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Kane crowned King, Mina the PPG VIP – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Kane held off Griezmann’s late charge to become the champion player
  • Mina averaged almost four points per game more than anyone else
  • Coutinho, Quintero and Ronaldo made the points-per-game XI

The distinctions keep coming for Harry Kane. As well as winning the adidas Golden Boot, the England No9 has been crowned the McDonald’s FIFA World Cup™ champion player after withstanding a fast-finishing Frenchman. Antoine Griezmann outscored Kane 20-6 over the last three rounds, but fell two points shy of matching him.

Raphael Varane edged Yerry Mina and Andreas Granqvist to finish as the highest-scoring defender, while Thibaut Courtois was the top goalkeeper and Philippe Coutinho and Luka Modric were the joint-best midfielders.

Mina, meanwhile, averaged an extraordinary 10.7 points per game – almost four points more than his nearest rival, Kasper Schmeichel.

Fantasy Teams of the Tournament

Overall XI: Thibaut Courtois; Andreas Granqvist, Yerry Mina, Thiago Silva, Raphael Varane; Denis Cheryshev, Philippe Coutinho, Luka Modric; Antoine Griezmann, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane.

Points-per-game XI: Kasper Schmeichel; Jose Gimenez, Andreas Granqvist, Yerry Mina, Thiago Silva; Denis Cheryshev, Philippe Coutinho, Juan Quintero; Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Wahbi Khazri.

Overall: Top 30 Players

1st. Harry Kane (40 points / 6.7 points per game)
2nd. Antoine Griezmann (38 / 5.4)
3rd. Raphael Varane (34 / 4.9)
4th. Yerry Mina (32 / 10.7)
4th. Andreas Granqvist (32 / 6.4)
6th. Eden Hazard (31 / 5.2)
6th. Thibaut Courtois (31 / 4.3)
8th. Romelu Lukaku (30 / 5.0)
9th. Kylian Mbappe (29 / 4.1)
9th. Ivan Perisic (29 / 4.1)

11th. Philippe Coutinho (28 / 5.6)
11th. Luka Modric (28 / 4.0)
13th. Artem Dzyuba (27 / 5.4)
13th. Thiago Silva (27 / 5.4)
13th. Samuel Umtiti (27 / 4.5)
13th. Denis Cheryshev (27 / 5.4)
13th. Kieran Trippier (27 / 4.5)
13th. Kasper Schmeichel (27 / 6.8)
13th. Lucas Hernandez (27 / 3.9)
13th. Benjamin Pavard (27 / 4.5)

21st. Thomas Meunier (26 / 5.2)
21st. John Stones (26 / 3.7)
21st. Ludwig Augustinsson (26 / 5.2)
24th. Mario Mandzukic (25 / 4.2)
24th. Domagoj Vida (25 / 4.2)
26th. Cristiano Ronaldo (24 / 6.0)
26th. Kevin De Bruyne (24 / 4.0)
26th. Hugo Lloris (24 / 4.0)
26th. Fernando Muslera (24 / 4.8)
30th. Robin Olsen (23 / 4.6)

Overall: Points Per Game

Yerry Mina (10.7)
Kasper Schmeichel (6.8)
Harry Kane (6.7)
Wahbi Khazri (6.7)
Andreas Granqvist (6.4)
Cristiano Ronaldo (6.0)
Ali Beiranvand (5.7)
Philippe Coutinho (5.6)
Denis Cheryshev (5.4)
Artem Dzyuba (5.4)
Antoine Griezmann (5.4)
Thiago Silva (5.4)
Jose Gimenez (5.3)
Ludwig Augustinsson (5.2)
Eden Hazard (5.2)
Thomas Meunier (5.2)
Romelu Lukaku (5.0)
Edinson Cavani (5.0)
Diego Costa (5.0)
Juan Quintero (5.0)
Mile Jedinak (5.0)
* Minimum three appearances

Top 5 in Profile

Harry Kane
40 points
6.7 points per game
Appearances: 6
Goals: 6
Assists: 0
Penalties won: 2
Highest-scoring performance: 16 points v Panama

Antoine Griezmann
38 points
5.4 points per game
Appearances: 7
Goals: 4
Assists: 2
Penalties won: 1
Highest-scoring performance: 9 points v Uruguay

Raphael Varane
34 points
4.9 points per game
Appearances: 7
Goals: 4
Assists: 2
Highest-scoring performance: 12 points v Uruguay

