Cityblog Live

CityBlog is back with all fresh local news, views, opinions, jobs, food and entertainment. Do send us your blog contributions to us for publishing at

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

World Cup Soccer Memories and 2018 World Cup Analysis

My first memory of WC soccer dates back to 1982 when DD telecasted opening match of WC 92 in Spain where past winners Argentina was defeated. DD telecasted sfs and finals. W Germany vs France SF was epic. Paulo Rossi headed Brazil out in QF, defeated Poland and again headed  out W Germany in finals. Some story.
Then came world cup involving hand of god. Last minute hosts Mexico offered memorable World cup involving Maradona. Goals he scored vs Belgium , England (other than hand of god goal) were out of world. Final with W Germany was phenomenal. Many good teams like France with Platini, Brazil will Zico, Socretes etc, Denmark, Spain. All the matches were telecasted on DD (live or recorded due to time diff). DD used to be shut by 11.30 to reopen at 6 am. Strange in 24/7 age
1990 world cup in Italy was bit boring with some non classical but tactical soccer. Maradona still showed mettle by defeating Brazil, and reaching finals thanks to  penalty shootout performance. Germany finally succeeded to win finals thanks to a controversial penalty. Teams from Africa like Cameroon. Trio of Netherlands van basten rudd, rickaard flopped. England made to semis. Hosts had unknown hero in schillachi to reach semis. New stars like Bagiio, Owen showed their top skills.
I saw 1994 USA WC in hostel during summer breaks. I was doing project and hostel was almost empty with around 30 odd students on projects. We enjoyed night outs  with canteen egg food. Again African teams like nigeria excelled. East Europen teams like Romania as well as Scandinavian teams like Sweden excelled. Brazil vs Netherlands QF was excellent thanks to some great play by Romario, Bergkamp.  Italy vs Brazil played cat and mouse final with no score and Brazil won on penalties. Baggio played well but missed penalty.
1998 I was in bachelor company accommodation in Mumbai. It rained heavily in Mumbai. Luckily we survived thanks to local restaurant who sent parcels across the road for food water etc. France won finals when Ronaldo had seizures. It was Golden french generation of zidanne, deschamps, henry , bartez, lablanc name them all. Croatia excelled. Italy England , Argentina, Netherlands made their presence felt till QFs /semis.
I saw live WC soccer match in Korea in 2002. Dream come true thanks to my Korean partner and timing of my stay there. Hosts Korea reached SFs while Japan made it to knowckout. Korea killed many giants like Italy Spain till Germany outplayed them. Brazil and Germany progressed to Finals. Turkey excelled. Finally Ronaldo made his presence felt in finals and Brazil won.
2006 Germany was marked by controversial head butt in finals. Italy overcame jinx of penalties and won the finals against France. Brazil lost due to Roberto Carlos non actionvs France in QF. Portugal did well to reach semis and Ronaldo was introduce on world stage along with Messi though Agrentina lost in round of 16. Italians defeated hosts Germany with nation and president crying.
2010 world cup was hosted in Africa for first time in South Africa. This was height of Spanish empire with WC trophy sandwiched between two euro wins. Possession football as a strategy finally showed results. It was Golden Spanish generation. Netherlands reached finals with likes of Robben, Van Persie etc. Spain defeated Germany in semis. Urugway also excelled with likes of Suarez.
2014 world cup in Brazil was crazy with Germans gaining hold of trophy by winning final in penalties over Argentina (so near but yet so far for Messi) Brazil had nightmare evening in semis vs Germany. Netherlands also reached semifinals. Soccer was bit low on quality but Topsy-turvy .
Now then we reach present. 2018 I am in far land and with lagging time zone. So had time to follow matches and details. Had rampant Whatapp /facebook discussions during live match. Soccer was special and matches were exciting and scoring. Here is an analysis:
While teams that hogged the ball struggled to score, many of the most effective sides were able to tactically exploit free kicks and corners to give themselves a crucial edge—and at a higher rate than ever before France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in Sunday’s World Cup final brought an end to five weeks of thrilling soccer and shocking upsets. It also means there is no longer a convenient excuse to sneak out to that bar near the office in the middle of the day.

