In 2018, Russia hosted the FIFA World Cup for the 21st time, from June 14 to July 15. The tournament was held for the first time in Russia. After a 210-team qualifying procedure set a new high, only 32 teams were left to qualify for the trophy (the team of Russia as host nation was automatically qualified). For the first time, Iceland and Panama qualified.
The novelty video assistant referee device was the topic of much discussion both before and after the tournament began (VAR). For the first time in the World Cup, a referee’s verdict could be overturned following an analysis of the case using video clips. In addition, cases in which the referee has not acted may result in messages by assistant referees with access to video recordings resulting in retrospective action.
It was a major move, and the system proved to be critical in many games. For eg, in penalty cases, the referee now has the option of reviewing the situation on camera before making a final decision. The first time VAR had an impact on a decision was in the match between France and Australia, where France was awarded a penalty based on video assistance.
As a result, a higher target average than normal was one of the possible VAR results to assume. While the target average was higher than in 2006 and 2010, it was not as high as in 2014.
The previous tournament’s format was used for this one. In other words, a first round of a group stage composed of eight four-team groups will advance to a knockout round in the second round.
Cities and arenas
The games will be held in twelve stadiums across eleven countries. The final will be held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium (attendance 78,011).
The host country, Russia, was the lowest-ranked team by FIFA, with a fourth-place finish in 1966 as their best World Cup result to date, but they began with a bang, crushing Saudi Arabia 5 to 0 in the opening match. They continued to perform beyond expectations by defeating Egypt, despite the presence of the much-hyped Mohamed Salah on the stage. Uruguay, headed by forwards Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani, defeated Russia 3-0 in the third group match, but both teams advanced to the knockout stage.
In the knockout round, Russia will be participating in two dramatic contests. They eliminated Denmark in the Round of 16 after winning on penalties. It was their turn in the quarter-finals to experience the agony of missing a penalty shootout.
During the group process, some of the favourites ran into difficulties. In Group B, Spain and Portugal didn’t know whether they’d advance before the final blow in their third match. Argentina will already be in a tight race to progress to the next round, but a win in the third game could guarantee a place in the Round of 16.
Germany, on the other hand, had to withdraw from the tournament after finishing last in their group and losing to South Korea in the third match.
Just eight countries had ever won the World Cup until the 2018 tournament. Two of the players, Belgium and Croatia, were not among them when the competition reached the semi-finals.
After a one-goal advantage, France defeated Belgium in the first semi-final, and Croatia defeated England in the second semi-final. Croatia could become the first country to win the FIFA World Cup in this manner. France will once again prove to be too good and prevail for the second time (first time in 1998).
France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final (most goals in a World Cup final during ordinary time since 1958).