Stamped with surprises, the 2018 World Cup

The FIFA World Cup drew to an end last weekend. For me, it was of much surprise that France became the champions. Because as much as France looked like the team with all the star players, they looked like they failed terribly when it came to team work. England also making it to the semi-finals was another surprise. Both teams were not playing great football from the very beginning.



France and England really mislead me in this tournament. The favourites of the tournament which were Germany, France and England were the ones that I predicted would not be successful. When I made these predictions from the first games played, I was on point as Germany were eliminated from the group. Meanwhile, France and England accomplished success with much effort in the tournament playing with a young team. This is a situation which must be praised. I believe both teams played terribly in their group games but when they played individually down the track, their performance increased much more. Actually, increasing their performance would have not been enough, and I believe they went to the end of the tournament purely by chance. Anyway, if you ask me, there were three factors that left their mark in this tournament:


1- The fluke of football

To give you a specific example, in the 2nd round of the tournament, France’s right back player, Pavard scored a goal against Argentina which really was the breaking point of the game. Pavard scored the best goal of the tournament. He kept saying “I’m not used to scoring goals”, and then scoring a generic spun volley was pure chance for France. I believe that even if Pavard tried 100 times, he’d only be able to produce 1 good shot like that. And that coincidence came in this game. In the quarter finals, one of the world’s best goal keepers who also plays in the team I support, Galatasaray, one who is much loved and respected, Muslera of Uruguay missed an unbelievably blundered goal. A goal like this did not go down well for a goal keeper who is so experienced (off course Muslera’s credit in our eyes is so high, that’s why for us, he is still the best goal keeper in the world).

On the other hand, in the semi-finals, the fact that Belgium got a goal scored against them from an irrelevant ball position, and although they had made many dangerous defences, Belgium were still unable to score, considering also that their red devilled player Meunier wasn’t playing in this game due to getting too many cards which meant it was an immense chance for France. And in the final game, they got lucky with Croatia’s own goal by their forward Manzukic, and later on, although they were able to take control, France got a penalty given to them which I believe was not deserved, which eventually broke the camel’s back. Games like this that can easily eliminate a team are pure flukes of football. Because the smallest of mistakes can result in wrong decisions and having men down on the bench.

The things I mentioned above are also applicable to England. In all the games they played, they had loads of high chances, when in normal circumstances they would have been eliminated. After the group matches, they were once again faced with Belgium and in the 3rd-4th spot game, they lost against Belgium which I believe, based on the fixture, they were immensely lucky to finish where they did.

I believe the best football played in the tournament was by Croatia and Belgium.






2- Technical Directors

I also did mention that I saw Argentina, Brazil and Spain as one of the 6 favourites in the tournament. The fact that in the 2nd round of the games, Spain lost to Russia, Argentina got eliminated to France in the 2nd round and Brazil lost against Belgium, which I believe were all because of the technical directors not preparing their teams enough and putting out the wrong team onto the field on the day of the game.  I won’t go into detail, but I believe if Spain’s technical director was replaced by Manchester City’s Spanish technical director Pep Guardiola, if Argentina had Atletico Madrid’s Argentinian technical director Diego Simeone, both teams would have been serious contenders for the championship. I believe both teams were victims of their team defence, game concentration and choice of players.

I also believe the Brazilian technical director Tite made wrong choices about the team he put on the field. Forget about the substitutes, if Brazil had put many of their successful players who have made careers out of this in the game, they would have made it to the top. If I need to be more specific, in the last game they played against Belgium, in the 2nd round they brought in the player who has worn a jersey for Bayern Munich and who currently plays for Juventus, Douglas Costa, who displayed an amazing state of performance and really put a dampen on the left wing of Belgium. Many of Brazil’s defences against Belgium were made in the right wing. In the same way, Bayern Leverkusen and Renato Augusto of Corinthians roots were bought into the game later and even so, were able to show amazing performances and record Brazil’s only goal. When you have players like this, you feel that Tite didn’t give them the credit they deserved. I believe Brazil require a technical director who has proved themselves in Europe, doesn’t act emotionally with the players it has on board and uses them to their full potential.

On the other hand, amongst the other technical directors, Didier Deschamps of France, Zlatko Dalic of Croatia, Roberto Martinez of Belgium and Gareth Southgate of England were able to coordinate effectively and were able to attain maximum output from their players and team. Deschamps was honoured previously with the World Cup as a player and now as a technical director. Lifting the trophy from the 1998 Cup, Deschamps, Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer were the 3 names that went into history to achieve this same feat.


