For the month of the iconic event, headlines are dominated by World Cup stories and countless related records and statistics.
Below are five things you may not know about the World Cup, unless you’re an absolute soccer fanatic.
1. The million-dollar prize money
The prize money of 2018 World Cup is $38 million, This means that France will take home $38 million in prize money, and Croatia will take home $28 million in prize money.
Of course, France and Croatia are not the only teams who will be taking cash home from the World Cup. All teams that advanced to the group stage receive a minimum $8 million in prize money, as well as $1.5 million to “cover preparation costs.”
2. The Golden boy Modric was impacted by the civil war
The Real Madrid player was only six, when his hometown of Modrici was dragged into a civil war. Modric’s home was burned to the ground.
In December 1991, the Serbian army stormed through his village, executing his grandfather among others. Football helped him forget his pain, with his supportive family sending him to a sporting academy from an early age.
A true champion indeed!
3. THE STAR
Although he did not top the scoring charts (England’s Harry Kane did with six goals), Griezmann, who had four strikes to his name, was instrumental in Les Bleus’ triumph. He did not deem it too dirty a job to harass Croatian defenders in possession. He foraged for the ball and got tackles in.
On the offensive side, his free-kicks and corners are a potent weapon, seen in the opener that led to Mandzukic’s unfortunate own-goal. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in their twilight, perhaps Griezmann, who is 27, can be a future Ballon d’Or nominee.
4. Teamwork is still a vastly underrated concept in football
Great players are fine, but if you’re trying to pick winners, give us a great team any day of the week. Spain, Argentina and Germany were all overhyped going into the tournament despite significant internal ructions that ultimately derailed their campaign.
England produced their best performance in their generation in spite of a squad many regarded as their weakest in a generation. Teamwork helped Belgium, Croatia, Sweden and Japan to outperform both their size and previous tournament pedigree.
5. Croatia’s performance then and now
Before making their way to 2018 final, Croatia’s greatest World Cup achievement was the 3rd place finish in the 1998 edition in France. Notably, it was also their first World Cup appearance.
Interestingly, France knocked them out in the semis and they would be looking to avenge their defeat, this term.
Their lowest point came in 2010, when they didn’t qualify for World Cup.