We will have to wait another four years to live again the excitement and passion that a FIFA World Cup gives us. 2022 will be the year that Qatar will have the chance to fill us with furore after 2018 Russia gave us the thrills, making France the world champion after a 20-year wait when the team won their first cup on their own home.
The Concept of “Big Teams” Has Fallen Down
2018 Russia has shown a narrowing on the differences between big and small teams. Neither Brazil, Germany, Argentina nor Spain made it to Luzhniki to be on the final match of the championship. Croatia, a team that wasn’t on anyone bets got there and scored the second place, shocking everybody.
Joga Bonito, no More
South American football stopped shining. Ever since 2002 Korea/Japan, when Brazil won their fifth championship, no other South American team has risen as the champion. Europe dominates with a somewhat latino touch, as did Spain (2010), Germany (2014) and now France, and don’t forget the delightful football shown by Belgium and Croatia.
There is no “I” in Team
France, Belgium and Croatia, teams that got as far as semifinals, are not dependants on a single player. They play a more collective, modern football, with an ease to modify their tactics during the plays, where every player is as worthy as the other. Teamwork surpassed those Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar dependant teams.
The best managers are not necessarily those who have played the “big leagues”. Dídier Deschamps (France) and Zlatko Dalic (Croatia), the two managers who took their teams to the 2018 finals, are a living proof of this. Who can put their capabilities as strategists to a test right now?
Goals scored by free kicks were key in this world cup. Just in the first phase, there were 122 goals, where 43% (53) were scored by free kicks (penalties, corners and free kicks). That exposes how much work and effort was given to coaches and trainers.
Ball Possession is Not a Winning Factor
Ball possession is not a synonym to winning. France won the 2018 world cup with nearly 50% possession of the ball. Adding all the games from Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium, the French team had the ball only 46% of the time, give or take, on average.
VAR was a huge success and showed there was a need for it in the sport. Offside goals are a thing of the past now, VAR is making referees’ lives easier, and turning the game into a more complex sport. There is, of course, a thing that VAR can’t fix, though, and it’s hands. Hands on the area are obviously shown by the videos, but it’s up to the referees to say if a hand was on purpose or just an unavoidable incident.
Defence Can be a Great Attack
Defence players are not only there to avoid goals against their teams, but also to make them for the team. Players such as Umtiti, Vida, Varane, Rojo, Mina were executioners when it came to attacks. Before the Croatia-England match, defensive players had scored 27 goals (midfielders scored 54 and strikers 68).