THE WORLD CUP DRAMA AND TEARS
07
France's title victory at the 2018 World Cup was achieved with
a confident swagger and only a modicum of drama.
But that certainly wasn't the case with some of the other participants. Stanislav Minin paints a picture of some
of the tournament's most memorably dramatic moments.
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team: Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. The former had already been a hero and villain at previous World Cups. He "saved" his team from conceding a late winner with that infamous handball in the quarter-finals against Ghana in 2010. Even more notoriously, he bit the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. Now, it's Cavani's turn to steal the limelight but in a far more laudable way.

It is the round of 16 in Russia, Uruguay versus Portugal. Cavani scores one of the best goals of the tournament, rising high to latch onto Suárez's skilful diagonal pass. The Portuguese equalise early in the second half but Cavani doubles his and Uruguay's tally as he curls a wonderful shot into the corner. Tabárez is getting just what he wanted out of his new generation of players, and Cavani is playing his best football.

However, the victory comes at a huge cost, and one that makes international sporting headlines. Having scored both his country's goals, he suddenly injures his calf and has to limp off, assisted by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. Nobody knows yet how serious the injury is. Cavani's face is initially calm but soon gives way to anxiety and apprehension as he holds back the tears, a bittersweet mixture of joy and distress as it becomes clear he will be ruled out of the quarter-final against France.
he Uruguay head coach Óscar Tabárez is ill, struggling even to walk. Sometimes, he rises from the bench and approaches the touchline, leaning on his crutch. It is a powerful image that would not be out of place in a literary or a cinematographic work. Tabárez has two superstars in his
Cristiano Ronaldo
helps the injured
Edinson Cavani off the pitch.
It would be the
LAST MATCH OF
RUSSIA 2018

for both of them
he Uruguay head coach Óscar Tabárez is ill, struggling even to walk. Sometimes, he rises from the bench and approaches the touchline, leaning on his crutch. It is a powerful image that would not be out of place in a literary or a cinematographic work. Tabárez has two superstars in his team: Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. The former had already been a hero and villain at previous World Cups. He "saved" his team from conceding a late winner with that infamous handball in the quarter-finals against Ghana in 2010. Even more notoriously, he bit the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. Now, it's Cavani's turn to steal the limelight but in a far more laudable way.

It is the round of 16 in Russia, Uruguay versus Portugal. Cavani scores one of the best goals of the tournament, rising high to latch onto Suárez's skilful diagonal pass. The Portuguese equalise early in the second half but Cavani doubles his and Uruguay's tally as he curls a wonderful shot into the corner. Tabárez is getting just what he wanted out of his new generation of players, and Cavani is playing his best football.

However, the victory comes at a huge cost, and one that makes international sporting headlines. Having scored both his country's goals, he suddenly injures his calf and has to limp off, assisted by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. Nobody knows yet how serious the injury is. Cavani's face is initially calm but soon gives way to anxiety and apprehension as he holds back the tears, a bittersweet mixture of joy and distress as it becomes clear he will be ruled out of the quarter-final against France.
Cristiano Ronaldo helps the injured Edinson Cavani off the pitch. It would be the LAST MATCH OF RUSSIA 2018 for both of them
В матче с Мексикой Каземиро получил ВТОРОЕ ПРЕДУПРЕЖДЕНИЕ
на турнире, из-за которого пропустил игру с Бельгией
And he was not the only one. Brazil's Casemiro missed the quarter-final against Belgium because of the second yellow card he received against Mexico. Few people knew Casemiro four years ago, but over time he had become a key player both for Real Madrid and the national team. Casemiro provided balance and security but had to watch the quarter-final against Belgium from the stands due to suspension. Agonisingly, he saw his replacement Fernandinho score an own goal and could do nothing as Brazil crashed out of the tournament.
Uruguay with Cavani are a potent force. Without him, the French have a distinct advantage. Failure to deliver during a game is not the end of the world for a forward. Things can still turn out for the best. After all, football is a team game. The worst thing, though, is powerlessness – the inability to be involved at all. This was what Edinson Cavani experienced at the World Cup
Brazil midfielder Casemiro picked up his SECOND YELLOW of the tournament against Mexico, ruling him out of the meeting with Belgium
It is the round of 16 and Colombia versus England. The cameras home in on James Rodríguez sitting in the stands. He had expected to play a major role that day but frustratingly is not even on the sub's bench, having come off injured in the 31st minute of his side's final group-stage match against Senegal. Before that, playing alongside Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero and Radamel Falcao, he helped destroy Poland 3-0. Colombia's whole way of playing depends on whether or not James is on the pitch. When he is, they look to press hard, stymie their opponents' advances, take control of the ball and launch swift counterattacks. When he's not, they sit deeper.

