The 2018 FIFA World Cup is finally through, and with it, had the French reigned supreme. Indeed, the odds spoke for themselves as it proved that the star jam-packed team had what it takes to defeat any aspiring opponents.
Many thought that the Croatians are going to make it big this time as it seemed that this was the year of the underdogs.
But then again, that wasn’t the case as Mario Mandzukic gave the Frenchmen a head start with his 18th-minute goal, which by all means, doesn’t sound right as that he’s playing for the Croatians.
The 19-year-old Mbappe also sealed the deal with a goal in the 65th minute, of course, with the motivation coming from superstars Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba in the 38th and 59th minute.
It was a momentous victory for France at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow as it marks their second time to win the title over the last 20 years.
The French were in full synchronicity with each other, but not throughout the game. One of these seemingly out of sync plays was when Griezmann made a free kick, only to have Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic head the ball into his net.
It surely was a devastating move for him as it gave Le Bleus a head start to lead the game. It’s the first time that a player scored a goal for the opposing team in the final of the World Cup.
Ivan Perisic got no time for those kinds of plays, so he did what he needed to do and gave out a strong shot 10 minutes later. It lifted the spirits of the Croatian mob, but unfortunately, got penalized after a VAR review showed a handball.
Meanwhile, Griezmann seized the moment and controlled the field from all angles. This ultimately led to the French’s second goal, of course, thanks to the Atletico Madrid striker’s smooth conversion of the 38th-minute penalty.
It placed France one goal above Croatia, 2-1.
Croatia hasn't lost hope as they did their best to make up for their team's lack of vigor. Well, it did help them as they gained control of the ball most of the time after Griezmann’s goal. Unfortunately, this didn’t continue in the long run as this exhausted their energy.
They ran in fumes during those times, and in the process, lost momentum. This, however, isn’t at all surprising knowing that they played extra time in all of their last three matches.
Paul Pogba gave a disastrous blow to the hopeful Croatian squad after scoring a goal six minutes before another KulianMbappe strike got the Croatian net in the 65th minute.
Mandzukic also had a major shortcoming when he miscalculated Hugo Lloris capabilities, thus cutting the deficit midgame.
One of the things that makes this final interesting is that it this is the highest-scoring game that lasted by more than 90 minutes over the past 60 years. But bad luck for Croatia, as they failed to make it to the net again.
Nonetheless, this was a great achievement for the Croatians despite it being a failed attempt for the title. This marks their first time to reach the World Cup final, and would surely boost their confidence next time around.
KylianMbappe might be fairly new to this game knowing that he's still 19-years-old, but age for him isn't a big deal as he flared out in his purest form all game long. His spectacular display of athleticism, skill, and endurance, showed how much potential he has as he pursues his career.
What made things even more interesting is that Mbappe showed to the French squad that even a player who lacks experience can outshine the veterans. This gave Les Bleus a hint that they should meet and exceed the standards set by a young player like Mbappe.
This might be one of the biggest moments of sports history. However, this wasn’t just confined in the world of sports as the nation leaders also graced the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin graced the World Cup final, together with French President Emmanuel Macron.
It was a momentous moment for the French team, but also for the countries involved.
In an interview, Coach Didier Deschamps said that one of the reasons why his team prevailed in the World Cup was due to their agility and high energy levels, of course, due to their youth. Les Bleus is one of the youngest teams in the tournament based on the average age of their players.
Deschamps added that his team is young and very happy with how things turned out. The French squad has an average age of 25-years-old. This means that there’s a very big possibility that their team is going to remain mostly intact in the next World Cup in Qatar 2022.
This would then remove the need for them to make huge adjustments to their lineup. They can also work better with each other because they know their respective game styles.
Meanwhile, France striker Griezmann said that their achievement in Russia would make their country, together with their family and children very proud.
He adds that the World Cup title means a lot for them, which by all means, is a fact knowing that winning the tournament final doesn’t come easy with all the strong teams they have to beat since the start of the competition.
