So, the 2018 Men’s World Cup has come to an end, which means that all of the visiting journalists, having returned safely to their home nations, may go back to telling us what they really think of Russia.
In the 64 matches that were played, we saw a lot of set piece goals, a lot of ¡autogolazo!s, a lot of video reviews, a lot of penalties, and a lot of favoured teams fail spectacularly. It may be difficult to sort through your memories of all these events, or to distinguish the accurate memories from those that you exaggerated in your mind. But that is why the GoobNet Football Committee is here.
Note: That’s not actually why the GoobNet Football Committee is here. The actual reason for the existence of the GoobNet Football Committee has never been revealed to us and is shrouded in mystery. Jhonny keeps saying he’ll show it to us, but then he just says that he lost it behind the couch or something. We are starting to suspect that the reason for the existence of the GoobNet Football Committee is just as specious as the reason Debbie and Edvard are back together.
|Round of sixteen||P||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts|
|Eliminated in group phase||P||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts|
France 04-03 Argentina, SAT 30 JUN 2018
Debbie says: After falling behind to an early spot kick by Antoine Griezmann, Argentina scored a delightful equaliser shortly before the half from Ángel Di Maria, and went in front shortly after. But Les Bleus responded with three goals in the space of ten minutes, including two from Kylian Mbappé. Just to ensure one last burst of excitement, Sergio Agüero cut France’s lead in half in stoppage time. Honourable mention to the final, the most thrilling final we have had since 1986.
Denmark 00-00 France, TUE 26 JUN 2018
Edvard says: France were already assured of a place in the last sixteen, and they played like it. Denmark needed only a draw to assure their own place in the last sixteen, and they played like it. The result was the tournament’s only goalless draw, and the tournament’s only match in which both teams were booed off the pitch.
Russia 02-02 Croatia [F/OT; pen: 03-04], SAT 07 JUL 2018
Debbie says: In this quarterfinal, the pendulum swung wildly. Denis Cheryshev put Russia ahead in the 31st minute, but Croatia equalised just eight minutes later. There were no more goals before the extra time, but Croatian supporters were in a panic when goalkeeper Danijel Subašić was treated for an injury after their three changes had been made. Regardless, Subašić remained in the match, even after the extra time began, and Croatia went ahead through a header by Domagoj Vida off a corner. Russia equalised again, on a header by Mário Fernandes five minutes from time, and with the crowd in Sochi in delirium, the penalty shootout looked certain to go Russia’s way. Fedor Smolov, however, opened the shootout with a weak shot that Subašić saved easily, which effectively took the crowd out of the match again. Croatia made four of their five attempts and moved on to the semifinal.
Pussy Riot, Russia
Wen says: The four pitch invaders during the final turned out to be members of Pussy Riot, a Russian protest organisation whose protests often take the form of anti-Putin songs sung whilst wearing pink balaclavas. In this case, however, their protest took the form of taking to the pitch in the 51st minute, wearing old Russian police uniforms, and demanding the release of political prisoners and an end to persecution of opposition parties.
Gareth SOUTHGATE, England
Debbie says: England manager Southgate earns this award for finally realising that maybe England squads should practise penalty shootouts instead of just leaving it up to chance.
Lionel MESSI, Argentina
Edvard says: Television commentators breathlessly hyped the world’s two biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo opened with a hat trick in his first match, which the punditry declared was a throwing down of the gauntlet in Messi’s face. The punditry, however, failed to realise that Portugal and Argentina were not in the same group and could not face one another until the quarterfinals at the earliest. In any case, Messi had a largely forgettable tournament, with one goal scored and one wrong penalty, and his team fell to the eventual champions France in the round of sixteen.
Kepa ARRIZABALAGA, Spain
Jhonny says: Arrizabalaga is a backup goalkeeper for Spain but did not see any action. Which is too bad, really. The Basque Country has long been a home for breathtakingly named goalkeepers: Andoni Zubizarreta, Sergio Goycochea, and Javier Urruticoechea all claim Basque heritage. We here at GoobNet can only hope that Arrizabalaga is the heir apparent to David de Gea.
Tie: Carlos SÁNCHEZ, Colombia; Carlos SÁNCHEZ, Uruguay
Jhonny says: Have we in fact found the most South American name?
Rúnar Alex RÚNARSSON, Iceland
Jhonny says: Going forward, let us begin to issue a new award: the Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson Award, Named for Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, for the Most Redundant Name and for Excellence in Naming Redundancy by Redundantly Naming Things with Names That Are Redundant.
