World Cup Tops and Flops


July 16, 2018
Referee Mark Geiger from the US watches the Video Assistant Referee system
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Brazil's Neymar
Referee Mark Geiger
Germany's Thomas Mueller


Kylian Mbappe

France's 19 year-old jolt of excitement was a joy to watch throughout the tournament. His confidence, speed and skill made him a constant threat for opposing defenders and with his electric performances on the field, which saw him bag four goal in the tournament - including one sublime finish in the final, there's no wonder he's being heralded as the world's next big megastar.

Luca Modric

He wasn't been able to help his team to a win in the final, but Croatian wizard Luca Modric will leave Russia as the overwhelming choice of being the tournament's best and most consistent player. The midfield puppeteer was the conductor behind just about everything coming through the Balkans' engine room and delighted fans with his guile and metronome-esque influence on his team's march to the final.

Didier Deschamps

The France coach was heavily criticised back home for the way his team has played at times throughout his tenure. All the complaints will disappear after his masterful guidance to the World Cup title. Deschamps, who also lifted the title as a France player in 1998 became only the third man to win the title as a player and as a coach.


The Virtual Assistant Referee system was introduced to much skepticism by fans and even players alike. All in all, it can be said that the system proved its worth over the past month and has gained for itself a lot more support across the footballing landscape.


It's not seen as the most welcoming country and it certainly had its fair share of issues leading up to the tournament, but the host nation can be proud of its seamless staging of the world's biggest sporting event.



Russia 2018 was supposed to be the Brazilian star's coronation as the man to take the reigns when the Ronaldo-Messi era is finished. Instead, the PSG man left Russia as the laughing stock of the world due to his perceived penchant for simulation. It didn't help that he wasn't able to lead pre-tournament favourites Brazil to the title.

Lionel Messi

Seen by many as the world's greatest player, Lionel Messi was front and centre in an embarrassing campaign by Argentina and he will continue to carry the stain of never leading his country to a senior title, after some uninspiring performances in Russia. His team-mates and especially his coach Jorge Sampaoli are equally culpable.

Mark Geiger

The standard of officiating in Russia has been pretty good to be honest but there was at least one referee, who received widespread criticism for his performance at the tournament. American Mark Geiger was blasted in several quarters for his handling of the Colombia-England Round of 16 game and was accused of asking a Portugal player for his jersey. This has been denied by both Geiger and FIFA.

African Teams

Seems the good African players were all playing for France. For the first time since 1982, no African team made it beyond the group stage. Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco all have big players and even played well at times, but only won three matches between them.


Like Spain before them, the defending champions fell at the first hurdle. Defeats to Mexico and South Korea meant the Germans ended at the foot of their group and failed to advance for the first time in 80 years.

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