The most recent World Cup may be just a distant memory now, but what a Summer it was (especially if you are an England fan). Going into the tournament there was plenty of uncertainty as to just how exactly things would pan out in Russia.
There were countless scaremongering stories about how hooligans were going to roam the streets while attacking fans an generally not making the likes of Moscow or St Petersburg a nice place to visit. However, that could not have been any further from the case.
Whether you believe the reports that Vladimir Putin had a discreet word with some of Russia most toughest fans and told them that they were persona non grata during the World Cup and they were advised to perhaps take a ‘holiday’ for four weeks is up to you.
However as fans we can all be thankful that the headlines in Russia were made on the pitch rather than off it, especially as thanks to the excellent football on display it was arguably the greatest World Cup that has even taken place.
To the victor goes the spoils and that is an accolade that was earned by the French national team after their 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. Now before the start of the of the tournament if you suggested those two teams to be playing in the showpiece event then you would have been either a very brave or clever person.
Then again maybe that just shows that football is approaching something of a new world order, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi did little to light up the world’s biggest stage as Argentina and Portugal only reached the last 16.
Perhaps there is a new king as Kylian Mbappe led France to victory, we could very well be seeing the prodigious talent lay claim to being the best in the world. Not only that though when you consider just how young he is, then he may well rule the roost for another decade or so.
It was a tournament that saw Germany dumped out of the group stages, a prospect that absolutely no-one would have imagined going into the tournament especially as they were consider favourites to win back to back editions of the competitions by many bookmakers.
While Spain’s hopes of winning were shattered by the fact that their was a managerial change right on the eve of the competition. Julen Lopetegui made the grave mistake of announcing the fact that he was going to be managing Real Madrid come the start of the new club season.
A decision that shocked many including Spanish F.A., so perturbed with this announcement that they decide that Lopetegui’s services were not needed after all as he was sacked with just a couple of days remaining before the tournament kicked off in earnest.
Spain would eventually be dumped out in the Round of 16 as they lost out on penalties to hosts Russia, who in turn would go on to see their fate decided in the next stage when they lost to runners up Croatia with the lottery of penalties going against them this time around.
And what of England, well what a Summer it was. One that truly saw a nation come together, not since 1990 had the Three Lions got that far in a World Cup and who knows when they will do so again. That said, the future does look incredibly bright under manager Gareth Southgate.
It may have taken some time to mould such a young squad together and play in the style that the former Crystal Palace defender would have wanted, but it is fair to say that England were certainly repeating the benefits of the system over the course of the Summer.
Admittedly they may not have had to deal with the most difficult opposition, but at the same time you can only beat what is in front of you and with the exception of the Semi-final against Croatia where they lost by two goals to one, that is exactly what they did.
And if there is nothing else to take away from England’s performances in Russia then at least they finally broke their penalty shoot-out jinx after getting the better of Colombia in the Round of 16. Jordan Pickford and Eric Dier, we salute you.
And what better way to revive the memories then by looking at this fantastic infograph made by the team behind BettingSites – they’ve crunched all the numbers and offered some top line stats from each of the nations that made the World Cup Round of 16 and what better place to host it than Real Football Data.
I am always available for any football data projects you may have and/or content creation.
If you have any requirements then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Football Data”
I am also available via twitter at @dantracey1983 – again feel free to get in touch to discuss any work. Thanks, Dan