Then there’s Mbappe who then again made record after being the second teenager to score a goal in the World Cup final. The first teenager to achieve such a feat is the great Pele. Mbappe showed how great of a player he is throughout the entire final game.
However, his superior agility was seen when he showed his spectacular speed when four protesters stormed the field in the 52nd minute.
It turned out that the affiliation of the group that stormed the field while the final was on play was Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band.
The band was once jailed by the government. And having President Putin in the audience seemed like the perfect time for them to voice out their belief no matter where they do it. Authorities were swift to restrain them though.
In fact, charges were already filed against Pussy Riot.
Putin headed straight into the field after the game to award the players the medals. He didn’t mind though even if rain drenched the awarding ceremony. FIFA President Gianni Infantino then handed the golden World Cup trophy to France captain Hugo Lloris.
The stadium was filled with happiness and joy as gold confetti soaked Les Bleus and all the participants who attended the game. Les Bleu’s parade around the Luzhniki Stadium was the epitome of their campaign in the World Cup.
Then again, this year was a huge shocker for everyone as the underdogs made it deep into the competition.
South Korea defeating reigning champion Germany in the World Cup, England reaching the semi-final, and Croatia making it to the final for the first time showed how the seemingly weak teams could make a big statement.
Meanwhile, football superpowers Germany, Brazil, and Argentina leaving the competition early on.
Back in the Russian stadium, Pogba’s role was a disciplined one, but it was obvious that he was teeming with joy, looking back at the 18m shot that he did, which caused them to bag the championship.
Mbappe believed that he had a whole story he had to write and that this victory for the team is just the start. Griezmann, together with Pogba, was one of France’s top creative players, who managed to score for the team as well.
In a series of tense events leading to the end of the game, Mbappe managed to play furiously on game’s second half. Just in the nick of time, Mbappe began playing, and in the game, Pogba barely missed being in the penalty area.
It was in another attempt that he managed to get his shot into the goal, past Subasic.
The two scores from Croatia came from Mandzukic and Perisic, respectively, with the first 1-1 score taking place at the 28th minute, with the second one on the 69th minute. The shot, which was flicked, embarrassed Lloris while he attempted dribbling the ball outside of the goal.
The lead of three goals seemed too much to handle for the Croatian team, however. They have always had the habit of returning to the World Cup where three straight 120-minute games are played before reaching the final.
Dalic was confident that they were dominant and in control. All that they didn't have, however, according to him, was luck. What Delic's victory is, turns out to be Deschamps win in the World Cup, with this being his third, counting the time he has served as a player as well.
Joining him sharing this prestige are Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo of West Germany and Brazil, respectively.
As their way of celebrating their victory, Deschamps was tossed into the air and then caught while being on the field. The coach, who was known for being stiff managed to pull off some dance steps while in the rain, which he stopped by laughing at what he was doing.
It was a rather “loose” evening than usual, with the team being lauded for their efficient, and controlled take on the title. Back in their homeland, the celebration was massive with several thousand fans heading to the Eiffel Tower, where the event was broadcast on large screens.
Before the kickoff round, the Paris police had the area shut for roughly 2 hours.
Deschamps believed that had they won during the European Championship two years back, they might not have bagged the title now. Two years ago was a heartbreak for the team, as they expected to win versus Brazil during that time.
What happens after the World Cup
The matches leading to the finals that yielded France's victory took four weeks, where 30 soccer teams were essentially knocked out, which features some of the top-paid athletes in the whole world.
The trophy that the winning team would be awarded is designed by Silvio Gazzaniga, one of the most prestigious Italian artists. The trophy is made of 18-carat gold, and costs around $20 million.
The trophy isn't that tall as it stands at a mere 14.5 inches, with the weight being 13.5 pounds, with the prominent feature being two athletes with arms raised while the world is on their hands.
Once the winning team has been announced, the name of their country would then be engraved at its base, and then presented to the team.
The original trophy that has been passed in the early stages of the World Cup was the Jules Rimet Cup, as a form of paying homage to the tournament founder himself.
