A massive number of individuals tuned in on Sunday, July 15th to watch the final game of World Cup Russia 2018. The match between France and Croatia, which ended in the highest-scoring final since 1966, did not disappoint.
While France emerged as the ultimate victor, taking home their second World Cup trophy, it was clear almost immediately that Croatia had come to play. The Croatian team entered the stadium on Sunday down nearly 24 hours of preparation time due to three knock-out matches that increased their play time by the length of an entire extra game. Despite this, the team displayed an admirable level of determination and perseverance throughout the entire first half.
18 minutes had passed before France was able to pull ahead with a shot that nicked the head of Mario Mandzukic of France before soaring into the goal. Croatia responded 10 minutes later with a goal of their own, but the celebration was short-lived as France was allowed a rather controversial penalty shot not long after.
The ball, which came from Antoine Griezmann, struck the left hand of Ivan Perisic after a header by Blaise Matuidi. Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana did not originally notice the violation. It was instead pointed out by a video assistant referee. After careful review, it was decided that the contact was unintentional and Griezmann was granted the conversion, a decision that sparked quite a controversy among players and fans.
The second half of the game was just as riveting as its predecessor, as Kylian Mbappe came into his stride. The 19-year-old “best young player of the tournament” scored a 19 yard shot at 59 minutes, and a 25 yard shot six minutes after.
Croatia answered yet again in the form of a goal by Mandzukic in the 69th minute, making the score 4-2. The goal was the result of Mandzukic’s pressure on goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It signified a small ray of hope for the Croatian team. Ultimately, time ran out before they were able to even up the score, making France the 2018 World Cup champions.
Frenzy and excitement followed almost immediately, but the French team made sure to acknowledge the incredible feat accomplished by the team from the small country of Croatia. In a gesture of respect, Adil Rami of France applauded the stadium’s largest section of Croatian supporters during his celebratory dance around the field. Another sign that Croatia had fought admirably became apparent when Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball, indicating that he was the tournament’s best player.
It was a game filled with anticipation, disappointment, shock, and surprise. Undoubtedly, the 2018 World Cup championship game will forever be one for the records.