Yerry Mina
32 points
10.7 points per game
Appearances: 3
Goals: 3
Assists: 0
Clean sheets: 2
Highest-scoring performance: 12 points v Poland & v Senegal

Andreas Granqvist
32 points
6.4 points per game
Appearances: 5
Goals: 2
Assists: 0
Clean sheets: 3
Highest-scoring performance: 12 points v Korea Republic & v Mexico

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Repeating patterns and curses lifted – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • ​Once again champions left the World Cup early
  • Mexico and Nigeria frustrations persisted
  • England ended long-running jinx

You will struggle to find anyone who believes the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ was predictable. Big names tumbling early, unlikely runs to the latter stages and a few major upsets made sure of that.

But, in many ways it exactly was that: predictable. Let us guide you through a few of the surprising World Cup trends that just insist on sticking which played out during 31 days of excitement.

However, some well-worn patterns finally came to an end, much to the relief of two teams.

Repeated history

Early departures for European holders

It almost seems unbelievable, but Germany’s ‘premature’ exit in Russia – if recent history is to be believed – wasn’t so extraordinary after all. Ever since the turn of the millennium, no returning champion from Europe has made it past the group stages.

Once is a surprise, twice is a shock, but four times? Twenty years ago it would have been impossible to fathom. France (winners in 1998), Italy (2006), Spain (2010) and Germany (2014) have seen their title defence come crashing down around them at the first test.

Argentina haunt Nigeria again

Seeing La Albiceleste and the Super Eagles drawn in the same group back in December will no doubt have had some happy memories come gushing back in Buenos Aires. As of late this has become quite the tradition. Ever since the West Africans made their first visit to the World Cup at USA 1994, only one of their six tournaments hasn’t featured an encounter with the men in blue and white – each time ending in defeat.

What’s more, every meeting his been decided by just a solitary goal. With Nigeria not having been ahead since their very first meeting in 1994, this year’s 2-1 defeat added an extra layer of repetitive pain, as Marcos Rojo scored the winner for the second successive World Cup.

Mexico’s fourth-hurdle falter

Looking at El Tri’s recent record at the World Cup presents a mix of the enviable and the maddening. Since qualifying for USA 1994, only six other nations have a longer streak of tournament appearances in history, with Russia 2018 taking it to seven in a row. On top of that, only Brazil are currently on a better run of escaping the group stages, with Mexico making it out every time.

However, that is always where their journey ends. The frustration continued at the hands of A Seleção this year in Samara, as a 2-0 defeat meant the fifth game will remain beyond them for at least four more years.

South Americans suffer in Europe

The elimination of Brazil and Uruguay in the quarter-finals confirmed it would be another fruitless trip to Europe for South American sides. It’s now 60 years since their last World Cup triumph on the old continent. Find out more in our Visual Story.

See also

Russia 2018 Visual Stories

Curses ended

Croatia catch a knockout break

The pressure to live up to the heroic team of 1998 has sometimes hung heavy on the shoulders of the Croatian national team. While World Cups have offered slim pickings since, having failed to escape the group stages, twice at the European Championships they slipped at the chance to win a knockout match.

With their struggles threatening to become a full-blown complex, particularly for their midfield talismans Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who both missed penalties in a 2008 shoot-out defeat against Turkey, beating Denmark by the same means was a cathartic release. Even more so following Modric’s penalty miss seconds from the end of extra time.

England finally pass spot-check

Speaking of catharsis, coach Gareth Southgate’s emotional demons looked to depart in a triumphant roar after England won their own shoot-out against Colombia in the last 16. Having lost all three of their previous 12-yard duels at World Cups, and won just one of six at major championships, it was a widely-held belief: England don’t do penalties.

Southgate famously missed a crucial one himself in the UEFA EURO 1996 semi-final, so there were few happier than him when Eric Dier struck the winner to buck that persistent trend.

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Hallgrimsson steps down as Iceland coach – FIFA on GBP Sports

Heimir Hallgrimsson has left his role as head coach of the Iceland national team after spending seven years in the position. 

Hallgrimsson led Iceland, alongside Swedish coach Lars Lagerback, to their first UEFA EURO in 2016, where they finished as quarter-finalists, before solely guiding the team as head coach to the nation’s first ever FIFA World Cup™ finals.

Iceland exited Russia 2018 after the group stage, but their debut at the world finals included a 1-1 opening draw with Argentina before suffering defeats by Nigeria and eventual finalists Croatia.