James Rodríguez was badly needed against the English, when the Cafeteros sought to press their opponents closer to their own box. Instead, he could do nothing to influence the outcome except watch his teammates do their best for 90 minutes. He did at least enjoy a measure of relief when, after falling behind to Harry Kane's well-struck penalty, Colombia managed to pull themselves level. As the game entered stoppage time, Jordan Pickford clawed away Mateus Uribe's 25-yard strike for a corner, from which defender Yerry Mina rose high to equalise. Extra time.
It is the round of 16 and Colombia versus England. The cameras home in on James Rodríguez sitting in the stands. He had expected to play a major role that day but frustratingly is not even on the sub's bench, having come off injured in the 31st minute of his side's final group-stage match against Senegal. Before that, playing alongside Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero and Radamel Falcao, he helped destroy Poland 3-0. Colombia's whole way of playing depends on whether or not James is on the pitch. When he is, they look to press hard, stymie their opponents' advances, take control of the ball and launch swift counterattacks. When he's not, they sit deeper.

James Rodríguez was badly needed against the English, when the Cafeteros sought to press their opponents closer to their own box. Instead, he could do nothing to influence the outcome except watch his teammates do their best for 90 minutes. He did at least enjoy a measure of relief when, after falling behind to Harry Kane's well-struck penalty, Colombia managed to pull themselves level. As the game entered stoppage time, Jordan Pickford clawed away Mateus Uribe's 25-yard strike for a corner, from which defender Yerry Mina rose high to equalise. Extra time.
James saw his team dominate the first extra period but then fall away. A penalty shootout ensued. Surely Colombia will prevail? Goalkeeper David Ospina saves from Jordan Henderson and everyone suddenly remembers England's woeful shootout record. Not this time. Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca both fail to score and James, unable to intervene, can only dream of what might have been.

Four years previously, as the 2014 World Cup's top goalscorer, James was
in tears after his team lost out to Brazil in the quarter-finals and was consoled
by David Luiz. Now, it was Mateus Uribe who needed consolation. England coach Gareth Southgate was one of the first to provide it. Southgate knew all about missing penalties having failed in the shootout against Germany at EURO 96. He became just one more example of the English curse. This time he was the one to help lift it.
A dejected
James Rodriguez
ponders Colombia's
Round of 16
DEFEAT TO ENGLAND
A dejected James Rodriguez ponders Colombia's Round of 16 DEFEAT TO ENGLAND
As self-inflicted dramas go, few could match what happened to Colombia's defensive midfielder Carlos Sánchez, who received the first red card of the 2018 tournament after an acrobatic – but totally illegal – handball with just three minutes on the clock against Japan. Some claim it was deliberate, others that it was an involuntary reflex action, but La Roca (The Rock), as he is known, left his country fighting an uphill battle. It was little surprise when the Japanese ran out winners after making their numerical advantage count. Suddenly Colombia found themselves in dire straits.
England national
team coach
GARETH SOUTHGATE
KNOWS EXACTLY
HOW THE COLOMBIANS
ARE FEELING
after
their shootout loss
THE JAPANESE PLAYED
SOME EXCITING

against Belgium but
failed to hold on to their
two-goal lead
Reprisal threats were made against Sánchez on social media. There are so many crazy people out there but, in Colombia, such threats are taken very seriously. Who can ever forget defender Andrés Escobar being shot dead in his own country in the wake of that own goal against the USA in 1994? Not surprisingly, when Colombia won their next match in Russia, they dedicated it to Carlos Sánchez.

