World Cup 2018: Semi-finals Recap

13 Jul

Croatia. What? Croatia. What? Croatia! The team the European Union (re)built. Up against France. The team Africa built. I don’t recall anyone predicting this match-up for the final. I don’t recall anyone predicting France beyond the semi-finals or Croatia beyond the Group Stage. Not that I read them all, because, umm, why?!

Those articles take away from what’s so compelling about team sports. You can analyze all the numbers, compose statistical models, and post your biased opinions everywhere but these actions can never capture the passion and collaboration occurring within a team in-flight. A team’s X factor is elusive and beguiling and analytically-agnostic. Just as we emotional beings want and need it to be.

Speaking of beguiling, here’s Croatian defender Domagoj Vida’s son David to melt your heart –

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I enjoyed watching some English journalists getting their knickers in a twist on Twitter over Modric’s comments after the game. Just because someone may be perceived as quiet doesn’t mean they (a) don’t know what’s what and (b) are afraid to call you out when given the opportunity. Deal with it.

While everyone seems to love Modric outside of Croatia (maybe a little less in England now), not everyone loves him back home. Corruption in football, you say? Hmmmm.

Over to the third place game which is basically a pre-season EPL match-up. There are less than a handful of players between the Belgium and England teams who don’t presently play or have previously played in the EPL. Does this lend credence to arguments that the Premier League is the best league in the world? Nah, because look at the league representation for the final:

Yes, France is in the final so theoretically Ligue 1 should have high representation. But not the highest! You could field a whole starting lineup just with La Liga players.

Representation matters for France and in France and by extension in French football. As people were celebrating the team’s progress, French MPS voted to officially remove the word “race” from the constitution and to replace it with “sex”. All citizens are to now be considered equal under French law “regardless of sex, origin or religion.” Do you agree race is a social construct like France does? That it is possible for racism to truly not exist?

FIFA announced all doping tests completed before and during the World Cup thus far have yielded negative results. In summary,

  • On average, every player from the four remaining teams has been tested 4.41 times since January, with some of them tested eight times
  • Adverse analytical findings: 1 (the player was in possession of a therapeutic use exemption for the substance detected)
  • Atypical findings* that were not determined as adverse analytical findings: 3
  • Therapeutic use exemptions: 2

They also announced they’ve opened disciplinary proceeding against England for “possible discriminatory” chanting during the semi-final vs Croatia. Wonder if all the “It’s coming home” promotional garbage could be thought of as discriminatory.

Remember the England vs Colombia petition I wrote about previously? An England fan has now started a new petition to have that petition closed because it is “a farcical campaign created by sore losers in an unsportsmanlike manner.” I wonder if that person’s definition of sore loser extends to the England fans involved with the petition to have Cuneyt Cakir disciplined for his ‘poor refereeing’ in the England vs Croatia game. All of these people sound like sore losers to me.

And lastly, twenty Kenyan senators and National Assembly members used public money to travel to Russia for the semi-finals and final. Hardly a good look for a country long plagued by corruption scandals and financial misdeeds.

World Cup 2018 By Numbers and Photos

Largest attendance: Russia vs Saudi Arabia, 78,011
Lowest attendance: Egypt vs Uruguay, 27,015
Average attendance: 44,972

Total goals: 161
Hat-tricks: 2
Braces: 10
Penalty kicks: 28
Penalty goals: 21
Own goals: 11

Goals: Harry Kane ENG (6)
Assists: Antoine Griezmann FRA, Philippe Coutinho BRA, Eden Hazard BEL, Thomas Meunier BEL, Éver Banega ARG, Lionel Messi ARG, Viktor Claesson SWE, Juan Quintero COL, Wahbi Khazri TUN, Aleksandr Golovin RUS, James Rodríguez COL, Carlos Sánchez URU, Youri Tielemans BEL (2)
Shots (excl blocked): Neymar BRA (18)
Chances created: Neymar BRA (23)
Passes: Sergio Ramos ESP (508)
Saves: Guillermo Ochoa CRA (25)

Yellow cards: 213
Red cards: 4
Most fouls on a single player: 10 (Switzerland vs Neymar)
Most MOTM Awards: Harry Kane ENG, Luca Modric CRO (3)

Semi-final: France (1) vs Belgium (0)

Is this where I can make my escape?
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Precious cargo
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Hurdle cleared
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The Giroud
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Belgium Steel
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What it’s all about
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Pogba vs Hazard, true to form
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Semi-final: England (1) vs Croatia (2)

Harry who?
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A little help from my friends
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By angles and degrees
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“Just let me hold you for a little longer now”
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Next generation
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The game was just the warm-up act
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The Pickford?
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Who has the best photos of this moment? Yup.
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– hopechaser

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