The World Cup is over and congratulations go to Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele who won the trophy for les Bleus. Commiserations to Ivan Rakitic whose Croatia team were beaten 4-2 in final.
Here’s a look at some things we learned from an entertaining tournament in Russia.
VAR won’t end controversy in La Liga
The World Cup saw VAR used for the first time and while it was generally viewed as a success it did not stop controversy raging over some decisions.
The final is a prime example. France were awarded a penalty after Ivan Perisic was adjudged to have handled the ball, a decision which many disagreed with and felt was incorrect.
The technology is expected to be used in La Liga next season and will be welcomed, particularly as the league has seen some really poor decisions over recent campaigns.
But while it might help the referees and clean up some of the decision-making, it’s not a perfect system and debate will undoubtedly still reign over some incidents.
Messi should let Rakitic take the penalties
Ivan Rakitic was absolutely ice cool for Croatia not once, but twice when he was charged with taking the crucial penalty in shoot-outs against Denmark and Russia.
The midfielder took it all calmly in his stride as he converted the match-winning penalty for his team who made it all the way to the final.
It’s a big contrast to Messi who saw his only spot-kick at the tournament saved by Iceland’s goalkeeper. He’s now taken 104 penalties in his career and missed 24 of them.
Obviously that’s not a great record particularly for a player of Messi’s quality. He said earlier in the year he needs to improve his penalties, maybe he should just leave them to Rakitic?
Argentina show what Messi-dependency really looks like
Barcelona were once again accused of being dependent on Lionel Messi last season after the GOAT had another incredible season bagging 34 goals and 12 assists in 23 La Liga games.
However, it’s Argentina who really showed what Messi-dependency looks like as Jorge Sampaoli’s side endured a pretty shambolic tournament.
La Albiceleste only qualified for the World Cup due to Messi’s heroics in qualifying and needed his brilliance again as they beat Nigeria 2-1 to make it to the knockout phase.
They departed after a chaotic 4-3 defeat to France, with Messi grabbing two assists, but their performances were so poor you have to wonder how they’d fare without their star man.
Yerry Mina deserves another chance
Before the World Cup Yerry Mina was largely written off after a pretty poor outing against Levante when Barcelona saw their long unbeaten record fall in a crazy 5-4 defeat.
Rightly or wrongly much of the blame was pointed in the direction of Mina in what was only his fifth outing for his new club.
Fast forward to the World Cup and Mina returned to Colombia as a hero after scoring three goals as Jose Pekerman’s side made it to the last 16.
The centre-back also looked far more assured in defence, and his performances appear to have attracted plenty of interest.
The defender says he wants to stay and prove himself, and after only arriving six months ago surely deserves another chance to impress.
Coutinho’s potential is so exciting
Philippe Coutinho has already shown glimpses of what he is capable of in a Barcelona shirt. He finished the season with 10 goals and five assists after only arriving in January.
At the World Cup he was Brazil’s most decisive player providing two goals and two assists in five outings for the Selecao.
While it was ultimately a disappointing tournament for Brazil, as they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Belgium, Coutinho shone for Tite’s side
Umtiti really is a world-beater
Barcelona fans have known for some time that Samuel Umtiti is the real deal, and the defender enjoyed a great tournament in Russia.
His partnership with Raphael Varane at the back was rock solid for Les Bleus. He also popped up with a crucial goal against Belgium in the semi-finals.
Umtiti can now look forward to a deserved holiday which means he’ll probably miss the start of pre-season and potentially the club’s US tour.
All of which is great news for Clement Lenglet who may get a chance to impress in his place, but will seriously have to go some to force Umtiti out of the team.