The Japanese had a drama of their own, of course; this time concerning fair play – or lack of it. Their coach Akira Nishino, who took on the job just before the World Cup, made a tactical decision before his team's final group game against Poland. The Asian side had four points going into that match, the same as Senegal, with both having scored four goals and conceded three. Nishino knew that Poland had already blown any chance of advancing to the knockout stage. He also knew exactly what it would take for his own team to go through. So, when Poland took the lead early in the second half and Colombia did likewise against Senegal in the parallel match, Nishino gave his players an extraordinary order: "Keep the score as it is because more important is not picking up any yellow cards." He knew that with exactly the same record as Senegal, FIFA's fair play rule would be invoked – which is exactly what happened. The match against Poland finished in farcical fashion, with both sides happy to play the ball around at the back. Simply by having two fewer yellow cards than Senegal, Japan advanced at the Africans' expense. They didn't care how they managed it.

Not surprisingly, the tactic prompted a torrent of criticism; the Japanese were accused of breaching the samurai code of honour, for acting out of cowardice.
Having achieved their goal and with nothing to lose, they behaved in a very different manner in the round of 16 fixture against Belgium. It was probably the best match Japan have ever played at any World Cup. They showed terrific discipline in defence and were clever and creative in attack, stunning the much-fancied Belgians to take a 2-0 lead. Even when the class and power of Belgium brought them back to 2-2, the Japanese did not resort to simply defending their goal and kept pushing forward and creating chances. But just when the match was about to move into extra time, they paid the penalty. Instead of playing out time by passing the ball among themselves, they tried to win the game there and then. In a flash, the Belgians intercepted, put together a wonderful counterattacking move to score and break Japanese hearts.

Two totally different matches. Extreme caution in one, recklessness in the other. Such was the legacy of Japan in Russia.
And let's not forget the denouement of Germany's group. Mexico had spectacularly beaten the defending champions in their first match, then prevailed against Korea Republic. They seemed certain to go through, only to lose 3-0 to Sweden. Suddenly the Mexicans were in grave danger of elimination, knowing that a German victory over the Asians would send them home. Incredibly, it was the European heavyweights who departed early after the Koreans recorded a massive 2-0 upset, with fate delivering a cruel blow to legendary German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Despite missing the whole season due to injury, coach Joachim Löw still entrusted him with the No1 jersey. After all, Neuer was the team leader. Yet it was his mistake late on, caught in possession after charging upfield to help his teammates chase the game, that gave the Koreans their second decisive goal. The result saw Germany pack their suitcases and Mexico breathe again.
THE EARLY EXIT
of Joachim Löw's
Germany TEAM
WAS ONE OF THE
BIGGEST SURPRISES

of Russia 2018
Fate was perhaps even crueller on Argentina keeper Willy Caballero. Four years earlier, he was rather inexplicably omitted from the squad for the World Cup in Brazil, despite having an excellent season with Spanish club Málaga and preparing for a move to the English Premier League. This time he was called into the squad by Albiceleste coach Jorge Sampaoli and, on the eve of the World Cup, became his country's first choice keeper when Sergio Romero was ruled out through injury. For a player whose career was supposedly in decline, it represented a golden opportunity. Yet what transpired was nothing short of a nightmare, as he made one of the biggest blunders in recent World Cup history in the second half against Croatia. Poised to make a routine clearance to start an Argentinian attack, Caballero's attempted chipped pass was intercepted by Ante Rebić, who then produced a thunderous finish to break the deadlock. Scandalously, the Argentinian fans started booing their goalkeeper. After two rocky displays that culminated in that game-defining error against Croatia, Caballero never played again.
Korea Republic
SEND defending
world champions
Germany HOME
There was
TO BE NO PLACE
IN THE FINAL

for Argentina this time
The Russian team's main drama, by contrast, had a happy ending. Alan Dzagoev, injured during the first match against Saudi Arabia, was not expected to play again until the quarter-final stage, by which time most people expected the hosts to have exited the tournament. Instead, Russia progressed to a last-eight showdown with Croatia, with Dzagoev not only coming on as a substitute with his team trailing 2-1 but taking the free kick from which Mario Fernándes equalised deep into extra time. And although the ensuing penalty shootout ultimately went against the hosts, what incredible emotions the Russian fans experienced

