Fifa World Cup 2018 | The Daily Star

Benjamin Pavard's swerving strike from the edge of the area in France's round of 16 win over Argentina in Kazan has been voted the best goal of the World Cup finals, FIFA have said.

France were trailing 2-1 and heading out of the tournament until the relatively unknown full back got on the end of Lucas Hernandez's over-cooked cross on the edge of the area.

Leaning back and striking the ball on the half volley with the outside of his boot, Pavard generated vicious top spin which took it beyond the reach of Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani.

France went on to win the match 4-3 and then claimed the World Cup for the second time with a victory over Croatia in the final in Moscow.

Pavard's strike beat out 17 other goals, including a stunning long-range effort from Argentina's Angel Di Maria in the same match, to win the award after a vote by fans, FIFA said. "Proud, honoured, and always a little bit hard to believe," Pavard said in a Twitter post in French.

Juan Fernando Quintero's free kick for Colombia against Japan, a side-footed shot which went under the defensive wall and in off the hands of the goalkeeper, was second in the voting.

Quintero's international team mate James Rodriguez won the vote for the best goal of the 2014 tournament in Brazil with his chest down and volley from 30 yards against Uruguay.


Brazil superstar Neymar admits that after his nation’s quarter-final defeat to Belgium at the World Cup he couldn't look at a ball and didn’t want to see any of the remaining matches.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I didn’t want to play again but, I didn’t want to see a ball, or to see any more football played,” 26-year-old Neymar told AFP in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

The Paris Saint Germain forward was talking at his Neymar Praia Grande institute where the Red Bull Neymar Jr 5’s (five-a-side-soccer) tournament was being played.

Dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt, with his six-year-old son Davi Lucca sat upon his knee, the striker was however in a relaxed mood as he explained his post-World Cup blues.

“I was in mourning, I was really sad about it, but sadness passes, I have my son, my family, my friends and they don’t want to see me moping around. I’ve got more reason to be happy than sad,” said Neymar, reflecting on his team’s 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Belgium.

Asked about reports in Spain linking him with a transfer to Real Madrid the forward said “that’s all speculation from the press.”

“The guys who come up with these stories seem to know more about my life than I do. I won’t respond to this type of question because nothing happened,” he scoffed.

The Brazilian superstar, who moved to PSG for a world record 222 million euros ($264 million) last year, insists that the burden of expectation on his shoulders -- whether with his club or country -- does not weigh heavily.

“No, all the great players feel pressure,” he said.

“It’s true that when it comes to me, there are double standards. I have been aware of this responsibility, not only for Brazil, but also in club fotball, since I was 17, 18 years old.

“I have prepared myself to handle this pressure and I know that when the results are not what they should be then that pressure increases.”

Neymar has been hit by a barrage of criticism for theatrical rolling around after being fouled at the World Cup, but says he should have been better protected.

- ‘Criticism of me exaggerated’ -

“People were faster to criticise the one being fouled than the one doing the fouling,” he insisted.

“I went to the World Cup to play, to beat the opposition, not to get kicked. The criticism of me was exaggerated, but I’m a big boy, I’m used to dealing with this kind of thing

“And I can’t be the referee and play at the same time, but there are times I wish I could,” he said.

Earlier this week, Neymar took a swipe at his critics with a tongue-in-cheek video in which he teaches children how to fall to the ground.

“One, two, three, go!” shouts Neymar on the Instagram video as around a dozen youngsters fall to the ground of a parking lot.

“That’s a free-kick!” screams the Brazilian breaking into fits of laughter.

The video was released with a hashtag #ChallengeDAFALTA, the free-kick challenge in Portuguese.

During the recent World Cup, the player’s antics sparked the “Neymar Challenge” where he was widely mocked.

In Mexico, a football club even organised a competition in which contestants attempted to roll the entire length of the pitch.

Meanwhile, Neymar described PSG’s new coach Thomas Tuchel as a great addition to the club.

“He’s a great coach and we’re hoping for a great season,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Neymar said of his second season in Paris.

“We have signed a football legend (Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon) who will bring with him all his experience and that will be a great help for this coming season.”


The World Cup may be over but passion for the game burns bright in the world's largest refugee camp, where Brazil and Argentina flags still flutter alongside the red and green of Bangladesh, which hosts nearly a million Rohingya Muslims forced out of Myanmar.

For many young refugees in Bangladesh's southeast this World Cup was their first, and the excitement of last Sunday's final shows no sign of abating any time soon.

Rohingya boys paraded a miniature replica of the World Cup through the dirt alleyways of the refugee camp, the smallest football fans staring dewy-eyed at the modest golden trophy as if it were the real thing.

"My favourite was Argentina. I watched the final. It was between Croatia and France, and France won," said six-year-old Mohammad Reza, proudly sporting the blue-and-white jersey of firm local favourite Lionel Messi.

