In the next part of our FIFA World Cup series, we have the moments to remember from the 2018 World Cup. The Russian summer was one to remember with electrifying football blessing us in a month-long extravaganza. Fans from across the world flocked in large numbers to the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, among 9 other venues to host a total of 64 World Cup matches. The host cities were magnificently decorated, and along with the national team's brilliant journey in the tournament, the Land of Rus was buzzing aplenty. Along with some shocking defeats, heart-breaking exits, and beautiful football on display – the tournament defined what the game is all about. Let's take a look at our Top 5 moment:
Starting off our list is a truly heart-warming moment. Japan had seen the heartbreak of their footballing history when a 2-0 lead in the 70th minute was overturned by a world-beating Belgian side. Even in their disappointment, the Japanese fans made it a point to clean the stadium after themselves. The national team took it a step ahead and left their dressing room polished with a "Thank You" note in Russia. In their small stay, their goodness remains as a remained to accept hardships with grace, especially in these troubling times.
Next, we go on to our Number 4 – the moment that went on to become Maradona's version of "Wakanda Forever." The match at hand is Argentina's group stage encounter against Nigeria, which ended up being the White and Blues' only victory of the World Cup. Inspiring this moment was an incredible Lionel Messi goal – one of the best of the tournament. This sent the Argentine legend into pure ecstasy, who threatened to climb the glass railing in front of him before being held back by his friends. Next, he channeled what could best be called a salute to the divine for his intervention. A moment we can never forget, but unfortunately for Messi and Co., their only good memory from Russia.
At Number 3, we have the encounter that brought together fans from across the world in South America and Asia. We are talking about the group stage encounter between South Korea and Germany. Another contender in the group, Mexico, was at risk of bowing out early despite 2 wins to start the World Cup. They needed their South Korean counterparts to secure a draw, at the least. Son and Co. didn't disappoint, striking late twice to seal a win and sending the defending champions home. The scenes after the match witnessed Mexican fans embracing and holding aloft any South Korean fans they encountered. A commentator remarked that anyone on that Korean team would get honorary citizenships in the South American nation for their massive favor.
For the runners' up of our list at Number 2 but the winners of the 2018 World Cup – we have France's final showdown against Croatia. With more than half the world's population glued to proceedings at Luzhniki Stadium, Les Bleus' stole a thrilling 4-2 win in a match worthy of its' status. In the winning moments, an exhilarated French President, Emmanuel Macron, leaped onto the desk in front of him, and his Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. The most important man in France, at that moment, was like any other French fan – overjoyed at the sight of his nation lifting the most coveted trophy after a long 20-year wait. An intensely divided French nation put their trust in Macron. Les Bleus' had brought the French people together once again.
Taking our Number 1 position is the Round of 16 tie between Russia and Spain. However, it's the moments after - what it meant for the 1.4 billion Russian people sparsely distributed in a land bigger than China. Let's take a look back for once. Russia had a chance to overhaul its image in the eyes of the world at large. In one of the match venues, one Russian fan told an Economic Times reporter, "This is World Cup Russia, not real Russia." World Cup Russia was truly magical. Many visiting fans from countries all over would describe the tournament as one of the best organized. This, along with the national team's record-breaking run at the biggest stage of it all, saw the entire Russian continent in an electrified atmosphere throughout its' course. The lowest-ranked side to enter the World Cup beat former champions Spain 4-3 on penalties in a lion-hearted performance, after the match ended even at 1-1 after Extra Time. This sent the Russians into a frenzy and saw streets to cities, big and small, turned into party spots overnight. Russia eventually went out to finalists Croatia in a closely fought penalty shootout – but as they say, hearts had already been won.