There were happy endings, too, for a number of other players who will be remembered as winners after experiencing great drama. The Croatians managed not one, not two but three extra-time wins, including a penalty shootout. In one of those games, the last-16 victory over Denmark, Kasper Schmeichel famously saved Luka Modrić's penalty in the final moments of extra time watched by his proud father Peter, who won the European Championship with Denmark and the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United. Son Kasper made two penalty saves during that nerve-shredding shootout against Croatia and was named man of the match – even though his team lost and even though his Croatian counterpart Danijel Subašić made three saves in the shootout!

And then there was Modrić, whose mind, during that Denmark game, surely went back to EURO 2008 against Turkey when he missed a penalty in the shootout. Having missed one in regular time in Nizhny Novgorod, he went from zero to hero as he bravely stepped up and scored against Schmeichel when facing the Dane again from the spot. Modrić could have become one of the main World Cup villains. Everybody would have forgotten the genius shown during subsequent matches against Russia, England and France. Nor would he have won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. But small margins often dictate success and Luka was one of the biggest successes of all. The best of the best tend to turn their own dramas to the advantage of their teams.
As self-inflicted dramas go, few could match what happened to Colombia's defensive midfielder Carlos Sánchez, who received the first red card of the 2018 tournament after an acrobatic – but totally illegal – handball with just three minutes on the clock against Japan. Some claim it was deliberate, others that it was an involuntary reflex action, but La Roca (The Rock), as he is known, left his country fighting an uphill battle. It was little surprise when the Japanese ran out winners after making their numerical advantage count. Suddenly Colombia found themselves in dire straits.
Reprisal threats were made against Sánchez on social media. There are so many crazy people out there but, in Colombia, such threats are taken very seriously. Who can ever forget defender Andrés Escobar being shot dead in his own country in the wake of that own goal against the USA in 1994? Not surprisingly, when Colombia won their next match in Russia, they dedicated it to Carlos Sánchez.

The Japanese had a drama of their own, of course; this time concerning fair play – or lack of it. Their coach Akira Nishino, who took on the job just before the World Cup, made a tactical decision before his team's final group game against Poland. The Asian side had four points going into that match, the same as Senegal, with both having scored four goals and conceded three. Nishino knew that Poland had already blown any chance of advancing to the knockout stage. He also knew exactly what it would take for his own team to go through. So, when Poland took the lead early in the second half and Colombia did likewise against Senegal in the parallel match, Nishino gave his players an extraordinary order: "Keep the score as it is because more important is not picking up any yellow cards." He knew that with exactly the same record as Senegal, FIFA's fair play rule would be invoked – which is exactly what happened. The match against Poland finished in farcical fashion, with both sides happy to play the ball around at the back. Simply by having two fewer yellow cards than Senegal, Japan advanced at the Africans' expense. They didn't care how they managed it.

Not surprisingly, the tactic prompted a torrent of criticism; the Japanese were accused of breaching the samurai code of honour, for acting out of cowardice.
Два матча. В одном – крайняя осторожность. В другом – безрассудство. Это все про сборную Японии.

