So yes world cup is here (and yes I am talking about FOOTBALL/SOCCER for Americans) and it is almost going to end. I have never been a big football fan. On the contrary I am a sleeping Giant who wakes up every 4 years to watch the world cup/European Championships and then goes to sleep waiting for the next cycle. I don’t know much about football besides the big names, the clubs and who won, who lost. But I am a crazy big fan of world cup when players are actually playing for their country. Is it the greatest game in the world for me? Absolutely not. People can cheat and get away with it. There is not much sportsmanship to see nowadays. It is all about winning. This world cup proved that again and again. Neymar, Pepe, etc and even Mbappe dived whenever they had the chance to just get their country over the line. So for me it’s not a gentleman’s game. Tennis for me is the game which is actually amazing to watch and is a played in true spirit. But nevertheless I love football in its own way. And this world cup has only increased my love for this sport.
You might be thinking why I am talking about football and sports in a blog which is about love and breakup. First because I can and second because right now football gives me amazing feelings of joy and happiness and disappointments and sorrow and that is part of me more than me breaking up with a crazy woman.
Personally I supported France from the beginning and they are now in the finals. I built a software which would select teams based on their attack, defence, their usual go to formation, their last few performances, the clubs their players are playing for and their performance in those clubs (goals, assists, number of passes) and other such factors. Since this software is static, and not dynamic and changing as the tour progresses it won’t be accurate. It is not possible anyway to predict everything. But it did predict many things including France winning, Brazil going out in Quarters by Belgium, most group toppers and some upsets by smaller countries like Iran. Of course many can predict this without using any software but me being a soccer virgin, for me it was nice to see it work to some extent which was the main purpose. I also got things wrong with Germany and Spain but who didn’t.
Anyway moving on. This world cup has been amazing. Not only did it cause some major upsets, but no clear winner emerged up to a certain point (France for me was winner from the beginning because of software but when they defeated Argentina it convinced me that they also can attack instead of just defending heavily like a Knight). It was a very competitive world cup and I was happy to see small non popular football nations like Korea, Japan, Croatia, Iran, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Sweden just to name a few performing and giving everything they have. Croatia has been particularly impressive with their never to give up attitude and running fiercely with their dear life clutched. Another impressive display has been from Sweden who not only topped the group but just went through the Mexican line up like they were some kind of butter.
Why France? I still remember the 2014 world cup when Germany became champions. The same Germany which destroyed Portugal, Brazil to name a few. This team looked like a well-oiled and polished Porsche Car, the parts of which worked together in such a rhythm and co-ordination that nothing could stop it. I was and I am a German football follower but not a fan. I think I am not a fan of nobody but I do have immense respect and admiration for Manuel Neuer, Messi and Griezmann. My favourite club is Bayern München. So obviously I was rooting for them. They won it. They looked ruthless and nobody could have stopped them. Then came EURO 2016. The team which won the world cup, was still retained except one or two left.
And then I saw France causing panic in this team. Antoine Griezmann broke the defense of Manuel Neuer, who I thought can stop the ball even with his balls. And then his cool dance after scoring. That was impressive. Germany according to me after EURO 16 looked vulnerable and weak and I found less drive and motivation in them. Also before the start of 2018 world cup, there was no organisation and compact team play, which I saw in them in 2014. I decided to support France. The likes of Paul Pogba, Lloris, Umtiti, NGolo Kante got introduced to me from EURO 16. I loved their attitude and their style of play. They lost eventually but had a lasting impression on me.
And now along with these few there is Mbappe. He is like the Usain Bolt of Football mixed with Ronaldinho like quick reflexes and thinking. But for me the most impressive player of this whole world cup has been NGolo Kante and Luka Modric. Kante is like a solid but flexible wall around whom nobody can pass through. He is a defender yet can cover a lot of field in a short amount of time. He has been amazing until now as far as I can see. And then there is Modric. He can attack, he can pass and build possessions, he can snatch the ball from you, and he can defend. He has been a treat to watch and a complete player for me.
The best match undoubtedly has been Belgium vs Japan and also Russia vs Croatia. I will rate both equally. Belgium being 2 down and scoring 3 goals in the span of 30 min to take the game away from Japan. And then there is Russia vs Croatia which was a roller coaster ride and Russia won my heart. The player who has won my heart has been Philippe Coutinho. A humble, down to earth yet amazingly talented Brazilian player who according to me is a better and bigger star than Neymar and quite underrated.
Overall an amazing world cup. This world cup has also helped me to kill some time since I have become a bit saturated with internet and television and spending most of my time being at home , not meeting people or looking at some new faces. But I wonder what I will do next once the whistle blows on Sunday and France are crowned the winner of the 2018 world cup (I am not underestimating Croatia but I am just confident about French team).