One of the youngest boys jostling for a glimpse of the miniature cup in its small glass case was five-year-old Nurul Afsar in his Brazil top.

"My favourite player is Neymar," he said shyly, clutching a rubber football.

Many fans crowded around one television to watch the final, said 18-year-old Nurul Abser, pointing to a tarpaulin shack just beyond a dirt clearing where football fans had congregated for an afternoon's play.

Dozens of barefoot boys played under threatening monsoon clouds, dodging muddy potholes to shoot at a goal demarcated with twigs.

An errant strike sent a ball soaring into the huts surrounding the pitch, as a referee blew his whistle at older players contesting the main match.

Apart from the odd Spanish flag or top European club jersey, football loyalties in the remote but overcrowded Kutupalong camp are mainly divided -- fiercely -- between Brazil and Argentina, mirroring a somewhat peculiar obsession among football fans across Bangladesh.

The South American rivalry has been traced back to broadcasts of the 1986 World Cup, when Diego Maradona's brilliance helped Argentina win the trophy -- and legions of fans in Bangladesh, where Brazilian legend Pele was already a household name.

Among the many boys of all ages giving their name as Neymar, one stood out: with his hair bleached in the superstar's signature style, Jahangir Alam bore the closest resemblance to the Brazilian striker, at least in this corner of the camp.

"I like Neymar a lot. That's why I got this hairstyle like him. I enjoyed the tournament," the 17-year-old said, juggling a football in his Brazil jersey.


Neymar took a swipe at his critics on Thursday with a tongue-in-cheek video in which he teaches children how to dive.

The Brazilian superstar was widely lambasted at the World Cup for his theatrical reactions to challenges which often left the world's most expensive footballer wincing and rolling on the ground.

However, on Thursday, he took to Instagram to get his revenge.

"One, two, three, go!" shouts Neymar as around a dozen youngsters fall to the ground of a parking lot.

"That's a free-kick!" screams the Brazilian breaking into fits of laughter.

The video was released with a hashtag #ChallengeDAFALTA, the free-kick challenge in Portuguese.

During the recent World Cup, the player's antics sparked the "Neymar Challenge" where he was widely mocked.

In Mexico, a football club organised a competition in which contestants attempted to roll the entire length of the pitch.


Last year, Qatar's finance minister Ali Sharif Al-Emadi said his country was determined to have everything ready for the 2022 World Cup well before fans started landing in the Gulf.

"We don't want to be painting while people arrive in the country," he said, before going on to reveal Qatar is spending almost $500 million (430 million euros) a week on infrastructure projects for football's biggest tournament.

It is highly unlikely that any visitor to the World Cup is going to see rushed last-minute preparations.

With four and a half years until the 2022 World Cup kicks off, Qatar is ahead of schedule when it comes to venues, related major projects and even paint.

Of the eight stadiums it will build or renovate for 2022, one -- Khalifa International -- is already open and will host the World Athletics Championships next year.

Two more, Al-Wakrah and Al-Bayt stadiums, are expected to be finished by the end of this year and officially opened early in 2019.

Work is also well underway on Lusail Stadium, where the World Cup final and opening game will be played in 2022.

Construction across Doha -- the 2022 World Cup is effectively a one city tournament and the longest distance between venues just 55 kilometres -- progresses despite the Gulf political crisis.

- Swiftly replaced -

In the 13 months since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies froze all relations with Qatar, World Cup organisers have proved resilient.

The embargo, in place since June 5, 2017, cut off the supply of construction materials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but they were swiftly replaced by imports from Malaysia and China.

New roads, hotels, museums, neighbourhoods even towns -- including the estimated $45 billion Lusail -- have been built.

Doha's first metro system, costing $36 billion, is on track to open in 2019.

Qatar expects up to 1.5 million fans to attend in 2022 and they will be housed in a combination of hotels, Airbnb properties, tents and some 12,000 on cruise ships.

Doha has proved very sensitive about accusations there will not be enough hotel spaces with claims it will fall short on the 60,000 hotel rooms FIFA requires a World Cup host nation to provide.

Designated fan zones will be put in place as well as regulated areas where fans can drink.

Qatar, a conservative Muslim country, permits alcohol but only under regulated circumstances.

Where the teams will stay in Qatar -- and if all will stay in Qatar -- for the moment is not clear.

Iran has offered its Kish Island as a base for teams and use of that could depend on the tournament remaining a 32-nation World Cup or if FIFA brings forward plans to increase it to 48 sides.

For security, Qatar will use foreign police officers to try and combat hooliganism, say organisers, as they aim to deliver "the safest World Cup in the world".

British Typhoon fighter jets bought last year by Qatar for $8 billion will help provide security and patrol the skies during the event.


France defender Raphael Varane said his team mate Kylian Mbappe is a young ‘alien’ as he praised the  19-year old sensation for his magnificent performances in Russia that helped France to win their second World Cup after 20 years.

