So many talking points came out of the Tournament, chiefly the VAR which was used for the first time although perhaps not correctly interpreted by some referees,however a step in the right direction.
It was in many ways a victory for the underdogs and had Croatia beaten instead of going down to France in the final, would have been a bigger upset than Foinavon winning the Grand National. They played more minutes than any other side in reaching the final and for a nation of only 4 million, a great achievement.
Brazil excelled at times with some flowing Samba football but Neymar lacked the mature completeness of Pele..It would be a strange spirit that was not lifted by watching Messi, but his repertoire of skill failed to be emulate what Maradonna achieved for Argentina in ’86, despite the latter’s help by God
Germany stuttered like a car running out of petrol and were not the well oiled Formula One machine we expected. They needed someone as prolific as a Gerd Muller,in front of goal, sadly for them Timo Werner amongst others, fell well short of that..
Spain, the 2010 winners passed so much they got themselves in a Fandango and Christiano Ronaldo will have to wait until he is 37 years-of-age, if the Portuguese player is to pick up the only title to elude him in his playing career.
The youngish England side made the country proud by reaching the semi-final and although it never came home, the best news from the tournament was the the twelve boys and coach who did come home from a remarkable cave rescue in Chiang Rai.
The golden age of Belgium just came up short in their semi final against France and perhaps never got the bounce ot the ball at crucial times, which is the fine line for winning and losing.
I was in the Stade de France twenty years ago when France won their first World Cup when ZZ Top illuminated the Arc de Triomphe in the celebrations afterwards.
That side was good and the current side grew into this tournament game by game and again it was a strong midfield that was the engine in this side.
Sadly for me, the great midfield of Platini, Giresse, Tigans amd Fernandes just came up short when it came to winning the trophy and if perhaps one can discount the Brazilian midfield of 1970, were the best midfield I ever saw. However, with two world titles now, that will be irrelevant to France except of course to the above mentioned.
French keeper, Hugo lloris became only the fourth man between the posts to captain a world cup winning side following, Combi for Italy (1934), Dino Zoff for Italy (1982) and Iker Cassilas for Spain (2010).
The VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was a new introduction and certainly caused many substantial talking points.
These were the four scenarios where the VAR could come in to operation. Depending upon your loyalties many agreed and disagreed on various decisions made during the event.
Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana, again in real time signaled for a corner kick to France.
Whether it was the cries of handball by the surrounding French players or the someone in the VAR control room, Pitana changed his call and headed to look at replays.
It took some time for his decision, which he eventually changed and gave a penalty to France.
But here’s the thing, when you watch a reply in slow motion, of course you can see the handball and it looks more compelling. However one has to judge in real time, and in my opinion, Perisic had less than a fraction and unsighted to move his hands.
It has to be hand to ball and not ball to hand, so for me was harsh, but I do think most of the VAR calls were good and I am in favour for correcingt decisions in matches by sometimes blatant cheating.
Thierry Henry and Maradona know about something on that score.
The officials were light on defending players, not retreating 10 yards when a free kick was given in order to break up play and allow the team in possession taking a possible quick defence splitting pass. For me, if the guilty party does not retreat, would be a straight yellow card. immediately.
And as for all the hugging in the penalty area as set-pieces, it just continues and continues and if it happened anywhere else on the field it’s a foul. How to stop it?
Overall France despite some marginal decisions were worthy winners and as they might say in Paris, winning never goes out of fashion.