Farewell, World Cup 2018. Thank You For Croatian President’s Jaadu Ki Jhappi & Maradona’s Madness

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Farewell, World Cup 2018. Thank You For Croatian President’s Jaadu Ki Jhappi & Maradona’s Madness

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

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he last time Croatia and France met each other in a World Cup match, the stakes were considerably lower: For one, it was the semi-finals and Didier Deschamps was playing for France. The result mirrored the one we witnessed last night at the World Cup final in Moscow: France won. This time, 4-2.

But last night will also remain unforgettable for a host of other reasons. The 2018 World Cup final boasted of six goals, out of which four were scored by France, including an own goal and a VAR penalty – a first for any final. With France’s win, Didier Deschamps became the third man to have won the World Cup as both a player and a coach (And second to have won as both captain and coach). And at 19, Kylian Mbappé became the youngest player to score in a World Cup final in six decades. To top it off, there was French President Emmanuel Macron’s adorable dab with Benjamin Mendy and Paul Pogba and his joyous celebration, where he channelled part delirious fan and all-round Greek God.

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Giving her jaadu ki jhappi to Croatia’s golden boy Modrić and every other player, she made certain that her team was assured that a runner-up is never a loser.

Image Credits: Getty Images

What’s not to love? We were blessed with a World Cup that was wild and unpredictable until the last minute. And, for this we willingly sacrificed our sleep cycles. Imagine how out of character it will now feel to go to work after sleeping for eight glorious hours. Or to talk to a colleague about the weather, instead of Germany’s jinx. But now that a winner has been declared and the curtains on the greatest sporting event of the year (Sorry, Djokovic!) have come down, does it really mean that it’s over?

Before withdrawals hit you as unsuspectingly as Argentina’s untimely exit hit Lionel Messi, here’s a list of five World Cup moments that will have you reminiscing, howling, and laughing your ass off in equal measure.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Croatian President and Ultimate Fangirl

Can I just say that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the find of this World Cup? The Croatian president made her place in the lads’ game by cheering for every Croatian goal, save, and assist as sincerely as Luka Modrić touched the ball. Last night, however, was the peak of her fangirling: After spending the whole of 90 minutes clapping for her team, she took defeat in her stride as well. Not only did she walk hand-in-hand with Macron and congratulate the winning team like a great sport, but also went out on the field in the rain to cheer up the Croatian team. Giving her jaadu ki jhappi to Croatia’s golden boy Modrić and every other player, she made certain that her team was assured that a runner-up is never a loser. She might have a country to run, but she’s not gonna do it without some damn football.

The Exorcism of Diego Maradona

The one thing that the 2018 World Cup provides definite proof of, is the fact that Diego Maradona is indeed possessed. During Argentina’s match against Nigeria and right after Messi’s spectacular goal, Maradona ko mata chadh gayi.

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Maradona channelled his inner Christ, auditioned for Black Panther 2 by striking a Wakanda pose, snorted coke like it was a superfood, took a power nap, and topped it off with a middle-finger to the crowd.

Image Credits: Getty Images

He channelled his inner Christ, auditioned for Black Panther 2 by striking a Wakanda pose, snorted coke like it was a superfood, unveiled a massive poster of himself, took a power nap, and topped it off with a middle-finger to the crowd. I didn’t even buy tickets to the World Cup and yet felt like Maradona guaranteed that I had my tickets’ worth. #Legend.

To Panama With Love

The whole world might remember the England-Panama group match as the time when the reinvigorated English side demolished their opponents with six goals and had everyone wondering: Will this be England’s year? (It wasn’t.)

But, despite the scorecard reading 6-1, for Panama fans, it was a night of pride, as Felipe Baoye gave the country its first World Cup goal. The ripple effect of the free kick that was converted into a goal in the 78th minute could be felt all across the Central American nation — in bars, pubs and on the streets as fans celebrated the pride of leaving an indelible mark on the international stage. A timely reminder that in the World Cup and in football, scorecards matter the least.

A timely reminder that in the World Cup and in football, scorecards matter the least.

Thank You, Japan

Japan, the fair-play champs, the only Asian team left in the World Cup at the time, outplayed Belgium from the get-go, dominating the first-half like hardened warriors. Except, Belgium capitalised on the second-half to make the comeback of the World Cup and defeat the disciplined samurais. On their part, Japan guaranteed that it was impossible to think of the match (best match of the World Cup, imo) without admiring their sportsmanship in the aftermath of a crushing loss. Giving us a lesson in grace, the Japanese team bowed to their fans in gratitude, cleaned out their locker room, and left behind a thank you note in the changing room before leaving Russia. The Japanese fans on the other hand, stayed behind to help the workers clean the stands. And they certainly swept us off our feet.

Tequila Diplomacy

When a delectably terrific South Korea sent defending champions Germany packing, they also guaranteed two things: Their exit. And, Mexico advancing in the World Cup despite their loss to Sweden. Mexico fans showed their undying gratitude for a selfless sacrifice the only way they knew how to: By making South Koreans a part of their raucous celebrations. Even Byoung Jin-Hang, the Korean Consul General to Mexico, wasn’t spared — he was lifted in the air by Mexican fans, joined their revelry by downing a tequila shot and wearing a borrowed Mexico jersey. International camaraderie: 1, Germany: 0.

Special mentions: Ronaldo’s hattrick. Ronaldo’s goatee. Neymar’s rolls. Putin’s side-eye. Mbappé-Pussy Riot high-five. Croatian team’s apology kisses. And, last but not the least, immigrants who managed to unite nations.

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