarded the World Cup’s, Golden Boot.

franceworldcupchampions
The Équipe de France de Football at Luzhniki Stadium in Russia celebrate their 4-2 win over Croatia.

Controversy marred the final once again. At the 18 minute mark, Croatian forward Mario Madzukic scored an own goal giving the ‘Les Blues’ an early 1-0 lead. Croatia’s Ivan Perisic scored a goal to tie the match, but then the referees awarded France a penalty kick for a handball by Perisic minutes later. Greizmann converted the penalty and France led the match 2-1 at halftime. Referees used the video-assistant referee (VAR) system to make the call. It didn’t look like a blatant penalty in real-time. Watching replays, we’re still confused. It was the first time the VAR system was used in a World Cup finale.

France took control of the match in the second half. Paul Pogba gave France a 3-1 lead and then Mbappe closed out Les Blues scoring with his historic goal six minutes later. Mbappe became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, joining Brazilian legend Pele.

South America Back to Third World Status?

The 2018 World Cup was extremely concerning for the sub-continent. There were no South American representatives in the semis or finals matches. Colombia lost in controversial fashion to England in the round of 16. Argentina’s poor defense caught up with Messi and the team also lost in the knockout stage. Powerhouses Uruguay and Brazil then lost in the quarterfinals to France and Belguim respectively. No Messi, no Neymar Jr., and no Suarez, James or Falcao. The World Cup performance by CONMEBOL will push national federations to change club directions, perhaps styles of plays, even head coaches.

South American futbol fans directed the most criticisms to Messi and Neymar. Messi will most likely end his national team tenure without winning the World Cup. He will remain in the shadow of Maradona for the rest of his futbol life in Argentina. Neymar was heavily criticized for his dramatic reactions to fouls and flopping. So much so that ‘neymarrolling’ became a trending #hashtag for much of the tournament.

https://twitter.com/CoventryImprov/status/1017730453795680256

Takeaways

The makeup of South American and other high-profile teams needs to change. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Portugal must add depth to their lineups and rosters in advance of World Cup 2022 in Qatar. In Russia, those four teams, in particular, built their clubs around one key striker. Victory at the World Cup comes from 11 men playing as one. For instance, even if you contained France’s Antoine Greizmann, Giroud, Mbappe, Pogba, and Hernandez were dynamic enough to take over a match.

Belgium was a true collective of very good players, playing their best. Belgium averaged three goals per match and several players earned ‘Man of Match’ recognition. That included Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Kevin DeBruyne.

Colombia will have difficult decisions to make before Qatar. They will most likely need to replace the Jose Pekerman as team manager, who is 68 years old. ‘El Tigre’ Falcao will no longer be with the team and James will be turning 31 by the time the tournament ends. They will need an infusion of new tactics and talent to go deeper in the World Cup tournament or win their first.

The Most Beautiful from the Most Beautiful Game

To the victor goes the spoils. Not only will the European federation get an extra team spot for the 2022 World Cup, the champions attract some of the most amazing women in the world. Case in point. Meet Charlotte Pirroni, the WAG of French forward Florian Thauvin. Pirroni was a second runner-up in the “Miss France 2015” pageant and has played basketball professionally for 8 years. Ooo la la!

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