From the Viewsroom

An ‘all European’ World Cup

| Updated on July 08, 2018 Published on July 08, 2018

Lovin Leo Children walk past a mural of Argentina footballer Lionel Messi in Kolkata   -  PTI

Despite the exit of South America, we are in for a gripping finish

The business end of the World Cup began last week. The most interesting match was that between Japan and Belgium which the latter managed to win with the very last kick of the match. Spain, Argentina and Portugal’s exits were the big talking points of the Round of 16. Spain’s loss sparked questions over the future of the ‘tiki-taka’ style of football, a style that won Spain two Euros and a World Cup, making it one of the most successful football teams in history.

The France-Argentina tie too was an enthralling seven-goal thriller where Kylian Mbappe announced his arrival at the world stage and the forlorn Lionel Messi suffered another heartbreak for the Albeceleste. Messi’s rival Ronaldo too was shown the door by a Cavani class-act. Uruguay after defeating Portugal began to look like the dark horses to lift the cup only to suffer in the hands of France at the quarter finals. Cavani’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Uruguayans. In the quarters, Belgium after that last gasp victory against a valiant Japan, played a tactically astute game against Brazil where Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne circumvented the Brazil defence. Though the Brazilians tried to come back in the second half, they were denied by brilliant Thibault Courtois in the goal. But for the Belgians their unsung hero was Marouane Fellaini who choked Neymar and Coutinho.

Hosts Russia went out in a heart-breaking penalty crap shoot against Croatia in a strange see-saw of a match. But Russia can pat itself in the back for getting this far. So this brings us to England. After getting through a tough ill-tempered, foul-ridden Round of 16 match against Colombia, where it finally slayed its penalty shoot-out ghosts, England defeated Sweden with surprising ease. Having come through a ‘soft’ draw, thanks to the exits of Spain and Germany, this is perhaps England’s best chance to win the cup.

Though the South American fans will be bitterly disappointed, the all-European semi-final line-up will still be an enthralling affair.

B Baskar Deputy Editor

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Published on July 08, 2018
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