Date: June 14 – July 15
France beat Croatia four goals to two in the final, winning their second world title. Les Bleus dominated the match, especially in the second half, comfortably lifting the trophy at the end. Kylian Mbappé, Raphael Varane, Hugo Lloris and Antoine Griezmann were some of the best players representing their country on the field.
The Croatian National team was an unexpected protagonist, reaching their first World Cup final with an effective level of play. Their key players were Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic, and Ivan Perisic.
Belgium finished third, overcoming England two nil with goals from Thomas Meunier y Eden Hazard. Belgium, in my opinion, had a perfect team: a strong defense (Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld) and an outstanding offense (Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku); but could not beat France on the semifinals.
Germany, 2014 champions, had a terrible performance, two losses (Mexico and South Korea) and one tie (Sweden), ending last of Group F. Poland -with Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik and Wojciech Szczesny- were also a disappointment, unable to reach the Round of 16 with their two losses (Colombia and Senegal) and one victory (Japan); also finishing last of their group.
There were no changes in the format. Eight groups of four teams, with the two best reaching the knockout stages (Round of 16, quarter-finals, and semifinals).
France vs. Belgium: 1 – 0
Goal: Samuel Umtiti 51′
Croatia vs. England: 2 – 1
Goals: Kieran Trippier 5′, Ivan Perisic 68′, Mario Mandzukic 109′
Belgium vs. England: 2 – 0
Goals: Thomas Meunier 4′, Eden Hazard 82′
France vs. Croatia: 4 – 2
Goals: Mario Mandzukic 18′ (own gol), Ivan Perisic 28′, Antoine Griezmann 38′ (penalty), Paul Pogba 59′, Kylian Mbappé 65′, Mario Mandzukic 69′
|1. Harry Kane||England||6||6|
|2. Antoine Griezmann||France||7||4|
|3. Romelu Lukaku||Belgium||6||4|
[Images property of Ficha Deportiva: Panini S.p.A. – Modena Album]