Mike’s World Cup Review: 07/01/2018

The World Cup’s group stages are over and we’re now into the Round of 16. The last week has given us some surprises, some controversies and a few contenders for goal of the tournament.

The Champs Are Out

Only two teams have ever won consecutive World Cups, Italy in 1934 & 1938, and Brazil 1958 & 1962. Four-time winners and current title holders Germany were odds-on favourite to add their name to that revered list, but but instead fell at the final hurdle and failed to progress to the round of 16.

Just like Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014; the reigning champs couldn’t escape the group stages. Is three consecutive years now considered a curse? France did the same in 2002 but Brazil bucked the trend in 2006.

After falling to Mexico in their first group game, I told you all not to overreact, especially and Germany then went on to beat Sweden. The final group game brought South Korea and the current champs together, the South Korean team have never progressed past the group stages. A goal in the 92nd minute by Kim Young-gwon was originally flagged offside (it really did look offside on first viewing) but was reviewed with VAR and ruled a good goal.

Embed from Getty Images

With just minutes left, Germany’s goalie Manuel Neuer went slightly mad and decided to play as an outfield player, while deep in the opposition half, the predictable happened and the ball was launched toward his goal, chased down and tapped in by Son Heung-min. Final score was South Korea 2-0 Germany. Both teams were eliminated from the tournament while Sweden and Mexico progressed. What happens next for the Germany coach Joachim Low, especially as he was given a new, four year contract extension just a month before the tournament started.

The Runners-up Are Out

2014’s finalists Argentina are out of the tournament after falling to France 4-3. They put up a better fight than the German team, but Lionel Messi won’t be getting his hands on the World Cup trophy this year. The game also gave us two contenders for goal of the tournament, Angel Di Maria’s rocket shot and Benjamin Pavard’s stunning volley have to be seen, while PSG’s Kylian Mbappe two goals sealed Argentina’s fate.

World Class Football Brings World Class Cheating

The group stages are so crazy tight, so much that when points or goal difference can’t decide rankings, it falls to gentlemanly conduct i.e. which team was carded less? Unfortunately this has led to some gravity-challenged flop merchants going to ground perhaps easier than they normally would. Especially if that dive grants the opposition a yellow (or even a red) card for their troubles.

The first image that sprang to my mind was this:

Homer Simpson car

But I digress. The showcase example from Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr is one of the more extreme demonstrations, but across most games we’ve seen a lot of diving and it’s putting new and casual viewers off the beautiful game. The group stages are over and standings can’t be decided by ‘sportsmanship’ now and with embellishment attracting wider criticism than just in football circles, hopefully the officials will take this a bit more seriously. Click here for some interesting statistics about diving.

World Cup Fact-Slam

Did you know the iconic Icelandic Thunder Clap is actually Scottish? You do now.

What have been your favourite moments from the tournament so far? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter!

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