It was not a World Cup expected by many. Teams continued to prove octopuses, pundits and anyone else who tried predicting the outcomes wrong. Over the course of these 4 weeks, we have seen major heartbreaking upsets, nerve wracking penalty shootouts, stellar performances and the final was no different whatsoever.
A first time VAR usage in a World Cup final, a first-ever own goal in a World Cup final, a flashy goal from a teenager who represents the change in the old guard of the footballing world, a Pussy Riot pitch invasion and a goalkeeping blunder, it was all happening out there in Moscow that Sunday evening.
Let us look at various things that we learnt from this exciting final as well as the entire tournament!
#1 Les Bleus domination
It is really difficult to outline the magnitude of domination that the French had over this World Cup. Croatia on their part outlasted historic teams which were richly talented and almost talismanic.
Teams like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Belgium or even England were ousted from this World Cup race. A fact that no one can deny is that Croatia reached the finals on their merits. Croatia played superior quality football than most of these nations.
Advance to the finals and France found them absolutely out of sorts. The young core of the French football team almost harassed and exploited gaping holes in the usually composed and seasoned Croatian team. Now this is a team (Croatia) that has beaten the likes of Argentina and England. Mind-boggling, right!?
Wait for it, because there is more! The French were able to pull all this off with essentially 10 men only, because their primary center forward Olivier Giroud didn't have a single shot on target the entire World Cup. If this isn't absolute and pure supremacy of the French footballing system, then I don't know what is.
#2 Inspirational Croatia
Led by the Player of the Tournament Luka Modric, there was a strange and unfamiliar sense of determination and spirit to this Croatian side. Ably supported by classy players such as Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić and Mario Mandžukić, Croatia had a midfield and attack to be envied.
With Modric play-making deep in almost a Pirlo-esque fashion, and all the other pieces dutifully falling into place, they were indeed a joy to watch. This World Cup will always be remembered for the grit and work ethic displayed by the Croats who have won the hearts of people worldwide.
One could observe their commitment and drive when Mandžukić forced an error out of Hugo Lloris at a time when the match was all but settled.
Fans and neutrals alike across the world have started affectionately backing and rooting for this barely 27 year old nation and this is a great moment for a country which is yet to find itself totally free from transitional complications.
As the Croatian slogan for this World Cup vocalizes, "Small Country, big dreams"
#3 The winner? Football!
It was a spectacle indeed!
It was a refreshing month of fast paced, dramatic, and extremely high quality and skillful football. This World Cup was also proof of the fact that we are living through a golden era of football in terms of talent and ability.
It was really welcoming to observe the emergence of several players at the biggest stage instead of the standard two-way rivalry which we have been so accustomed to watch.
While the player of the tournament Luka Modric was impressing everyone with his graceful brilliance, the best young player of the tournament awardee Kylian Mbappe was on his way to becoming a global superstar by netting in the first World Cup final goal by a teenager since Pele in an extremely Pele-esque manner.
At the same time Harry Kane was stamping his authority on the World Cup by leading England to an amazing 4th place finish while winning the World Cup Golden Boot.
It is fitting that the quality of the event as well as the exhilarating nature of the fixtures took center stage instead of the off field drama (well, at least through most of the tournament) and it was one of the most exciting World Cups in recent memory.
#4 FIFA World Cup bringing cultures together
This is easily one of the most famous pictures of the World Cup final.
It was indeed a merry sight to see these leaders share the stage and greet, congratulate or condole literally everyone with hugs and love.
It is amazing how this event brought together different communities and cultures on the same platform where they could feel the same emotions and bond together. This is where we understand how underrated and how powerful sporting events of such magnitude are.
At a time of conflicts and estranged relations, there were some extremely peaceful and enjoyable minutes throughout the World Cup for everyone in the world to watch
Congratulations to France for winning the World Cup, congratulations to Croatia for winning our hearts, Russia (FIFA World Cup 2018 hosts) and the Russian football team as well, you didn't disappoint!