Yann SOMMER, Switzerland
Wen says: In a tournament that set a record with twelve own goals, one of them in the final, how can we decide who receives the coveted Jeff Agoos ¡Autogolazo! Award? Well, it’s not easy; most of these own goals were simply deflections and were not all that ¡autogolazo!tacular. So we’ll just have to give it to Switzerland keeper Yann Sommer, who registered his ¡autogolazo! on a stoppage time penalty against Costa Rica. Bryan Ruiz’s spot kick struck the crossbar and rebounded in off the back of the head of the diving Sommer.
Danny MAKKELIE, Netherlands
Edvard says: In the Korea Rep-Germany match in Group F, assistant referee Frank Anderson initially ruled Kim Young Gwon’s stoppage time goal offside. But some quick intervention from Makkelie and his team notified match referee Mark Geiger that Kim was in fact onside, and Geiger changed his ruling and allowed the goal to stand. Makkelie and Geiger may now be persona non grata in Germany, but the fact is that they corrected a clear and obvious error and restored a goal that was perfectly legal.
Felix ZWAYER, Germany
Edvard says: In the Serbia-Switzerland match in Group E, Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrović was dragged down in the area by two Swiss defenders. In advance of the tournament, FIFA instructed referees to be more vigilant about contact, particularly holding, in the penalty area. But in this case, quite possibly the most egregious example of such behaviour in the entire tournament, Zwayer took no action.
Massimiliano IRRATI, Italy
Edvard says: Irrati took charge of the VAR room for fourteen matches, including the final. But he receives this award for the Iran-Portugal match in Group B, in which referee Enrique Cáceres went to the monitor three times. The most notable was late in the second half, when Cristiano Ronaldo struck Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji in the face; though Cáceres eventually decided to give a yellow card, this sort of situation, a potential red card offense that the referee did not initially see, is exactly the point of VAR. However, the other two reviews were debatable penalty calls, which were not clear and obvious. Irrati did not need to notify the referee for those incidents.
Sergey IGNASHEVICH, Russia
Debbie says: In Russia’s round of 16 match against Spain, Sergey tackled Sergio Ramos in the area, exactly the sort of offense that referees were asked to take special note of in this tournament. But in this case, poetic justice was served automatically, as the free kick deflected off Sergey’s leg and into his own net. Although perhaps poetic justice stopped paying attention after that, because Russia ended up winning on penalties.
Wen says: The Incas returned to the Men’s World Cup wearing almost exactly the same thing they wore in 1982: a clean, simple design of white with a red sash.
Secondary kits, Croatia
Wen says: The Blazers of Croatia, of course, are famous for their red and white checkered kits. Since their independence, their second kit has generally been blue with some sort of checkered trim somewhere on there. This time, however, Nike came up with what they surely thought was a brilliant idea: a black and blue checkered kit. To make matters worse, we were forced to endure this monstrosity five times during the tournament. The red and white only made its appearance in their opener against Nigeria and in the final.
Primary kit, Nigeria
Wen says: Most teams in Russia wore something sensible. But when the rest of the world goes sensible, you can count on the Super Eagles to go silly. This uniform featured a pattern of chevrons, or possibly television static, in the return of Chernobyl Green for some reason.
Russia 05-00 Saudi Arabia, THU 14 JUN 2018
Jhonny says: For millions of viewers with deuteranomaly, the tournament was off to a rough start, as Russia, in red, faced Saudi Arabia, in green.
Penalty shootout graphics, FIFA
Jhonny says: FIFA’s graphics for penalty shootouts in the elimination phase were as simple as could be: green dots for successful penalties, red dots for failed penalties. [Or as we call them here at GoobNet, “wrong” penalties.] The only problem with that is colour vision deficiency: millions of viewers with deuteranomaly could not distinguish those two colours. Seriously, this is not complicated. Just use little footballs and Xs, and you’re there.
Fair play tiebreaker
Debbie says: The punditry howled with protest when Japan earned second place in Group H ahead of Senegal on the fair play tiebreaker, used for the first time in this Men’s World Cup. They complained that Japan played defensively at the end of their match against Poland, and that this is somehow not fair play. The punditry, yet again, got this one spectacularly wrong. Playing defensively is negative play, not unfair play. Senegal’s two needless yellow cards late in their 2-2 draw with Japan were unfair play. We can only hope that teams will observe what happened to Senegal and take it as a life lesson. Dishonourable mention to Diego Maradona’s tweet about referee Mark Geiger’s “robbery” in the Colombia-England round of 16 match, which failed to take into account the fact that Carlos Sánchez totally committed that foul.
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