The beginnings of the prestigious games, were, however, eclipsed by the second World War, with the trophy being stolen in England, given to Brazil on a permanent basis, and from there was again stolen. The trophy is given to winners was first commissioned in 1983 by the FIFA.
GDE Bertoni, an Italian company, is in-charge of its restoration before getting it returned to the association in preparation of the next world cup. By then, the latest winners will be awarded a replica, this time, a gold-plated one.
The recently-concluded World Cup adds a new victory to France, which now has two victories. On record, however, it's still Brazil that has the most number of total wins, with 5, closely followed by Germany with four.
Had the game gone in Croatia’s favor, they would have made history by bagging their first win in the entire World Cup history so far. On the positive side of things though, a second-place finish in a tough game isn’t so bad after all.
Road to success
It was the first time since 1998 that France managed to bag the Championship for the World Cup, with their victory marking the culmination of the five-week-long spectacle.
Their opponent managed to win three straight, extra-time games, as well as two penalty shootouts during the knockout phase, with them having the better performance during the Sunday game.
It was, however, a much better opponent, coupled with bad luck that ultimately ended their shot at winning this year’s World Cup.
Despite the loss, Luka Modric, the Croatian team’s midfielder, as well as the Golden Ball awardee for being one of the outstanding players of the tournament still does not have any regrets, as they believe that their team was better for most of the parts of the game.
For him, it just so happened that some failed goals were in their way. Even if France is celebrating, they still have their heads held high.
France's strategy mainly consisted of fighting off their foes when the need arose and then punishing them whenever it's applicable.
It was all a moment of joy for the team the moment the final whistle was blown, where all the players hurriedly vacated their benches, hugging each other, while tossing dossing their coach in the air.
Their coach, Didier Deschamps has always been fatherly to his team, which consists of your players, and has ensured that actions will be methodical in nature.
The team for this year will be greatly remembered, not as an elegant group of champions, but for being exceptionally talented and extremely efficient, where each player knew exactly what they had to do, given their designation on the field.
It was all through being hard-working, diligent, disciplined and of course, being innately brilliant which all led to the country win for the second time.
Some of their most popular players include Paul Pogba, the midfielder, KylianMbappe, a striker, and defense guys Raphael Varane, N’GoloKante, and Samuel Umtiti.
They were a team of top-notch players, who showed the willingness to gather their strengths to make up an awesome set of games, as well as making do with what they were being given.
It’s also note-worthy that Croatia’s best players were also on the team, with such as Ivan Rakitic, Modric, and Ivan Perisic, who, in the first half of the game managed to play.
History was made in the World Cup finals the moment a goal and penalty kick was presented to France, who then managed to dodge, thanks to the unparalleled skill and speed of Mbappe, which transformed a break into a goal by Pogba, with the second out of three for him in the tournament.
It was France who scored first, or perhaps it was Croatia, with a free kick over their goalkeeper by Mario Mandzukic, 18 minutes into the game. Croatia was then left stunned, finding its ground, tying with France 10 minutes after, thanks to Perisic.
In the 35th minute, however, a ball that has served into the box was tipped off by one of the players from France, landing it on Perisic’s hands. The referee who hails from Argentina considered it a corner kick.
Nestor Pitana was appealed to by France but did not budge. Through V.A.R., they looked back on the decision, the use of which, was approved in a controversial manner earlier this year.
This was a historic move that created so much buzz and ultimately caused the referee to award a handball penalty kick. This led to Antoine Griezmann stepping up and rolling the ball into the goal, putting the French ahead with 2-1 versus Croatia.
Pogba contributed with the third, with Mbappe ultimately giving the final goal, as he made the ball get past Daniel Subasic. The odds were in their favor that even Lloris mistake did not get in the way with their team’s victory.
As soon as the match came to an end, it rained both water and confetti, and after how many years, France has finally achieved the title the second time around, where they celebrated amidst the grass of the field, dancing around it, taking flags.
It was the exact opposite on the other side of the field, with some members of the Croatian team falling to the turf, and crying. It just wasn’t their day today, though it has been for the past weeks.
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