The Football Association of Iceland posted the following announcement:

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Cahill announces retirement from Socceroos – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Australia’s Tim Cahill retires from international football
  • Cahill is the Socceroos’ all-time leading goalscorer (50)
  • First Australian to play in four World Cups

Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer and the first player in the country’s history to take part in four FIFA World Cups™ Tim Cahill has announced his retirement from international football.

Cahill wrote the following on his official Twitter account: “Today’s the day that I’m officially hanging up my boots on my international career with the Socceroos. No words can describe what it has meant to represent my country. Massive thank you to everyone for the support throughout all my years wearing the Australian badge.”

Cahill made 107 appearances for his country, which is the second most in Australia’s history behind goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (109). His first cap was on 30 March 2004 culminating with his appearance in Australia’s 2-0 defeat by Peru at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

He is Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer with 50, and to demonstrate the legacy he leaves behind, the next top goalscorer in the country’s history finished with 29 in Damian Mori.

Cahill will forever be an Australian World Cup legend. He became the first Socceroo to score at the World Cup finals, when he helped Australia come from behind to defeat Japan 3-1 at Germany 2006.

He scored goals in three consecutive World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014). Known for his aerial ability and impressive vertical leap, it is his stunning volley, however, from the 2014 World Cup that will live longest in world football’s memory.

The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) Chairman Steven Lowy AM spoke about Cahill’s contribution to the game on the FA’s official website: “Tim Cahill is a football great in Australia. As a player and as a person he has had an enormous impact on the game. Tim’s performances on and off the pitch and his feats at FIFA World Cups and AFC Asian Cups have inspired millions across the globe, but it is in Australia, where Tim is a household name, that his influence is most profound. He has our very best wishes for whatever new challenges he takes on. We hope to continue to work with Tim to promote football in Australia.”

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Champions return home to joyous celebrations – FIFA on GBP Sports

The images went right around the world: rain pouring down from the Moscow sky as France skipper Hugo Lloris and his team-mates lifted the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy, before a deluge of golden confetti mixed in with the raindrops at the Luzhniki Stadium. It was an unforgettable moment.

Another storm was breaking over France at the same time – a storm of wild joy as car horns blared and fans poured onto the streets to sing, shout and come together as one. A whole nation was awash with happiness. From Lille to Marseille, via Lyon and Bordeaux, they gathered in their millions to celebrate the country’s second world title. And the celebrations went on into Monday.

The newspaper headlines set the tone for the day: “Eternal joy” (L’équipe); “Again!” (Libération); “We love you!” (La dépêche du midi); “Thank you!” (La voix du Nord); and “Heads in the stars” (Le Parisien). France was on a high and the party went on and on, a party the like of which had not been seen in fully 20 years.

And as was the case in the 1998 celebrations, the fans gathered in huge numbers on the Champs-Elysees to hail the triumph of Les Bleus, or the “Deschamps-Elysees” as they were renamed for the occasion, in honour of Didier Deschamps – the 1998 captain and 2018 coach, the figurehead of this all-conquering France. Tens of thousands of fans sang the obligatory “We are the champions!”. The sun shone and so did the radiant Bleus.

After touching down at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport at around 17.00, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Co received the adulation of the fans as they made a near two-hour journey to the country’s most famous avenue. The bus, the crowd and the sky were blue, and when they reached the appropriately named Arc de Triomphe, a fresh wave of elation broke over the Champs.

A long and joyous communion with the fans followed, and when it was over, the players headed to the Palais de l’Elysee for a more solemn celebration with French President Emmanuel Macron. Night was falling by this time and France’s second World Cup star was shining bright.

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Croatia return home to a heroes’ welcome – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Croatia fans welcomed home Zlatko Dalic’s side on Monday
  • Supporters lined the streets of Zagreb to greet their heroes
  • Team were received at a gathering in Zagreb’s Bana Jelacica Square

Croatia’s players and staff were greeted to a heroes’ welcome upon their arrival home in the Balkan country on Monday afternoon following their runners-up finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – their best placing at a world finals.

The Vatreni flew into Zagreb, with the team’s plane being escorted by two Croatian Mig 21 fighter planes.

After landing at the airport, Zlatko Dalic’s squad then rode on a rooftop bus and greeted supporters along the road towards the country’s capital, with the players sharing in the celebrations.