Deschamps earning the trophy during his times as a player and then as a technical director


3- Goal Keepers

There were also many errors made by goal keepers in this tournament which directly affected the results. Argentina’s goal keeper was a fiasco. After two games, they replaced him with another which didn’t make the same obvious mistakes but still got many goals in his goal post. And the player that we love and respect, Muslera’s mistake in the France game was one that could not be compensated for. Then there is David De Gea who plays for Manchester United, was the goal keeper for Spain which he badly performed. Based on FIFA’s official statistics, in the 2018 World Cup, amongst the 33 goal keepers, the only goal keeper that couldn’t save a goal in the group games was Spain’s goal keeper David De Gea. In the opening game, he lost 3 goals, and the second goal he lost had a lot to do with his mistake. Generally, in the tournament, of the goals that came near his goal post, 91.6% were resulted in a goal. For a goal keeper of his calibre, this percentage is very high.

On the other hand, of the teams that made it to the semi-finals, France, Croatia, Belgium and England, and in order with their goal keepers, Lloris, Subasic, Courtois and Pickford, their critical saves and the success they displayed during the penalties meant they were able to stand out in this tournament. In saying this, one of the most successful goal keepers, France’s Lloris did made a very big mistake in the final with the goal from Manzukic. Luckily when the goal was scored, there was still a gap in the scores.




Being able to predict over 50% 

I have previously made predictions in my article I had written and from this, over 50% of my general predictions actually happened. For example, I had mentioned that the teams that could possibly win this tournament were either Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. The ones that I believed qualified as the surprise favorites, or the ones that would actually make it to the quarter finals and had the potential for it were amongst Iceland, Switzerland, Mexico, Croatia and Uruguay. Based on this, I was able to predict 5 out of 8 to make it to the quarter finals. And for those teams that made it to the semifinals, of the 4 teams, I had predicted the 1 from the 2 that made it to the finals. As a result, once it came to the semifinals, the World Cup was transformed to the likes of the Europe Cup.


My favorites eliminating each other due to tricky fixtures 

The ones I pointed out as favorites unfortunately eliminated one another due to the tricky fixtures. If they had played other teams, they would have got to a higher place in the tournament.

For example, I had pointed out that the favorites were Portugal and Brazil, which Belgium eliminated. Iceland ended up in the strongest group; not being able to successfully out-stand the other favorites in the group, Argentina and Croatia. If Iceland were in another group, they could have excelled to the next rounds. Of the others that could surprise us were Russia, in which Croatia eliminated, while Mexico also from my favorites got eliminated by Brazil. I also got mislead by Switzerland. Under normal circumstances, I believe Switzerland had the strength to win against Sweden. In that game, they got the unlucky goal and were unable to utilize their many opportunities to score and therefore lost against Sweden. 

Also, although they made such effort to make a difference, the superstars of football, Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar were unable to achieve this.




The beauties of the tournament

From what I saw from the outside, the best side to this tournament was the contribution by the spectators. Sitting in mixed groups in the stands, they added a special flare with their differentiating team colours during the group games. Additionally, it was also great to see the most senior government officials from different countries watching the games live from the stands to congratulate each other after goals scored, which sent out a friendly message to the conjunctures of the world we live in which is continually strained and lured by wars.

I think another great side of this tournament was the use of the VAR system. I have never agreed with the “mistakes made by the referee are the soul of football, at the very least they don’t affect the speed of the game”. Infact, I have brought this up many times amongst friends: mistakes made by referees are such a disgrace to the game. In order to minimise these errors, they need to take a break, analyse the position and then continue on with the game as done in basketball and American football.



I am personally happy that FIFA started to apply what I mentioned above. From now on, in order to increase the speed of the game, I believe the VAR system should be installed on a watch worn by the referee rather than on a screen on the side of the pitch. I believe that with the mini screens on their arm, the centre referees should continue the game. This way, they won’t have to stop the game to go to the side of the pitch to watch the game on the screen. I think this is something they will initiate in the future.

And of course, to speed up the game, to enjoy and increase the amount of goals scored, they need to remove the offside rule. I also don’t agree with the people who say things like “well if this happens then every player will wait by the side of the goals”. The tactics will then change and there will never be a game without any goals scored. I really get annoyed with games that end in a result of 0-0. I believe that an enjoyable game to watch is one where lots of goals are scored and ones that portray great performance. I think FIFA should aim to do this in the future.


The ugliness of the tournament

I believe the ugliest side to this tournament was when the Turkish players who played for Germany and Sweden were targeted with racist remarks and heavy criticism. For example, during the Sweden and Germany game, the Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz, who joined the game later on, fouled the German forward Toni Kroos in the final minutes, who then scored the game winning goal on a free kick, which was a demoralising moment for the Swedish player. Jimmy Durmaz was sprayed with much abusive and racist comments by the Swedes. He even received death threats. This situation is totally unacceptable. In the same way, Mesut Ozil was abused and lynched when Germany couldn’t succeed out of their group.


After the racist remarks made to Jimmy Durmaz, Sweden’s sensible citizens and public authorities joined the Turkish Republics Ambassador in a walk for support for Durmaz.


As this topic has really hurt my feelings, I will write my next blog article about “racism”.

I hope that one day we can remove the ugliness and bring about beauties to the world…


NOTE: I would like to share the goals and the most important moments of the tournament with you:;/m/06qjc4;2;/m/030q7;mt;fp;1

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