The World Cup has provided us with weeks of entertainment and VAR controversy. 2014 champions Germany have been the centre of attention, crashing out of the tournament much earlier than anticipated. The latter half of the World Cup groups (E-H) has unpredictably played out to be a competition for the ‘under dogs’ and a thrilling one for England.
Player that surprised us
Romelu Lukaku, the heroic Belgian striker and goal-scoring machine. After a disappointing season at Manchester United, he has worked tirelessly to add four World Cup goals to his tally. Despite not starting against England in the last fixture of Group G due to a slight injury, Lukaku remains a rival contender against Harry Kane for the Golden Boot. Belgium manager Roberto Martínez said:
“He’s not here to be the top goal scorer in the World Cup. He’s here to try to help the team to win and to fulfil his role.”
Furthermore, it appears assistant coach Thierry Henry’s attacking abilities have influenced Lukaku’s powerful and threatening movement to transform him into a well equipped and feared striker.
Team that didn’t turn up
Not one football fan expected a team full of such experience and talent to have already made their shocking World Cup exit. Germany suffered what can only be described as the ‘World Cup champions curse’, falling victim to a downhill pattern (Italy was 2006 champions and exited in 2010. Spain was 2010 champions, losing out in the 2014 group stages. Germany was 2014 champions and plummeted in 2018.)
Joachim Low’s men finished bottom of Group F, leaving England fans with another reason to celebrate. Without Leroy Sané the ageing team were left with little creativity and motivation on the pitch, with an alternative Werner offering nothing for the team – a big let down. Not even a last minute Toni Kroos free kick masterpiece could have saved the Germans.
Game that we loved
England v Panama was every Three Lions fans’ dream, a match full of spectacular goals and prospect. The men in white showcased over a thrashing 6-1 win just how England and Gareth Southgate is a force to be reckoned with. Captain, Harry Kane breaking England’s World Cup hat trick records this early on shows the promise and hunger that England fans have been craving (and how Kane is needed in the starting line up). This match was nothing short of sublime set pieces fresh from the training ground, calm and collected penalties and even two goal-scoring headers from defender John Stones.
Anyone who watched the England v Belgium match, or is active on social media will have seen the comedic moment and unfortunate mishit that Michy Batshuayi provided us with after his team took the lead. The celebration that has gone viral, the celebration that will certainly be remembered as the best moment of the 2018 World Cup –
It really speaks for itself.
You can follow Casey on Twitter @casey_baughan