The team then greeted a large and passionate crowd of appreciative fans at a rally in Bana Jelacica Square, which is in the centre of Zagreb.​

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Reputations on the rise in Russia – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • ​Surprise stars cropped up throughout the tournament
  • Well-known names and unsung heroes raised their game in Russia
  • looks at five players who unexpectedly took the limelight

Only one team can lift the trophy. Only 23 players leave with gold around their neck. However, this does not mean they were the only winners at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

With 736 players selected, there’s always those who raise their game on the biggest stage who maybe weren’t expected to steal the limelight.

We take a look at five who stepped up to the plate over the last month.

Kieran Trippier

England, 27, wing-back

England’s run to the semi-finals was built on the back of set pieces and Trippier’s dead-ball ability was fundamental to that. Only a switch in formation back in March, where a 3-5-2 allowed both Kyle Walker and Trippier to feature, allowed the Tottenham wing-back to find his place in the side. Delivering the corner for Harry Kane’s winner against Tunisia and the sensational free-kick against Croatia in their semi-final, he was instrumental in some of the Three Lions’ most memorable moments.

Laure James with England
“Trippier’s strengths make for impressive reading. No one delivered more balls into the box than him, while his set pieces were exceptional, scoring England’s first goal from a direct free-kick since David Beckham’s against Ecuador in 2006. When you’re part of a team who have scored nine of their 12 goals from set plays, it’s a useful attribute.”

Denis Cheryshev

Russia, 27, midfielder

Arguably the only way Cheryshev’s World Cup could have been more of a dream experience were if he had stepped out on the Luzhniki pitch for the Final, 31 days after he announced himself with a sumptuously taken brace in the Opening Match. After failing to break through at Real Madrid and having suffered an injury-disrupted spell at Villarreal so far, this has been his time to shine. His strike in the quarter-final against Croatia was ample evidence of that.

Igor Borunov with Russia
“The national team has given Cheryshev the chance at redemption. Finally, luck has gone his way. Having missed the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 squad, he could have easily been omitted from the Russia 2018 squad too if Stanislav Cherchesov hadn’t switched to 4-2-3-1. Even though he started the tournament as a substitute, his arrival against Saudi Arabia was triumphant and he simply dazzled from there.”

Takashi Inui

Japan, 30, midfielder

Snapped up by Real Betis before the tournament, his signing is looking impressively shrewd as Inui drew plenty of admiring glances during Japan’s four games. A disciple of the classic Samurai Blue style of quick passing and non-stop dynamism, he shone brightly as the creative focus for the side, bringing goals, invention and unpredictability.

Hidetoshi Suzuki with Japan
“Despite his short stature, Inui showed that determination, precision and a fierce strike are all weapons in his arsenal. He dazzled against Senegal, scoring one and setting up the other as he made the Japanese midfield tick. However, his goal against Belgium will likely be what his tournament is remembered for – striking viciously to double their lead to leave the eventual bronze medallists on the ropes.”

Kasper Schmeichel

Denmark, 31, goalkeeper

While Schmeichel junior may have earned the right to step out from his father Peter’s long shadow as he superbly helped Leicester City to Premier League glory in 2016, it was rare to hear his name touted among the best keepers in the world. That may change now, leaving Russia with the best save percentage of anyone who played more than one game, stopping 91.3 per cent of the shots he faced, not to mention saving three penalties against Croatia.

Svend Frandsen with Denmark
“This World Cup did not suddenly turn Schmeichel into one of the best keepers in the world. He was when he arrived at the tournament. Denmark had gone 14 games unbeaten thanks to his services. If Schmeichel went into these championships under the radar, then it can perhaps be attributed to playing for arguably a smaller club and national team than keepers usually in the conversation. His performances at Russia 2018 should change that once and for all.”

Yerry Mina

Colombia, 23, defender

Picked up by Barcelona in January, Mina’s quality as a rugged-but-classy centre back had not gone unnoticed but, having earned just a handful of appearances, his talent was far from common knowledge. But towering performances in both boxes have profoundly changed that. Scoring in three successive games, including a dramatic equaliser against England, ensured his hulking figure will stick in the minds of many.

Alejandra Rueda with Colombia
“Mina’s superb tackling and aerial dominance gave Colombia tranquillity at the back. That strength in the air transferred into the opposition penalty area as he proved to be a nightmare for all tasked with trying to contain him. His outstanding performances simply reflected the quality that those around him knew he could produce.”