But it also brings an end to the World Cup as we know it. The 2022 tournament in Qatar will be played in the winter, running from Nov. 21 through Dec. 18, and could yet be expanded to 48 teams. It will also be played in a country of 2.5 million people with a smaller geographic footprint than Connecticut and no meaningful soccer legacy.
Even as the last of its kind, the 2018 World Cup will likely influence the game for years thanks to a series of transformative developments that took place in Russia and fundamentally changed what we know about international soccer. To mount its best World Cup run since 1998, Croatia had to make a squad of nearly-identical players fit together
So here’s a breakdown of the tactical and technical evolutions that unfolded from Ekaterinburg to Moscow.

Croatia kick off at the start of the World Cup final. They held possession for 60% of the match.  
International soccer had been ruled by the possession-based approach for a decade. Ever since Spain won the European Championship in 2008 by playing an elaborate game of keep-away, the teams that dominated the ball were the teams that dominated the biggest tournaments. S
Spain followed its Euro 2008 win by claiming the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro, before Germany passed the opposition to death on its way to lifting the World Cup in 2014.
But somewhere on the way to Russia, that patient approach was surpassed by something more purposeful. The best teams at this World Cup still knew how to pass the ball effectively, but also exhibited a directness that made the likes of Spain and Germany look positively labored.
“I’ve never seen a World Cup like that. There was a leveling toward the top,” said France’s winning manager Didier Deschamps after Les Bleus won the final with just 40% of the ball. “The teams that commanded the most possession, almost every time, were punished by quick counters.”
So many matches at this tournament boiled down to a simple question: How well did each team handle set pieces?
At this World Cup, 30% of the goals were scored on set pieces, according to Opta. That’s a jump from 22% in 2014 and 26% from 1994 to 2014.
Every team that made a deep run here obsessed over these plays. Russia’s quarterfinal dash was buoyed by five set-piece goals. The only ones that scored more: world champion France and fourth-place England.
English manager Gareth Southgate was so laser-focused on them that when he attended a Minnesota Timberwolves game in February, he saw it as an opportunity to see how NBA players manage to wiggle free and find space so close to the basket. Then, en route to its surprise run to semifinals, England racked up more set-piece goals than any other team in the tournament.
This trend was on full display in the first half of the final, too. For much of the early going, Croatia dominated possession and appeared to have the edge. But France’s first set piece was all it needed to get on the board first. Antoine Griezmann bent in a free kick that skimmed off the head of a Croatian player for an own goal. France was in front despite not having had a single shot on target.
Croatia retaliated with a set-piece goal of its own on a corner kick. Even France’s second goal, which gave Les Bleus the lead for the rest of the game, came from a dead-ball situation when Griezmann buried a penalty.
England didn’t get the World Cup triumph it was hoping for—football didn’t come home—but English soccer did manage to conquer the World Cup through its presence of players who play in EPL .Of the more than 700 players who traveled to Russia, 107 of them spent last season at clubs in the English Premier League. Yet 40 survived all the way to the semifinals. When Belgium faced France, for instance, 14 of the 22 starters on the field plied their trade in England at clubs as storied as Manchester City and as unremarkable as West Bromwich Albion. Players from Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea made up the spine of the French squad in the final, from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to center forward Olivier Giroud. “It’s a victory for the Premier League,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Of course, the World Cup’s controversial replay review system was going to yield a controversial decision in the World Cup final.
Midway through the first half, with the game tied 1-1, France swung in a corner. It went out of bounds. And immediately, the French players were outraged: It was a handball in the box, they argued.
Following a delay on the pitch while the officials decided whether or not to review the call, the referee did just that. After another pause on the sidelines, he emerged with a decision: penalty kick for France. Antoine Griezmann buried it to give the French their 2-1 lead.
“In a World Cup final,” Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic said, “you do not give such a penalty.”

This was everything in a nutshell about video assistant referee (VAR)—the new system FIFA implemented before this World Cup, following in the footsteps of some leagues across the world. It arguably corrected a high-leverage call that was missed. But it also delayed the game while some weren’t even sure afterward that the final decision was the proper one.
There’s no denying VAR’s influence on this World Cup: Nine penalties were handed out because of the new system. Some games, such as Iran-Portugal in the group stage, were frequently interrupted because of VAR. French players in the final frequently looked as if they belonged at Bolshoi Theatre as they pantomimed the gesture for video review, wagging two fingers in the shape of a TV screen.
But no matter how coaches, players and fans feel about the system, it almost certainly isn’t going anywhere. If the recent history of replay review in leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MLB have shown us, the controversy around the technology sometimes results in it simply becoming more pervasive.
Love it or hate it, VAR will likely be a part of the World Cup forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment