It was a spectacle that lived up to its spot in history as a world cup final. The energy of the roaring and rambunctious assembly of French and Croatian supporters was infectious. The FIFA World Cup Final, coming just a day after the French Bastille Day was played at a ferocious and breathtaking pace between the two squads at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The balmy weather unexpectedly turned hostile and there was a thunderous downpour, but nothing could dampen the spirits of either the players or their frenzied supporters.
In this riveting finale Croatia had maximal ball possession, at nearly 60%, but failed to scale the summit and France went on to lift the coveted cup. It faintly appeared that the elements too danced in ecstasy as France roasted the hapless Croatia 4-2 with clinical precision and lightning speed. Swathes of Les Bleus draped the stadium and for the next few hours the colour blue enveloped planet earth.
The date was 30 July and the year 1930. Uruguay handed out a similar scoreline defeat of 4-2 to Argentina and won the Jules Rimmet trophy. This prized trophy was won by soccer maniacal nations till 1970. From 1974 onwards the present 6kg edition is under contention among football-playing nations.
The FIFA World Cup trophy has had a chequered history. Italian craftsman Silvio Gazzaniga had designed the present trophy for the 1974 World Cup tournament. The original trophy was made of 18 carat gold and is currently housed in the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich. The winning team now receive a gold-plated bronze replica.
France won the coveted cup- made in Paderno Dugnano, near Milan, by GDE Bertoni- for the second time in World Cup history. The win came after a hiatus of 20 years when Didier Deschamps and his team had raised the cup in 1998.
As coach and manager of the winning French team, Deschamps has joined two illustrious players in Franz Beckenbauer of Germany and Mario Zagallo of Brazil to win the trophy both as player and manager.
Some interesting highlights of the final match included an own goal by Mandzukic of Croatia, Antigone Griezmann of France scoring a spot kick after a VAR review, while Pogba and Mbappe delivered deadly blows on the ill-starred Croatians.
Perisic who scored the goal for Croatia was to commit the folly of handling the ball and so ended up handing a penalty kick to the opponents; a costly error as it gave the French team a psychologically significant 2-0 lead at that point. Both had an element of luck to the. While, the Mandzukic deflection resulting in an own goal was an early setback, the Argentine referee's interpretation of handball, which led to the penalty kick for France, came in for a fair bit of criticism for its subjectivity. Later, Mandzukic of Croatia took advantage of an unexpected error by captain goalkeeper Lloris of France.
Also awarded by the organisers for their sterling performance on the field were Modric (best player), Mbappe,who bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Pele (best young player), Courtois (best goal keeper). Harry Kane (likened to a hurricane for his robust performance) was awarded the prestigious Golden Boot.
This was the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial association of the football tournament which is combated by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA.
The finale of the tournament, where fancied teams like Germany, Argentina, Portugal, Uruguay and Spain fell by the wayside in the jostle for the top spot, was the final match; a contest of unquestionable skill and surely the toast of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This contest which assumed contours of a French blitzkrieg on the occasion will remain in the alcoves of the minds of discerning spectators. France had last qualified for the final way back in in 2006 under the charismatic Zinedine Zidane, while Croatia were slugging it out in their very first World Cup final.
Quite astonishingly both the finalists had vanquished former World Cup champions on their road to the final match. The multiracial French team, exploding with talent overcame two time winners Uruguay while Croatia subjugated 1966 winners, England. Not to forget the fact that both the teams demonstrated their supremacy over the iconic Lionel Messi’s Argentinean squad.
On their pathway to the final match, Croatia became the third Eastern European nation to reach the World Cup final, and the first since Czechoslovakia lost the final in 1962 to the eventual winners Brazil.
In the reverie of triumph which France will positively cherish and carouse in for several days, the country automatically earned the right to compete for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Four years down the lane in 2022, member countries of FIFA would be ready for yet another carnival, yet another slugfest at Qatar, where players would display their skills and soccer lovers from across the globe would be waiting with bated breath. This tournament is undoubtedly the piece-de- resistance of the sporting world.