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France triumphant in ravishing Russia – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • France crowned World Cup champions for second time, Croatia claim second
  • Modric wins adidas Golden Ball, Kane takes home adidas Golden Boot
  • Bronze for Belgium, England finish fourth

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ thrilled from beginning to end. The 21st edition of the world finals also produced countless moments that will endure in the collective memory of those who love the beautiful game. From Kaliningrad to Ekaterinburg from Saint Petersburg to Sochi, there were smiles and celebrations aplenty as millions came together to enjoy what was a true festival of football. There were goals aplenty: the first and only goalless draw at Russia 2018 came after 36 matches, which was the latest for a single edition in history. 

France were crowned champions for the second time in history and for the first since they were hosts in 1998 after defeating Croatia 4-2 in what will go down as one of the most thrilling World Cup finals ever. Nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappe became the second teenager in history to score in a World Cup Final, following in the footsteps of Pele who did so as a 17-year-old in 1958. Goals and performances from midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Antoine Griezmann also proved vital in helping Les Bleus become world champions once more.

Defining moments
Giants fall in Kazan
Kazan Arena witnessed the elimination of multiple World Cup heavyweights. Holders Germany, for example, were defeated 2-0 by Korea Republic there and failed to progress from the group stage for the first time in the country’s proud World Cup history. The next giant to fall was Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Round of 16. In one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament, France – led by the exhilarating youngster Mbappe – saw off La Albiceleste 4-3. Brazil, Argentina’s long-time South American rivals, were next, as Neymar and Co were beaten by an impressive Belgium side in the quarter-finals.

Surprise packages
Some nations scaled new heights at Russia 2018. The Red Devils of Belgium had their best-ever World Cup, finishing in third and eclipsing their fourth-place finish in 1986. Roberto Martinez’s side, who finished as the top scoring team (16), were one of three sides – the others being Uruguay and Croatia – who emerged from the group stage with maximum points. Russia’s quarter-final finish was their first at that stage since the former Soviet Union did it in 1970. Sweden reached the last eight for the first time since USA 1994, while Croatia contested the country’s first ever World Cup Final.

Fans, hosts create carnival atmosphere
Throughout the various FIFA Fan Fests, the streets of all the Host Cities and beyond and of course in the stadiums themselves, the fans made this a World Cup to treasure. Those supporters came with their chants, their colours and above all, an unrelenting support for their teams, and they were met in turn by warm and welcoming locals.

Breakout stars
If there were still some football fans who were unfamiliar with Mbappe before France and Argentina’s Round of 16 tie, they certainly knew all about him by the time the final whistle sounded. The 19-year-old starred with his electrifying pace, skill and finishing ability in Les Bleus’ epic 4-3 comeback win before becoming the second teenager to score in World Cup Final history in France’s 4-2 win over Croatia. Denis Cheryshev also had a tournament he will never forget. The Russia star bagged a brace in the hosts’ 5-0 Opening Match win over Saudi Arabia, put in two Man of the Match performances and scored a brilliant goal in their quarter-final defeat at the hands of the tournament’s runners-up. Colombia’s 23-year-old defender Yerry Mina was crucial in their run to the Round of 16, showcasing his aerial prowess to score in three consecutive matches for Los Cafeteros, a feat any forward would be content with, let alone a centre-back.

Legends bid farewell
Several of the game’s greats brought an end to their World Cup stories. Javier Mascherano played his 20th and final World Cup match for Argentina, Japan’s Keisuke Honda his 11th and last game for the Samurai Blue. Scorer of the winning goal in the 2010 Final, Andres Iniesta’s last outing in a Spain jersey was in La Roja’s penalty shootout defeat by the hosts in the Round of 16. As for Mexico stalwart Rafael Marquez, he became just the third player to play in five World Cups.

VAR makes its bow
Russia 2018 was historic for many reasons, but in the field of football technology it was the dawn of a new era with the introduction and use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). History was made in France’s 2-1 win over Australia, when Griezmann scored the first penalty kick resulting from a VAR review.

