The Everyman’s Guide To The FIFA World Cup 2018 – A Wrap of the Group Stages

Hello hello hello!

The FIFA World Cup 2018 is 75% over. Yes, for the more mathematically inclined of you, that means that there are only one fourth of the matches still to go. Now, depending on which side of the The-World-Cup-Is-A-Farce-Give-Me-The-Premier-League-(-The-Greatest-League-In-The-World-) divide you are on, this is either an excellent thing or a bad thing. If you are on the League side of things, the World Cup is probably a rubbish distraction with all this talk of actual football (as if!) being played. Clearly, this is taking away from what could be a most fruitful summer of watching the will-Neymar-leave-PSG-for-Madrid soap opera that would have had you spending countless hours trawling newspapers and obscure blogs over. If, however, you are on the World Cup side of the divide, now the good stuff begins, is probably where you are at.

So let us get this out of the way then. We are at the Round of 16. This means that there are 16 teams left (shocking, yes!) and that, from here on in, it is a simple case of one in every two. The proverbial, knock-out (which, probably is a bone of contention for the Leaguers who believe that a victory on points is probably the better gauge of a better team but that is for a later philosophical debate) is here and, well, it promises to be fun.

We would, of course, be amiss, if we were to delve direct into the future without a quick recap of the past. On that, some highlights of the group stages:

  • 16 teams have gone home
    • Most of them expected to
      • Then again, to your thought of all of them eventually did expect that (except Russia, of course — who are home)
        • I speak in hyperbole, of course
  • The biggest shock, bar none, was Germany — the defending champions — bowing out
    • Most are now questioning that Beatles paradigm — all you need is Lowe
    • Everyone with a statistical bent of mind, however, is not all that shocked because the holders have crashed out in the group stages more often than not in recent World Cups
      • Multiple theories have been put forth re. this but the most significant seems to be around, as Jeeves often says, the psychology of the individual
        • The “hunger” has been questioned
          • FIFA intends to inspect food at all coming world cups
    • The jokes and memes about Leroy being left out will go on
      • I will, however, refrain.
        • Still, Germany crashing out of the world cup is just in-Sane!
  • Mo Salah flopped
    • Not quite as much as some of Neymar after one of his numerous falls though
  • Neymar cried
    • Not as much as Mo Salah though, who learnt that he had to go back to Egypt early
  • All African teams crashed out in the group stages
    • There is nothing funny in this
  • Japan went through on fair play because they received fewer yellow cards than Senegal
    • Don’t even think about making any jokes here. They will be racist
  • England expect the World Cup to be theirs. As they always do
  • Panama was fairly terrible.
    • Can-all questions of an upset be laid to rest? Yes
  • Iceland could not repeat their heroics of 2016
    • Apparently, 99.6% of the TV viewing population of Iceland saw their game against Argentina
      • There might just be the slim possibility that this stat was put out by an over-zealous Bradman enthusiat
        • @icelandcricket has been on the twitterverse fairly regularly during the World Cup, tweeting about football
          • not insinuating; just saying
  • Argentina, despite the best efforts of just about everyone in the team, sneaked through to the knock out stages
    • It was fairly Messi, but they have made it
  • Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Spain
    • He was implicated for tax fraud in Spain
      • Some say he bit the hand that fed him
  • Russia surprised everyone by an enhanced performance that saw them besting all prior (highly low) expectations
    • The doubters, the Russian President says, have been put-in their place

Well, with that, you are pretty much caught up on all you need to know about what happened thus far. Now, watch more knowledge-ably, the knock out stages and remember — in the end, football is the real winner (except for the team that actually wins the World Cup, of course).

 

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