World Cup 2018: the Guardian team of the tournament

Throughout the World Cup, our readers have been able to vote on every single performance and their verdicts have led to this team The World Cup in Russia has come to an end and we can look back at a tournament with only one 0-0 draw among the 64 games. Our readers have been diligently casting their voted at the end of the games and we have used those votes to compile our team of the tournament. Players must have played in at least four games to be selected. Thibaut Courtois, Belgium (7.57) The Chelsea goalkeeper performed superbly throughout the tournament. He was never given anything less than a seven and scored a nine in Belgium’s quarter-final win over Brazil, in which he produced one of the saves of the tournament to prevent Neymar equalising towards the end. Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand also scored highly but only played three games while Danijel Subasic, Yann Sommer, Guillermo Ochoa and Jordan Pickford were also given good marks. Continue reading World Cup 2018: the Guardian team of the tournament

Four weeks of endless drama in Russia has re-energised World Cup | Barney Ronay

After a tournament that was gripping from start to finish with thrilling matches, marvellous midfielders, the rebirth of England and VAR controversy, Qatar has a lot to live up to 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 Cup can now be packed away for the next four years. Continue reading Four weeks of endless drama in Russia has re-energised World Cup | Barney Ronay

From doubted to dominator: Paul Pogba’s World Cup evolution

The midfielder came in to the tournament with concerns about his role in the team; he ended it dabbing and dancing as the heart of the France side If ever there was a time for Paul Pogba to dab and dance, to snapchat and sing to his heart’s content without giving a soul with any sense the opportunity to even tut, this was it. With Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium his stage, he dabbed with president Macron. He dabbed with his mother and brothers on the pitch. He dabbed with an iconic 36.8cm piece of sculpted gold that means everything in football. A world champion, a scorer of a goal that felt result-defining in the final, a fulcrum for his team, a massive personality revered back home, the only thing missing was a hairdresser on hand to create a World Cup-shaped cut to mark this most glorious of moments. Continue reading From doubted to dominator: Paul Pogba’s World Cup evolution

How Russia 2018 saw claustrophobic football crowd tiki-taka off world stage | Jorge Valdano

The changing of the tactical guard at the World Cup was marked by early exits for Germany and Spain, and now the pace and aggression of France shows the way forward When France won the 1998 World Cup, they brought cross-culturalism – which in football is an augmented reality – into the media spotlight. At this World Cup, three of the four semi-finalists had significant numbers of players with a mixed heritage, sons or grandsons of immigrants. That mix, that blend, is to football what poverty always was too: proof that the game itself discriminates according to a player’s worth on the pitch, not his social status – a true meritocracy. The fact that the marginalised continue to find paradise in a game that’s ever more conditioned by money is not insignificant. Continue reading How Russia 2018 saw claustrophobic football crowd tiki-taka off world stage | Jorge Valdano

Croatia’s World Cup run must bring end to game’s neglect back home | Aleksandar Holiga

Pride at their final efforts could lead to a new national stadium but lack of grassroots investment is a more pressing concern The defeat was hard to accept, as was missing a chance that is not likely to come again in the lifetime of these players or fans. Everyone thought Croatia deserved more but the nation still celebrated, rather than mourning. Crowds that flooded the streets of Zagreb and other cities to watch the final – among them, many foreign tourists and football fans who came just to be a part of it – stayed long into the night. The party, of course, was muted but it was still a party, not a wake. Continue reading Croatia’s World Cup run must bring end to game’s neglect back home | Aleksandar Holiga

World Cup 2018: Guardian writers pick their highs and lows

From Modric’s magic and Pavard’s screamer to unwelcome theatrics and wearing the wrong T-shirt, our writers give their take on the tournament in Russia Match of the tournament Russia v Croatia had it all: a spectacular goal from Denis Cheryshev, unbearable tension during a see-sawing extra-time period, raucous celebrations when Mário Fernandes equalised and then shootout heartache for the hosts – followed quickly by an acknowledgment that they should hold their heads high. Player of the tournament Luka Modric. He was influential from the first game but by extra time of the Croatia v England game it was impossible to take your eyes off him. Modric has played more fluently but the way he dragged himself and his team through against the odds was breathtaking. Continue reading World Cup 2018: Guardian writers pick their highs and lows

World Cup final TV battle: BBC goes for goosebumps as ITV pitches to fans | Paul MacInnes

Neither channel got its World Cup final coverage exactly right but each provided a unique perspective on the same event It is a job few broadcasters can manage, persuading people to follow you to BBC Two for the tennis while at the same time convincing them to not to go to ITV for the football. Thankfully Sue Barker was there to strike the balance on Sunday afternoon as Wimbledon was superseded by the World Cup final on BBC One. “On this super sporting Sunday you have the best seat in the house,” she purred, “and best choice available of two world-class finals.” Perfectly judged. Let the game begin. Continue reading World Cup final TV battle: BBC goes for goosebumps as ITV pitches to fans | Paul MacInnes

World Cup 2018: France continue celebrations as Croatia come to terms with defeat

5.59am BST 05:59 Meanwhile, in Birmingham…. 5.52am BST 05:52 And the Croatian president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, has received no small amount of praise for her role in Russia during the tournament. This tweet rather sums it up nicely. Hats off to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia. She attended every Croatia match at the World Cup, travelled in economy class and sat with the fans in the stadium. She refused to take any pay for her days not at work. Now that’s leadership.#Croatia #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/KTXJlHqSbD Continue reading World Cup 2018: France continue celebrations as Croatia come to terms with defeat

France lift the trophy as Russia 2018 ends on a high – World Cup Football Daily

Max and co discuss France’s World Cup final triumph over Croatia, another penalty, another controversial VAR incident, the tournament’s highs and lows and players taking shots to the conkers Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email. Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Paolo Bandini and Andy Brassell to look back at a World Cup final in which France took the trophy, beating Croatia 4-2. We dial up Philippe Auclair, who’s not as sober as he was at the start of the final, but not as drunk as he’ll be by the time you listen to this. Continue reading France lift the trophy as Russia 2018 ends on a high – World Cup Football Daily

Harry Kane talks of pride as he is confirmed Golden Boot winner

Harry Kane says he has now proved he can perform on every major stage in football after winning the World Cup Golden Boot. The 24-year-old scored six goals at Russia 2018, holding off competition from Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and France’s Kylian Mbappé among others to win the trophy. Kane scored five of his six goals in the group stages, including a hat-trick in England’s 6-1 rout of Panama. He said that after the disappointment of Euro 2016, when he failed to score and the team crashed out against Iceland, it was a welcome tonic. Continue reading Harry Kane talks of pride as he is confirmed Golden Boot winner