July 11, 2018, Day Twenty-eight
In Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup, the most consistently good team, Croatia, defeated England 2—1 in extra time to make the tournament final against France on Sunday.
The match pitted an English team that was younger and fresher against a Croatian team that, with older if better and more experienced players, had already gone to two penalty shootouts back-to-back by the time they reached their third 120+ minute match. But their class showed and throughout large swaths of the second half, and the second extra time, it was the Croats who shone brightest and earned a hard-fought battle to reach a deserved conclusion.
Unfortunately the officiating was mostly one sided (62% of fouls called were against Croatia) and there were simply too many examples to give—from the manner in which subs for the English could take their time coming and going while Croats were escorted out, to the number of fouls called for the English in areas that could provide their one true weapon, the long ball into the box, to the number of scuffles that were allowed to sprout unsanctioned, to the added time each half and extra time seemed to provide when the English needed it but also how quickly the whistle blew when the Croats were mid-play with catching up to do.
But Croatia, with the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic and Sime Vrsaljko and Domagoj Vida, were simply the better side and all the English were left to bring home was their heads held high for having advanced much further than their abilities would have suggested. They do have a bright future, but they are young and that future may well arrive in Euro 2020 or Qatar 2022.
It is unfortunate that the better team in the final, France, is also the youngest and freshest team, but at least the Croats can take solace in knowing they have progressed further than any other team from their country. Furthermore, if the Croatians play to their potential, and can keep the game to regulation time, the final might yet become a historic upset.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary today chronicled that with all of the internal issues FIFA needs to focus on and with such a public image problem to overcome the idea that they should show concern about the World Cup broadcasters’ choices when showing audience members enjoying the game is just hysterical.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary found that FIFA also found it important to fine the English Football Association $70,000 because three of its players wore “unauthorized” socks during their quarterfinal game against Sweden.
With VAR being so poorly used in its inaugural World Cup Papa will keep track of the manner in which infractions and unsportsmanlike acts decide games throughout the cup.
Wow #1—on every play Croatia has inside the English half of the field the English defenders grab the lead Croatian player. Then, upon the change of possession they pick whomever comes to mark the English ball carrier. Both are yellow card fouls.
Wow #2—Now it is becoming a farce! There have been several penalties in favor of Croatia that have gone uncalled and unreviewed and then the one that is suggested by the VAR team to be reviewed, the one at the end of the half, the one that clearly shows there was a penalty and obviously the VAR team thought it important enough to bring up after the whistle blew, that one, the ref decides not to even look at it!! Please, this is beginning to look like another FIFA sanctioned white wash, why not a Croatia vs. France final? Would it happen to be more lucrative for FIFA to have an England-France final? Shame!!! Now what are they going to do with a Croatia-France final? Let’s guess…
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary will continue to keep tabs on the cup’s scorers to see if the initial goal scoring tendency continues, as so far, of the 150 goals actually scored in the tournament (11 more have been own goals for a total of 161 tallies) 25% (38) have been converted by La Liga players while 23% (34) have been scored by Premiership stars. The remaining 52% have been scored by all other leagues combined.
On Saturday, July 14th, Belgium and England will meet again only this time, at 10:00 AM EST in St. Petersburg, it will be to determine the third and fourth placed teams of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary Predictions
Sixty-two games played. 64% correct calls
Right calls–(39)—Correctly called 30 group stage matches and nine knockout round matches.
Papa made an “push (no call)” on the Iceland-Nigeria game, but called it for Iceland after the cup began, so this prediction is not credited as right or wrong (1).
Wrong calls–(22)—Incorrectly called 17 group stage matches and five knockout round matches.