Every game has its mysterious components that you cannot always explain. That is especially true when it comes to football. One of the more recent examples that comes to mind is the 2018 World Cup. We all knew that the tournament would be massive due to the fact that it was the World Cup. Yet, even after England was knocked out in the group stages, the game still managed to retain its charm.
It might not be the most popular sport in the world, but football still has a special place in the hearts of many people. This is mainly thanks to the beautiful game’s ability to unite people and create communities. The 2018 World Cup was no different, with people from all around the world coming together to support their national teams.
Now that the dust has settled and we have a better understanding of what actually happened in Russia, let’s take a moment to reminisce on the greatest show on Earth. Was it really as great as we think it is? Were Russia and Sweden the clear winners of the tournament? Or did we witness one of the greatest upsetes in World Cup history?
The Truth About The Results
The biggest story ahead of the 2018 World Cup was undoubtedly Russia winning the hosting rights over Qatar. The decision was met with much controversy, with many questioning the fairness of the decision-making process. No one expected Russia to actually win the cup though. Even the most ardent fans of the country were cautiously optimistic, giving their side a 35% chance of winning the trophy. That was way off the mark. In fact, the results were almost completely unpredictable. Russia won the cup, but it was a complete accident.
The Russians did not look like world-class players, and they certainly did not play like it. They were sloppy and undisciplined, and it showed. In the end, it was the tactical nous of Sweden that proved crucial. They were the only Scandinavian team to qualify for the tournament, and they certainly did not disappoint. They went on to defeat Argentina in the quarter-finals, before losing out to France in the semis.
It was an incredible run for the Swedes, who became the first team from the Scandinavian country to ever win the World Cup. It came as a complete shock to everyone, with many questioning whether this was actually the case. The hosts Russia were obviously angered by the result, claiming that it was fixed. They were also furious that their opponents Spain refused to travel to Moscow for the final due to safety concerns. That is because of alleged Russian hooliganism. However, the organizers of the tournament said that even they were not sure whether the final would actually take place or not. That is because of stadium safety concerns, with a capacity crowd of over 90,000 people needing to be housed and fed. It was a similar story for Greece and Albania, who lost out on the last spot in the tournament to Sweden. Even the teams that were deemed least likely to win the cup, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, still managed to qualify. The 2018 World Cup was definitely a case of the underdogs knocking everyone out of the park.
The first game of the 2018 World Cup was arguably the most significant. It pitted Argentina against Germany in one of the most anticipated match-ups. Argentina had upset the world by reaching the quarter-finals, and they were determined to go one step further. Unfortunately for them, it was not to be. Messi had indeed brought his A-game, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win for Germany. Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time, and the fact that he netted three times was a testament to his class.
Even when you account for the fact that it was Argentina’s first game since their massive 4-1 defeat to England in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, this was still a shock. It was as though Messi had possessed a ghost since then. He had not scored in any of Argentina’s remaining games, before finally finding the net in a 2-2 draw with Uruguay. Even at 41 years of age, he still had the magic.
There were a host of surprising results in the 2018 World Cup. Perhaps the most mouthwatering match was the England v Uruguay game that we have briefly mentioned already. This was the last game of the group stages, and both sides were desperately seeking a victory to stay in the race for second place. Naturally, England scored first, but Uruguay had other ideas and equalized just before the break. The game remained locked at 1-1 until the 82nd minute, when a Harry Kane penalty sealed the win for England. With this result, the Three Lions sealed their place in the last four, ahead of Germany and Argentina.
We mentioned above that Uruguay was the only southern hemisphere team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. They were drawn in a tough group with Argentina and Croatia, and they definitely did not disappoint. They lost their first game to Argentina and then defeated Croatia to reach the semi-finals. Even more remarkably, they then defeated England in the last four, despite the fact that they had not won a single game at the time. They reached the final by defeating the Three Lions in the semi-finals, winning 3-1.
This is certainly one of the more memorable World Cups in recent memory. It would not be surprising if people look back on the 2018 World Cup as the one where everything changed. The truth is that nobody expected much of anything, and that is what made the tournament so special. The upsets were incredible, and although Germany went on to win the cup, it was clear that other results would have to be ignored. The fact that Spain decided to stay at home, fearing for the safety of their players, was an incredible decision. It undoubtedly robbed the A-listers of one of the greatest shows on Earth. The game will be remembered for a long time.