Настоящую драму переживали в концовке матча со шведами мексиканские игроки и болельщики. Они ведь победили действующих чемпионов мира – сборную Германии – в первом матче. Они выиграли у корейцев. И вдруг 0:3. Соотношение забитых и пропущенных мячей теперь – минус один, а значит, немцам в параллельной встрече достаточно забить один гол сборной Кореи, чтобы Мексика отправилась домой…
Но забили корейцы. И не один, а два мяча. Последний – в пустые ворота сборной Германии. Нет, это не хоккейный матч! Судьба сыграла злую шутку с Мануэлем Нойером, немецким вратарем. Он пропустил весь сезон из-за травмы. Но тренер Йоахим Лёв все же доверил ему место в стартовом составе сборной. Нойер – лидер. Его особенность – уверенная игра ногами. И, когда Германия уже пропустила первый гол от Кореи, когда забивать нужно было два мяча, Нойер почувствовал, что именно он должен пойти вперед и подать мяч в штрафную. Он пошел. Мяч отобрали. Дальше Германия паковала чемоданы.
Еще более жестоко поступила судьба с вратарем сборной Аргентины Вильфредо Кабальеро. Четыре года назад мало кто понимал, почему
его не берут на чемпионат мира. Он тогда провел великолепный сезон
в испанской «Малаге», готовился переезжать в чемпионат Англии.
Но Кабальеро игнорировали.
В 2018 году тренер сборной Аргентины Хорхе Сампаоли вызвал Кабальеро
в качестве сменщика Серхио Ромеро. И надо же такому случиться,
что Ромеро накануне чемпионата мира получил травму! Кабальеро стал основным вратарем – шанс на склоне карьеры. Матч с Хорватией.
Второй тайм. Кабальеро дарит мяч Анте Ребичу, который открывает счет.
И аргентинские болельщики на трибунах освистывают своего вратаря. Небывалое, скандальное дело. Кабальеро после этого на турнире не играл. Вряд ли он это заслужил.

У сборной России тоже была своя драма. Со счастливым, впрочем, концом. Алан Дзагоев в первом же матче с Саудовской Аравией получил травму. Говорили, что восстановится он только к четвертьфиналу. Никто не думал, что Россия его сыграет.

Сыграла. С Хорватией. Дзагоев вышел на замену. И при счете 1:2 именно
он со штрафного выложил мяч на голову Марио Фернандесу, который отправил его в ворота. Круг для Алана замкнулся. А российские болельщики пережили невероятные эмоции.

Наконец, бывали на этом чемпионате драмы, из которых некоторые игроки так или иначе выходили победителями. В одной восьмой финала хорваты играли с датчанами. Это был первый, но не последний матч сборной Хорватии, который длился не 90 минут, а все 120 (плюс пенальти).
На последних минутах дополнительного времени в ворота сборной Дании был назначен пенальти. И вратарь Каспер Шмейхель отразил удар
Луки Модрича – на глазах у своего отца Петера Шмейхеля, чемпиона Европы и победителя Лиги чемпионов.

Шмейхель в том матче отразил еще два одиннадцатиметровых.
В послематчевой серии. Он был признан лучшим игроком встречи. Хотя
его команда и уступила: там, где Шмейхель отбил два пенальти, хорватский вратарь Даниел Субашич отразил три!

И Модрич… Он наверняка помнил игру с Турцией на Евро десятилетней давности. Лука тогда был очень ярким, но лишь подававшим надежды футболистом. Он организовал гол на последних минутах дополнительного времени, и тут же хорваты пропустили, а затем проиграли в серии пенальти, и Модрич не забил…

И вот на стадионе в Нижнем Новгороде, спустя всего десять минут после первой неудачи, ему предстояло вновь пробить Шмейхелю, который уже изучил его манеру.

Модрич мог стать одним из главных неудачников чемпионата. Все забыли бы гениальную игру с Аргентиной. Никто не увидел бы гениальную игру
с Россией и Англией, «Золотой мяч» после финала. Если бы Лука снова не попал.

Он не промахнулся. Лучшие не признают для себя драм. Они их сочиняют для других.
THE JAPANESE PLAYED SOME EXCITING against Belgium but failed to hold on to their two-goal lead
THE EARLY EXIT of Joachim Löw's Germany TEAM WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST SURPRISES of Russia 2018
Korea Republic SEND defending world champions German HOME
There was TO BE NO PLACE IN THE FINAL for Argentina this time
England national team coach GARETH SOUTHGATE KNOWS EXACTLY HOW THE COLOMBIANS ARE FEELING after their shootout loss