Stat of the tournament
19 – There were 19 goals scored in second-half injury time at Russia 2018, setting a new World Cup record. Neymar also scored the latest ever goal at a World Cup in regular time (90’+7’) when he doubled Brazil’s lead in their 2-0 win over Costa Rica. [Editor’s note: Injury time has been codified officially since 1998]

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France revel in winning second world title – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • France are world champions for the second time
  • There were scenes of joy in the bowels of the Luzhniki Stadium
  • Les Bleus repeated the feat of two decades ago
By Adrien Gingold with France

Fresh off their triumph in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Final, the France players lingered on the pitch for several long minutes, revelling in a happy ending that will be remembered for eternity. A generation of supremely gifted players had overcome the challenge posed by an excellent Croatia side, showing their mettle to run out victorious in a game that they never had under complete control – despite scoring four goals.

They subsequently emerged shouting and singing. It was almost as if they were not quite sure how to express so much joy in one go. Yet, as Benjamin Pavard explained, “The party is only getting started. This is just the beginning: we’re going to savour this win for four years!”

As messages flooded in from their loved ones, the heroes got a glimpse of the scenes of joy that were playing out across France. They were beside themselves. “What? Am I mad? I must be mad! I scored in the Final!” said an incredulous Paul Pogba. Les Bleus congratulated each other, stripped down, cavorted around in nothing but underwear and then got dressed again. The torrential rain during the closing ceremony added an extra touch of charm and mystique to an occasion that no one seemed prepared for.

No one except coach Didier Deschamps, whose words always hit the mark: “This is amazing, it’s the pinnacle: France are on top of the world! It’s really fantastic. Kudos to the team and my staff. We’ve spent 55 days working hard together.” After becoming just the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach, following in the footsteps of Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer, even Deschamps struggled to keep a lid on his emotions: “I’m thrilled to see my players so happy. They did it and I’m proud of them.”

The coach headed off for his press conference, only for the squad to ambush him and douse him with beer and champagne. In this moment of collective euphoria, they released all the pent-up stress and tension from the past month and a half, in which they have lived and worked together as one.

This togetherness has been rewarded. Unlike in 1998, this group of France players are well aware of the impact a World Cup conquest can have, having seen for themselves the life-changing effect of their predecessors’ victory. Twenty years on, they know that they have written their own names in history on a date, 15 July 2018, that will not be forgotten.

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Griezmann: I’ll be the first to buy the jersey with the two stars – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Griezmann instrumental in France’s World Cup win
  • Les Bleus’ front man named Budweiser Man of the Match in Final
  • He made a decisive contribution in all of their knockout matches
By Adrien Gingold with France

Not for the first time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Antoine Griezmann was France’s saviour in Sunday’s Final against Croatia. We spoke afterwards to the Budweiser Man of the Match, a newly-crowned World Cup champion.

“After a match like that it doesn’t really sink in,” said a beaming Griezmann, who could barely contain himself. “Believe me though: I’ll be the first to buy the jersey with the two stars.” 

After emerging from the dressing room singing and dancing with Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, he somehow managed to collect his thoughts. “Sorry, but we’re so happy. We feel so proud, and we just want one thing: to go and celebrate this with the people of France.”

France’s joint-leading goalscorer of the competition with Mbappe, Griezmann once again played an influential role as they saw off Croatia. Not afraid to take responsibility, he set Les Bleus on the road to victory again, just as he had done in scoring a penalty against Argentina, and in flighting pinpoint free-kicks on to the heads of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti as France saw off Uruguay and Belgium respectively. 

He was at it again in the Final, first sending in the free-kick from which Mario Mandzukic inadvertently glanced the ball into his own net, and then scoring from the penalty spot. Reflecting on the game, he said: “I love matches like this. It’s win or you’re out. That’s when I’m at my most confident and when I feel the best. I’m delighted I was able to show that again tonight.”

With four goals in all at Russia 2018, he is France’s second highest scorer at a single World Cup after Just Fontaine, who struck an incredible 13 goals at Sweden 1958. It came as news to Griezmann: “I honestly didn’t know that. I know it sounds like a cliche, but the team comes before all else. Today we became world champions together, and we’d be nothing without the team.”

Giving his opinion amid the French euphoria, Lucas Hernandez had this to say about his Atletico Madrid team-mate, a player he is very close to and whom he describes as his big brother: “He’s one of the best players in the world and I love him to bits. He’s helped me tremendously and I sincerely wish him every happiness in the world.”

At this moment in time, that happiness takes the form of the World Cup Trophy and the adidas Bronze Ball Award. Having the final word and wearing a broad grin, the hero of the hour exclaimed a few simple words that now sum up what has become a glorious international career: “Vive la republique et vive la France!

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