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It Only Finished Yesterday And We Already Miss The 2018 World Cup

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It Only Finished Yesterday And We Already Miss The 2018 World Cup

There's a good chance this article just becomes a love letter to the World Cup where I just end up listing why it's the most beautiful thing in the world and why I'm so in love with it, after all it's the only person I'm writing a love letter to anytime soon.

The World Cup hasn't even been finished for a whole day and yet here I sat unable to work out what to do with myself without its sweet embrace.

England celebrate winning a penalty shoot-out. Image: PA Images
England celebrate winning a penalty shoot-out. Image: PA Images

All I can do is remember the good times, when there were at least three games a day for over a week straight, and even the not so good times when Mario Mandzukic knocked out beautiful Gareth Southgate's side.

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Even as far back as the opening game this was a wonderful tournament. The opener gave us Russia vs Saudi Arabia, the two lowest ranked teams according to FIFA but still produced a 5-0 tonking by the hosts.

The day after Spain and Portugal played out what would have been game of the tournament for most World Cups in a 3-3 draw that included a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, with a last minute equaliser thrown in and Nacho's wonder strike.

Nacho with a brilliant strike. Image: PA Images
Nacho with a brilliant strike. Image: PA Images

Just over a day into the World Cup and we were already in love.

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But then we had some absolutely cracking moments Iran's failed flip throw in, Tite being pushed over by his own substitute, Sergei Ignashevich pushing players out of the way so Luis Suarez could score, Senegal fans clearing up the mess in the stadium and Michy Batshuayi kicking the ball in his own face spring to mind.

All that without mentioning Maradona, that man could be a whole World Cup of highlights on his own.

The Argentina legend was at all of his country's games shown twirling a t-shirt round his head, holding up a banner that was a picture of himself, swearing at Nigeria fans, getting very passionate about the team and he even had to get checkout by medical staff after binging on wine.

Maradona was on ridiculous form throughout Argentina's four games. Image: PA Images
Maradona was on ridiculous form throughout Argentina's four games. Image: PA Images
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GERMANY WENT OUT IN THE GROUPS!!! That means that the last three winners have gone out in the Group Stage four years after winning it. Their last game loss against South Korea was both shambolic and brilliant in equal measure as Manuel Neuer lost the ball in the left back position.

Argentina went out in the second round as Kylian Mbappe ran riot and Portugal followed them on the same day meaning Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both went out within hours of each other.

Literally no better sight, until England lift the World Cup. Image: PA Images
Literally no better sight, until England lift the World Cup. Image: PA Images
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But even before the Group Stages we had England knocking six past Panama as everyone started to believe that it might actually come home. Plus the groups only saw one 0-0 as France and Denmark were booed off in their final game before the knockouts.

Hosts Russia shocked everyone by beating Spain on penalties before losing out on the spot kicks to Croatia who became the master of them after also defeating the Danes in the same way.

That second round game saw Danijel Subasic and Kasper Schmeichel save six penalties between them.

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And talking of second round games going to penalties...ENGLAND WON A SHOOTOUT! Eric Dier put to bed 37 years of hurt as the Three Lions finally won a match from 12 yards out, glorious glorious scenes.

Belgium and Japan played out a serious classic as Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini, of all people, inspired a comeback from 2-0 down to grab a last minute winner.

For fans of the own goal, and let's be honest we all are, this was the World Cup of them and the record was broken with 12 people putting the ball past their own keeper. That list includes Mario Mandzukic becoming the first man to score one in a World Cup final.

Mandzukic puts France ahead in the World Cup final. Image: PA Images
Mandzukic puts France ahead in the World Cup final. Image: PA Images

VAR might not be perfect but it generally did a bloody good job and it was part of the reason there were 29 penalties given during the tournament with Harry Kane and Antoine Griezmann both putting away three.

The video refereeing did add to the excitement of things and it took away none of the controversy and didn't really take that much longer than things normally do. And wasn't it great to see the full kit wanker refs running it?

Wait, I'd almost forgotten 45 year old Essam El-Hadary, who became the oldest player at a World Cup, saved a penalty in his one appearance in the tournament and that's bloody impressive!

El-Hadary is engulfed by Egypt players after his penalty save. Image: PA Images
El-Hadary is engulfed by Egypt players after his penalty save. Image: PA Images

I'm sure there's other stuff I've forgotten too.

Then there was the final. Finals can so often be uninspiring, the previous two World Cup finals were both decided by one goal and both in extra time, but this one had it all.

Six goals, a contentious penalty, some brilliant goals from Ivan Perisic, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, an own goal, a hilarious mistake from Hugo Lloris and Pogba dabbing with the World Cup trophy as the rain came down.

France celebrate winning the World Cup. Image: PA Images
France celebrate winning the World Cup. Image: PA Images

Russia 2018 you really did capture our hearts and minds, even if football didn't come home, and I don't even want to begin thinking loving another World Cup ever again, or at least not until the Euros is over in two years...

Topics: Football News, Russia 2018, Croatia, World Cup news, Kylian Mbappe, Gareth Southgate, World Cup, France, Russia, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane

Ryan Sidle
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