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World Cup 2018: Best Moments

- 09:07, 16th July 2018
Paul Pogba celebrates by dabbing with the World Cup after FDrance beat Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow.

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As the curtain falls on yet another World Cup, there is no better time to reflect on the past four weeks of action. There have been highs, lows and plenty of goals but which moments in the 2018 World Cup stand out?

Jonathon Hague presentes the Easyodds World Cup Award 2018. Do you agree with his picks?

Best Player

Luka Modric

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Luka Modric has been one of the best players in the World for a good four years now, but this World Cup really showcased to the World that he is the beating heart in the centre for the Croatian team, as well as his Real Madrid side. His partnership with Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic was key throughout this tournament to unlocking defences and creating some cutting-edge passes. His service has really benefitted the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic in the opposition’s box.

Not only that, Modric has netted himself a couple of goals along the way but his shining moment has to be his beautiful goal from outside the box against Argentina in the group stages which was the Real Madrid midfielder’s moment whereby he announced to the World that this was his competition.

Runners up include Belgium’s Eden Hazard who has tormented defences in all stages of the competition, France’ Raphel Varane who might have announced himself as the best centre back in the World at just 25 years old and Kylian Mbappe who really stepped in the

Best Goal

Benjamin Pavard v Argentina

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We have had a few stunners in this competition that will no doubt be in highlights reels and Top World Cup moments presented by Olly Murs for years to come. None will beat France’s Benjamin Pavard’s spinning strike in their round of 16 match against Argentina. The Stuttgart defender struck the ball with such vigour with the outside of his right foot to give the ball a huge amount of side spin rocketing it into the top corner.

A close second is what appeared to be a huge goal at the time, Toni Kroos’ free kick in the dying seconds against Sweden. If that goal hadn’t gone in, Germany would have been out of the competition by the second game. With hindsight the goal meant very little, but with content behind in the Real Madrid midfielder held his nerves to pull off a sweetly struck goal.

Overachievers

Croatia

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With growing divisions between country and FA and the fact that a number of players could be put on trial for purjury, including star man Luka Modric, the fact that Croatia made it past the Group stages is an achievement in itself, let alone a World Cup final.

Croatia might always be dark horses, but with the field opening up and the gaining the luck of the draw, Croatia have managed to put themselves in a position they have never entered before.

Russia must be a second in this respect. The host country blew away expectations that they might have an embarrassing tournament by reaching the quarter-finals, only to be knocked out by penalties to Croatia after beating 2010 Champions Spain in the previous round on penalties.

Biggest Flop

Robert Lewandowski

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Poland were drawn into a relatively balanced group with a very strong chance of reaching the knockout stages, but as the tournament progressed, the Polish side looked tired, out of ideas and lacking any kind of star quality.

Poland are an aging team with a new generation of players coming through who aren't at the heights of Robert Lewandowski and co, but the Bayern Munich man's performances were unable to inspire. Lewandowski is one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe yet he was unable to muster up a goal in three Group games against, on paper, mediocre opposition. Many has Lewandowski down as a Golden Boot contenter after 16 goals in qualifying, but the Polish striker look unengaged and lacked any kind of quality in the final third.

Underachievers

Germany

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Germany leaving in the Group stage was the biggest shock to come out of this World Cup, along with England winning a penalty shootout of course. The Germans have never gone out at this stage in their history and the usual Germanic efficiency was stalling in all three matches as they scored just three goals in three games.

Germany looked out of ideas, tactically all over the place and lacking motivation. Die Mannschaft became the third straight World Cup winners to exit the Group stage of the competition which means France must be cautious in their preparations for Qatar 2022.

Surprise Package

Russia

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Russia stunned the World when they knocked out 2010 Champions and third favourites, Spain, out of the competition in a penalty shutout. Pre-tournament expectations for the host were bleak as local press were expecting an embarrassment, but instead a local crowd and an underdog attitude helped propel the Russians to the quarter-finals where a penalty shootout was needed by eventual finalists, Croatia, to eliminate the hosts.

Other surprises include a difficult Iran side who were a couple of yards away from eliminating Portugal in the Group stages, Sweden who against the odds reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994, and England who reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

Best moment

Iran’s Acrobatic Throw Taker v Spain

You are three five minutes from the end of your group game against Spain and one goal could see you draw with the 2010 Champions giving you the advantage against Portugal going into the final group game. What do you do? You perform a somersault before you take your thrown in of course!

Iran’s Milad Mohammadi wrote himself into World Cup folklore by attempting a somersault throw in before just minutes before the end of the game as Iran looked on top and most likely to score the next goal.

Not only was it ridiculous, but the player failed to throw the ball after he somersaulted. A truly magical moment in football history.

Best Match

Portugal v Spain

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It might have only been the third match into the tournament, but if this game was a final it would have been classed as a classic. Not only was great tactical football showcased, but some of the goals I this game were stunners. Spain’s dominant midfield trio of Silva, Iniesta and Isco coupled with Nacho’s wonderous goal in the second half weren’t enough to stop Cristiano Ronaldo have his moment to shine. The now Juventus player stepped up to deliver a rocket of a free kick in the 88th minute to equalise the game at 3-3.

Round of 16 matches, France v Argentina and Japan v Belgium provided plenty of entertainment but in Portugal v Spain you saw two sides at their top of their game.

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