2018 World Cup gives everyone moments to remember

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-16 03:14:32|Editor: yan
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by Paul Giblin

MOSCOW, July 15 (Xinhua) -- In the end it was Didier Deschamps in the rain, looking up at the stands after his side beat Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final, water dripping down his face and golden ticker tape in his hair and on his jacket...

Two years ago, he'd been the loser after Portugal defeated France 1-0 in the European Championships and now the French had redemption and the World at their feet.

Although the events at a World Cup are universal, everyone who travels to watch or work at the tournament has their own personal experiences, moments which were special to them.

Now that the curtain has finally drawn on Russia 2018 and France were crowned as champions in a rainy Moscow, it's time to look back at some of the best and worst moments which will stick in my mind from the games I covered from stadiums over the past five weeks.

To be honest Uruguay's 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia won't stay long in my memory, mainly for the fact that as soon as Luis Suarez opened the scoring the winner was never in doubt. However, the Saudi's recovered well to claim some Group A pride with a late winner to defeat Egypt 2-1 in a baking Volgograd, where the disappointment was to see that Mohamed Salah was clearly lacking match fitness.

Japan and Poland's footballing truce with Poland 1-0 up but with Japan assured of a place in the last 16 with 10 minutes remaining, was perhaps a personal low point, especially as the Japanese showed in every other game they played, that they are an exciting and aggressive team to watch.

Even the Japan coach admitted in his press conference that he hadn't been happy with what he had done. Neither was anyone else in the Volgograd Arena with a chorus of boos and whistles.

So onto the good stuff and Spain's 3-3 draw with Portugal in Sochi was a great way to start out with a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in a game that gave no hint that neither team would make it past the last 16. In fact Spain's performance implied they had not been too badly affected by the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui just 48 hours before kick-off. How wrong we were...

Brazil's 1-1 draw against Switzerland in Rostov-On-Don did, however, show that for all their attacking talent Neymar and company would have problems with their link-up between midfield and attack, although the Swiss also showed they deserve to be taken far more seriously as a football nation. One memory in the lead up to that game was 'sambaing' Brazilians on the flight from Moscow; not great for a nervous flier if the truth be told.

Brazil looked to be back on track when they beat Mexico 2-0 in the last 16; frustrating for the Mexicans, who have reached the same stage in 5 World Cups and never got past it. After the first 20 minutes in Samara it looked pretty obvious that history was going to repeat itself.

The big talking point of that game was the accusations of 'play-acting' against Neymar, who needed 4 minutes treatment after Mexico defender Miguel Layun trod on his ankle. There was contact (impossible to see from the stands) ... but how much there actually was remains a moot point, although 'Twitter' very quickly made up its mind about the striker who is still rolling as I write.

Having watched England's campaign from a distance, it was nice to still be in Samara to see them progress to the last four with a comfortable 2-0 win against Sweden. Harry Maguire rose like a Sputnik to head home the opening goal and confirm him (in my eyes at least) as one of the players of the tournament.

France's semi-final performance against Belgium was criticized for being over defensive by some of the Belgian players after their 1-0 defeat. I thought it was a fascinating game in the splendour of St Petersburg; two tactically intelligent sides testing each other to the limits and separated by the narrowest of margins, with the best team on the night winning.

And that set up the final act of the tournament: Kylian Mbappe tearing down the wing: Antoine Griezmann and French celebrations 24 hours after Bastille Day and Deschamps looking skywards as the fireworks went off and the rain came down.

It's been a month and a day... time to go home, until the next time in Qatar 2022, which will have moments of its own.