For third place: Belgium

Final: France

And for your first TL, happy anniversary for that! Can't remember when I first put up my first TL, feels like ages! :p
 
Always great to see you update just as I'm contemplating going to sleep.

Bronze match
Belgium 1-0 Uruguay

Final
England 0-1 France
 
2018 Third Place Play-Off and Final

2018 Third Place Play-Off and Final


Belgium and Uruguay would play each other in the third place play-off at Villa Park, with both sides fielding very much weakened teams for the game. Belgium would triumph 2-0, with Thomas Meunier scoring the first goal in only the fourth minute, before Eden Hazard scored the winner with eight minutes to go.

For Belgium, it was their best ever World Cup performance, and one that confirmed their place among the European elite, while for Uruguay, it matched their best performance since their two victories in 1930 and 1950.

The next day, though, came the big one…

For England, Gareth Southgate’s team had thoroughly redeemed themselves after the shambles of two years earlier, when they had been humiliated by Iceland. But, even they’d acknowledge, they were very much the underdogs for the match, against a France team who had visibly grown in confidence throughout the tournament. Some, only half-jokingly, suggested that we could be in for a repeat of the 2014 final, in which the hosts were utterly humiliated by the favourites!

As the two teams walked out onto the Wembley turf, the atmosphere was great. There had been fears beforehand that the largely partisan England home crowd might boo Les Marseilles, but, thankfully, if there were any, they were very much drowned out by the applause both teams gave to both anthems.

As the game started, England started strongly with it, pushing forwards as if they sensed they may need to get the game over with quickly as, the longer the game went on, the more likelier France were to grow into the game and overpower them. Hugo Lloris was on hand to deny any chances they could throw his way, however, and, just shy of twenty minutes in, against the run of play, France came forwards and won a free kick.

Griezmann would take it, and Harry Kane would get an unfortunate header on the ball that knocked it beyond Pickford’s reach; 1-0 France. And the England captain would be the answer to an ever lasting quiz question: the first ever own goal in a World Cup final.

But this only encouraged the England fans in the crowd. The team pushed forwards, and would get their reward when Raheem Sterling got a nice volley that made it 1-1, and sent the crowd into raptures! Suddenly believing again, it was now France worried that maybe England might be able to push them out of the game.

But then, controversy arose; ten minutes later, France got a corner, which seemed to come to nothing, but Les Bleus were insistent there had been a handball. Referee Nestor Pitana went to VAR to check, and the replay showed the ball hand indeed hit Sterling’s open palmed hand. Penalty to France, as the England crowd booed the house down! Despite the loud noise, Griezmann wasn’t perturbed, and comfortably sent his kick past Pickford to give France the lead back.

Half time came, France led 2-1, and England were far from happy about how they’d fallen behind again, but were still confident that they could pull back in the second half if the fans could get behind them.

And get behind them they did as the second half began, but it was no use: France now had a lead to defend and dug in well, with Lloris more than a match for the early chances England threw at them in the first half.

And then, in a matter of six minutes, the game was over, as Paul Pogba fired in a third from just outside the box, before Mbappe did likewise, making him the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele!

England were now a spent force and, while Kane would pull one back thanks to an uncharacteristic howler from his Spurs teammate Lloris (thus giving him another claim to fame, the first man to score for both teams in a World Cup final!), Les Bleus saw out the game fairly comfortably that aside.

As the whistle blew, France had won their second World Cup, level with England, whose wait for their third would go on for at least four more years.

2018 Knockout Stage.PNG

On the whole, it had been a great tournament; England had been excellent hosts, there had been plenty of fun, exciting football, and, unlike Euro 96, where the stadiums had been half empty for games not involving England and/or Scotland, the atmospheres had been great throughout. It would be a summer no British football fan would ever forget!

With that done, all eyes now turned stateside for 2022…

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And that's that! Yeah, basically the same two matches as OTL, except with the different opponents of course. Which leaves the final scores as:
  • NTF: 19
  • Matthew Firth: 13
  • GeorgeUK: 11
  • Unknown: 6
  • QTX: 5
  • Gracchus Tiberius: 2
Congrats to NTF on winning!

So, that's this TL almost finished for now; we'll be back for a quick epilogue (for now) next week, and then the week after, we'll be heading back to my first TL for something extra I'd like to try with it. So, see you next Wednesday then...
 
Epilogue (for now): A Necessary Change

Epilogue (for now): A Necessary Change


The day before England and Tunisia kicked off the 2018 World Cup, FIFA made their decision on who would be hosting the 2026 edition of the tournament. Coming down to a choice between Australia and Morocco, the Africans would miss out yet again, as Australia was the runaway choice to bring the tournament to Oceania for the first time…

But then, two years later, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and everything changed…

The decision to postpone that year’s Euros to the following year was seen as the right decision, as was that to postpone the 2021 Women’s Euros to the following year as well. But it did raise a slight problem, which was that the latter would now clash with the Men’s World Cup.

After a FIFA EGM (conducted over Zoom, obviously), it was decided that the 2022 Men’s World Cup would be moved to the end of the year, so as to avoid the clash with the rescheduled Women’s Euros. As Australia would be a more appropriate host for such a tournament, it was proposed that they and the USA swap hosting duties.

Both agreed, and so it was decided: Australia would host the 2022 tournament in November and December of that year, and the USA would host the 2026 edition…

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OK, so, before this TL goes into hibernation, a quick little epilogue (for now). Because, as unhappy as we all are about Qatar's hosting of this year's tournament, and the resulting switch to a winter tournament, perhaps it was actually a good thing that it didn't go ahead in the summer as usual, for the reasons I wrote above. So, yeah, Australia will be hosting 2022 ITTL, as with almost every other TL on this site apart from my original TL!

So, that's all for this TL for now; we shall be back some time early next year. Thanks to all who read and commented on this TL over the past four months; much appreciated as ever!

Next week, we shall be returning to my old TL, as I've thought of something I'd like to try with it. So, see you then then...
 
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