Mbappe scored four goals in the World Cup for France and was awarded the FIFA young player of the tournament. He became the first teenager to score a goal in the World Cup final at the age of 19 since Pele did it playing for Brazil during the 1958 World Cup against Sweden when he was 18 years of age. Mbappe also leveled Pele’s 60-year old World Cup record of scoring two goals in a World Cup match when he scored a brace against Argentina in their 4-3 win against the Albiceleste in the round of 16 stage of the tournament.

The two greats of this generation, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are often dubbed as ‘alien’ for their extraordinary display in the football pitch and Varane who played alongside the former at Real Madrid and faced the latter several times at club-level was quick to recognize another of their kind.

Varane spoke to French newspaper L’Equipe and referred Mbappe as a young ‘alien’ and also praised him for his maturity in understanding the game tactics quickly.

“I’ve met other aliens but I think this is the first time I’ve met a young one!

When I talk to him about tactics, he doesn’t let me finish the sentences. He understands everything so quickly.” told Varane.

The 25-year old defender also mentioned that it gets onto his nerves when he is compared with his club compatriot Sergio Ramos as he said that he has a different style and a character of his own which people need to recognize.

“It drives me mad when they ask me to be like Sergio Ramos. Do they ask him to be like another player? They accept him just the way he is, he’s Ramos. And nowadays it’s accepted and understood that I’m the way I am.” added Varane.

The young defender has pointed to the fact that he’s made it at a club like Real Madrid which demands a lot from any player. “You can't have a career if you don’t have guts, it doesn’t exist, it’s impossible.” Varane has been with Madrid for seven years now.

“I’ve always swam against the tide since I was young. Now you can see my guts now but I’ve always had them.” concluded Varane.

After winning the World Cup with France, the 25-year old centre-back joined an elite group of players to have won the World Cup and the Champions League in the same year. Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller did it in 1974, as did Christian Karembeu, and the Brazilian Roberto Carlos in 2002.


The Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hailed his star man Paul Pogba for his excellent performances in the World Cup 2018 for France that led Les Blues to their second World Cup title after 20 years.

Pogba has been an influencing figure both on and off the pitch for France in Russia. Pogba who netted a wonderful third goal for France in their 4-2 win against Croatia in the final of the tournament has always helped the team with his work rate on the pitch and also with rousing pre-match speeches that boosted the confidence of his team mates and had an impact on their way to the ultimate glory.

However, Pogba faced criticisms prior to his brilliant World Cup campaign due to his poor run of form in the World Cup qualifiers and also at the club level. He was left on the bench for both legs of the Champions League last-16 defeat to Sevilla and was withdrawn during losses to Tottenham and Newcastle United, as speculation mounted over a breakdown in relations with his club manager.

Speaking at his first news conference of United’s pre-season tour of the United States, Mourinho congratulated his star midfielder for his brilliant performances in the World Cup and also said that the 25-year old midfielder needs to ‘understand why’ he did so good with Les Blues in the football extravaganza and hoped he would be able to bring this excellent form into the Premier League playing for Manchester United in the coming season.

“I hope that he understands why he was very good,” Mourinho said.

“I think that’s the point about his performance level and his contribution to a winning team – for him to understand why he was so good, especially in the second part of the competition.

“In the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final he was absolutely brilliant.” Mourinho added.

“To win the World Cup can only be a positive thing. It’s difficult to say that to win the World Cup is not good for a player's career. So many good players never have the change to be a world champion.

“It’s a young [France] team, apart from [Olivier] Giroud, [Hugo] Lloris and a few others they are all young and have more years to play together.

“The future for [Pogba] in the French national team, among that fantastic group of players, can only be brilliant.” Mourinho concluded.


A French court gave two men suspended sentences Wednesday and fined a third for robbery and violence on the sidelines of France's World Cup victory celebrations.

One fan, wearing a shirt of the French football team, was given a six-month suspended sentence for breaking into a Piaggio scooter showroom near the Champs-Elysees boulevard where hundreds of thousands had gathered to welcome home the winning team.

A witness had photographed the suspect sitting on a scooter in the showroom.

The man, a 23-year-old fork lift driver, admitted to the robbery, but denied taking part in any violence, blaming his actions on excessive alcohol.

A 19-year-old student, who was caught stealing sunglasses from a Grand Optical store on the Champs Elysees, was ordered to pay a fine of 1,000 euros ($1,200).

“In the euphoria, everyone converged on the store. I followed. I was stupid,” he told the judge.

A third man was given a three-month suspended sentence for throwing bottles at police officers.

“I don’t know what went through my head. I’m sorry,” he said. He also claimed to have been drunk, even if breathalyser tests had been negative.

Nearly 300 people were arrested across the whole of France on the sidelines of the victory celebrations, with 57 arrests made in Paris, prosecutors said.