Thank you Russia, and goodbye! It’s been fun. Not to mention epic, thrilling, dazzlingly well-organised, and with a constantly shifting sense of place from the strangulating heat of Samara, to the fly-marshes of Volgograd, to the mist and drizzle of the north.
But that is now a wrap. After four and a half weeks and 64 matches, 1,613 shots, 1,734 fouls and a shared continental-scale avalanche of herring, beetroot, dumplings, vodka and sustained on-field drama, the World Authentic Sylvester Williams Jersey: Lions Big & Tall Elite Limited Nike Womens Youth Jerseys
Cup can now be packed away for the next four years.
It is tempting in the immediate glow to call this the greatest modern tournament. Certainly Gianni Infantino and friends have been energetically congratulating themselves. On the eve of Sunday’s final the swanky Arbat embankment was buzzing. This is where Fifa based itself for Russia 2018, with an HQ at the Stalin-does-Disney Radisson Royal, the tallest hotel in the world when it opened in 1957, and host these days Jamie Collins Youth jersey
to its own fleet of river yachts.
On the strip outside the Royal on Saturday night an armed military escort lounged in its supercharged Mercedes jeep, next to the plain-clothes security in the Cadillac Escalade, just down from the black-out Maybachs, part of a £2m haul of luxury cars lined up waiting for their passengers to eat a pizza.
Inside the Qatar 2022 committee could be seen enjoying a pre-final dinner that looked more like a celebration. Understandably so. Russia 2018, the other half of the late-Blatter two-hander, has been a wonderful success, a World Cup that has both re-geared international football’s juggernaut status and reinforced Fifa’s authority as keeper of the spectacle.
Around the same time Infantino was across town on stage at the ballet cooing and fawning over Vladimir Putin. “This World Cup is changing the perception of Russia, particularly from us in the west. Even the police are smiling!” Fifa’s president gushed, a political statement for which he will now presumably fine himself heavily.
Infantino is right to be bullish though. The World Cup will head to the Gulf looking relevant and purposeful, beneficiary once again of football’s ability to re-energise itself no matter what its governing bodies throw at this great belching circus of global interests.
On the pitch Russia 2018 was beautifully gripping from first to final whistle. The only caveat would be the absence of one or two obviously great national teams, although it is possible this young French squad might change that perception in years to come.
Overall Belgium scored the most goals. Russia committed an astonishing 95 fouls in five matches. Right up to the final weekend Spain had made the most passes despite exiting at the first knockout stage. England led the world on passes backwards. Neymar overcame his constant sufferings to have the most shots, 27 in all. By way of contrast Kylian Mbappé had just six before the final.
At the end of which France were admirable champions, a team culled from the beautifully fecund academy system and Elite Authentic Earl Thomas Jersey Seattle Seahawks: Nike Salute to Service, Rush, Vapor Untouchable Limited Jersey
cast in the fanatically team-oriented shape of their coach. It seems likely that in Mbappé France also finessed a little further the outstanding attacking player of the next decade.
Although this wasn’t a tournament for stars. Instead the struggles of the World Cup’s herd of would-be GOATS provided another layer in the daily drama and a refreshing shift away from club football’s cult of personality.
The constant TV close-ups of Lionel Messi’s Sad Face, his utter bafflement at not being about to rouse a team of lesser talents; the wretched theatricals of Neymar; the inability of the great C-Ron to drag Portugal along under his arm: all of this was a gripping counter-narrative to Germain Ifedi Jersey
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