Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: The End

That was a really ridiculous World Cup final. After getting extra time and a total of four goals at the last three World Cup finals, the 2018 event was a bit of magic theater. (“Not for everybody.”)

Luka Modric Wins Golden Ball After Croatia Outplays France

With France ceding 66 percent of possession to Croatia in the World Cup final, it should come as no surprise that the top five players in the match with regards to touches were all Croatian. It perhaps goes some way towards explaining the general belief that Croatia looked better than France for large swaths of the game given the amount of influence that both Luka Modric (89 touches) and Ivan Rakitic (85) had on the game.

If those two are allowed space and time on the ball, Croatia's going to look really, really good.

The18's Best XI From The World Cup Semifinals

We’re down to the final two. Well, technically still four because there's the game that everyone is dying to watch: the third place playoff! We’re just kidding, because that'll probably be another 90-minute rerun of the group stage match with both teams shoving out their B teams.

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 23

On July 15, 2018, France and Croatia will meet at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to contest the final of the World Cup. It’ll be a matchup of the two most deserving teams, but you can’t help but feel that England missed out on a massive opportunity after looking in the ascendency for the better part of the opening hour today. 

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 22

There’s your answer: From front to back, France has the best blend of talent at this World Cup. That’s not to deride Croatia or England, it’s just a question that was very obviously going to be settled in this particular semifinal. Could the “magic” propel either of those nations beyond France in the final? As Steven Gerrard would say, yeeeaah course — Portugal did it. 

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 21

Congratulations to England, but that second game was a stunner, goodness gracious me. As a neutral, it’s difficult to remember anything from the early match after what we’ve just witnessed in Sochi. That was everything: crackling, attacking, heart-palpitating goodness. I can’t even think straight. Russia’s out, but Russia really won me over with that one.  

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 20

And so down goes Neymar. According to 2017 Ballon d’Or voting, Croatia’s Luka Modric is now the main draw of this event, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Will we see a first-time World Cup winner in 2018? The odds are now looking decidedly better. 

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 19

OK, England won a penalty shootout, so we can be done with those forever now, right? No more penalties, no more penalty shootouts. Let’s just see some goals from open play and some gentlemanly behavior out there. Let’s all just agree to that and we’ll enjoy ourselves in the quarterfinals. What’s that? I’m being sent to the Gulag? 

Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 18

Champions. No, world champions. What does it take to earn that preposterously prestigious title? Today, both Brazil and Belgium took a step towards finding out. In many ways it was well deserved — Brazil rode some individual moments of excellence to a 2-0 win, Belgium came back from 2-0 down to win in the 94th minute.

But then there’s the fact that this Brazilian side is decidedly evil and Belgium’s golden generation almost hilariously fucked it up again well short of its first genuine test.