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Russia’s World Cup in hindsight

Friday, July 20, 2018
Alvin Corneal

Now that the world has recognised that France is the winner of the prestigious World Cup Trophy, congratulations are certainly in order. Croatia fought a tremendous battle throughout the tournament and looked very much like taking the trophy for the first thirty-five minutes, where the skill and creativity of Modric, Rakitic and Mondruzic appeared to be gaining ascendancy for their team.

However, the French came with an adjusted form of attack which not only forced the Croatians but tested their shortage of endurance and mental focus. France could continue to mould an even more talented squad with the development of Mbappe, Greismann, Umtitti, Pogba, and Matuidi, all of whom will be in the height of their careers four years from now.

In hindsight, while the results should not be challenged, there were obvious reasons why the list of Spain, Portugal, Germany, Argentina and Brazil may have retarded their progress as far as their physical, mental fitness and the much needed courageous efforts of which they have always been in previous World Cup finals.

With the number of high profile doctors who specialise in the area of sports medicines, it will be interesting to see what their prognosis could be when they take a critical view of the majority of players in these favourite football countries, failed to perform during the early period of the tournament.

Can we really claim that the performances of players like Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, James Rodriguez, Mueller, and Ozil to name a few, were similar to what they have been capable of during their clubs’ league and champions league campaigns earlier on this season?

Some supporters may have missed the dates of the ending the Bundesliga, The La Liga, The EPL which was in late May while the rest period leading to the Russia tournament started some twenty days towards June 14th.

What will these players have been through in the practice field with the preparation of their national teams?

What level of recovery capabilities would they have had under their “new” or National coach?

Honestly, they looked well short of ideal preparation in the early stages and it was exposed by teams like Sweden, Mexico, Japan, the host country Russia, and the tough military type commitment from Iceland and Denmark.

Even the well-tuned Columbia, Uruguay, Senegal and Iran showed some capabilities on the field in a manner which forced all the big clubs to make their extra efforts to gain points.

However, this issue should not deprive the four top teams of receiving tremendous kudos for their wonderful and purposeful contributions to the great game.

One can take a serious view of the officials and the VAR system in order to continue searching for excuses. I will desist from that area, but will certainly understand that the use of the VAR input which was regular in the first round, was reduced tremendously for the matches in the final eight round.

I believe that FIFA may have recognised the confusing state of the decision-making process between the referees and the system and quietly played it down.

Finally, having an overall view of all the matches played is always difficult, but there were some countries like Morocco, Iran, Russia, Senegal, South Korea, Peru and Mexico seemed to have arrived on the premier list. Maybe, the next big tournaments will prove their worth. I commend the coaches of those teams for their structural and organised pattern of play and more importantly, their ability to change the tactical formulas during the course of the matches when the need arose. Well done to the coaches.

Tomorrow is another day and the real lovers of Football like me will now sit and view the improvement of teams across the world.


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