~Gasper Crasto – a view from Kuwait...15.07.2018

FIFA World Cup2018 was quite an exhibition...! France crowned World Champions in a great show.

Hope everyone has resumed ‘normal’ routine especially in India after nights of irregular sleep watching late night games.

Being in Kuwait, in a time-zone same as Russia, we were able to watch the matches at a relaxed convenience – in the comfort of our homes. It couldn’t be any better even in Russia.

LESSONS FROM RUSSIA 2018

Any sporting event offers valuable lessons for all of us. Here’s my ‘take home message’ from the world cup – from the games, players, and even the fans that we watched.

France won the World Cup, but they were not the most spectacular team. Belgium, Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Senegal, Croatia, Portugal, etc, were some of the ‘best’; Iran and Japan too entertained the world.

The fact of the matter however is – whether you are best or not – champions are champions – they hold a special place in history; the runners-up and others are hardly remembered.

France certainly cannot be rated as ‘entertaining champions’. They were not a team with super talent like Germany, Brazil, etc, but were perhaps the strongest unified team. It was their air-tight defence and fast counter attacks that achieved them success.

Luka Modric won the Golden Ball for Best Player of the World Cup. This proved that having superstars like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, etc, did not prove their teams were super.

NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN

Every team certainly has some super-talented wizards and it is natural for fans around the world to look up to these ‘stars’; hero-worship is natural in any sport.

We did have superstars representing various teams but the final of Russia 2018 lacked an icon of the class of Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldinho, etc, to make the World Cup final more cinematic and never to be forgotten.

Young eMbappe, the French striker who emerged as one of the stars of the World cup (voted best young player), may well go on to play another 5 World Cups and will certainly be a luminous star by then.

But expecting celebrity stars to feature in future world cups may be a rarity as the game has become highly competitive – intelligent and calculated.

CAT & MOUSE FOOTBALL

Most victories in the ‘knockout rounds’, were by narrow margins.

Barring a few big wins like 4-3 (France-Argentina); 3-2 Belgium-Japan, and the 4-2 final match between France-Croatia, the games were generally very tight contests with single goal winning-margins being customary.

This is because teams of this era play like cunning foxes and resort to cat and mouse games waiting to pounce on mistakes. One false move and it can be curtains.

Possibly with the help of computer analysts, the quality and tactics of the game has developed such a way, players are trained to be as sharp as automated robots.

The whole team defends nowadays and can effortlessly defend the goal – not allowing even a shot on target.

While the best teams are unable to score when they are most need of a goal (for example Germany losing against Mexico 0-1).

What dimension is the game going forward?

Check:  Video by gaspersWorld
THANK YOU FIFA – RUSSIA 2018 – SOME OF THE BEST MOMENTS https://youtu.be/Onx6DfflL3E

VAR EFFECT

Thanks to VAR, am sure it led to a record number of penalties including the final – it’s working great, you can’t argue with it.

The V.A.R technology has reduced referee’s errors and amplified game results. Players and teams are more scared than ever before, to put a leg wrong – bringing the game ‘down’ to what it is designed for – to play the ball with the foot alone.

With microscopic scans -- enlarged to the world in slow-motion, even a non-playing viewer thinks football can now be judged even by the half-blind.

Still, the VAR decisions during the France-Croatia final left a lot of questions on the referee’s final decision.

The game has turned robotic, and is in danger of losing it’s ‘hot’ and debatable essence which the world, news media and friends used to have after every match.

It is now all VAR which leaves no tit-bits for discussions. After goal line technology, and VAR’s, we might have robots and line-cameras to replace the refs and linesmen in the near future.

Still, the average goals (as per the stats) are below the last world cup. While it could have been much lesser without VAR, future averages are gonna be even more of a scarcity with teams marginalizing errors.

END OF BRAZIL?

For everyone, Brazil are all-time favorites at every world cup -- for Indians and Goans as well. Their victories in Copa America and their players representing top clubs make them ever more popular.

However, their ranking accumulated from meaningless ‘friendly’ matches may not be enough to win them more world cups in future. Although their flair and attacking game is pleasing to watch; they are certainly not as good as they are ‘rated’ which casts a doubt on ‘FIFA rankings’.

It’s a pity Brazil’s main centre forward could not score even a single goal. Intriguing to know that champions France centre-forward too was without a goal or even a shot on target all world cup.  That brings a question – what is the role of the striker? He’s more of a ‘tower’ than a striker.

The modern game has grown much more in ‘physique’, technological intelligence, and in speed (counter-attacks). Belgium, Croatia, France and Japan were great examples of how the game has transformed.

Just skills (Brazil), and past glory (Germany, Spain) are not enough to win world cups.

DOWNFALL OF STARS

The world cup is a great for young footballers who wish to take up the game. A lot can be learnt in football as well as in life from the games played.

On the world stage, tournaments like the world cup show that most players do their countries proud and spread respect around. Players are ambassadors of their nation.

However, many football stars were seen faking injuries and unnecessarily complaining to the referees. This lowered their esteem in the eyes of fans.

Legends like Maradona, respected by millions, made a fool of themselves by stupid actions and gestures; it would be honorable for such celebs to watch from dungeons - not in public certainly.

Winning is great, but being respectful to the team you defeat is even better.

From England’s semi-final defeat we learnt we can’t always be (lucky) winners, so we must be gracious when we lose (the coach did not shed crocodile tears which was dignified and matured of a man). Am sure he took it as part of the cycle of life, to improve and fight another day.

FOOTBALL WINS

From the heart-wrenching tears of fans to the amazing face paints, all games of the World Cup were a treat of human reaction and wisdom.

Scanning the social media, we know how passionate it is for fans of participating countries to be a part of the game. We may not experience that passion till our country gets to play. But that doesn’t stop us or any other country (who has not qualified) from enjoying the global game.

Hope to see FIFA amaze the world once again at Qatar 2022. Long Live FIFA.

If you have an opinion of your own to share, please tap in a comment..!

Older Posts