The World Cup that nobody wanted to end has finally come to a close and we couldn’t be more gutted. Whatever you think of Russia, nobody can deny that they have put on an incredible show. It’s been a sheer feast of football and we’re now left scratching around to fill the void before our club’s get back underway in August. All we can do now is reflect on the big lessons we’ve learnt this summer…

1) Loud kits are back

World Cup’s are often remembered by the great matches, great goals and great players who graced the pitch. One of the most distinctive features of this year’s tournament has been the eye-catching array of kits on show. Recent tournaments have seen kit makers going for more classic and under-stated looks however this year that was turned on its head. The most notable being the Nigerian offering from Nike which sent their supporters into a frenzy. The shirt was sold out by its release date on the 1st of June after receiving 3 million pre-orders. adidas went for similarly extravagant designs, particularly for Colombia and Belgium.

Before the tournament we gave you the low down on the best kits on show in Russia. Check it out by clicking here.

belgium nigeria colombia kits

2) England can take penalties

One of the big stories to come out of the Three Lions admirable run to the Semi-final was their first EVER World Cup penalty shootout victory. It was a particularly personal victory for Gareth Southgate, who heartbreakingly missed the deciding penalty during the Euro 96 Semi-final. England looked composed and determined during their shootout against the Colombians, with Kane, Trippier, Rashford and Dier all lashing home with ease. Praise also should go to Jordan Pickford who pulled off an unbelievable stop to deny Bacca. In total England scored an impressive 7 times from the spot in Russia.

What a special night! Love this team! Roll on Saturday 🦁🦁🦁

A post shared by Kieran Trippier (@ktrippier2) on

3) We still don’t know who the GOAT is

The Ronaldo/Messi debate has been causing arguments and ending friendships for getting close to a decade now. This summer was supposed to be the tournament that ended the debate, with the player who dragged their respective, otherwise average, squads the furthest. There has always been those who are die hards in both camps but for those of us who sit on the fence we’re no closer to deciding on the GOAT (greatest of all time if you aren’t down with the kids). Ronaldo beat Messi in the goal scoring stakes but neither player made it to the latter stages, both crashing out in the last 16.

messi world cup

4) England have new heroes

When Gareth Southgate was appointed after the Allardyce pint of wine fiasco, it’s safe to say that most of us were left feeling a little underwhelmed. Best part of 20 months later, we are all hailing him as the saviour of English football and sales of waistcoats are through the roof. It wasn’t just on the pitch where England won us over. The media were granted unprecedented access to the players, which was a master stroke in garnering support from the public back home. We found out that they are just normal lads who wanted England to be successful just as much as us, immediately shattering the pampered millionaire image that had been generated by their predecessors. The likes of Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford and Kieran Trippier have become unlikely household names and will be sure to receive rapturous receptions when they return to Premier League duties. Ultimately it came to a heartbreaking end and left fans thinking “what if?” but Southgate and the boys took us on a journey that we haven’t been on in the living memory of a lot of those watching. England fans can dare to dream again…

stones walker jesse

5) VAR was largely a success, but still a work in progress

It still has its doubters and it probably always will but it’s safe to say that VAR has not been the unmitigated disaster that many anticipated. After all, it helped knock out the German’s…

Chairman of the FIFA refereeing committee Pierluigi Collina is certainly very happy with his new toy- “We have always said that VAR doesn’t mean perfection – there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake – but I think you would agree that 99.3% is very close to perfection”. The aforementioned Germany vs South Korea match was one of VAR’s biggest moments. Another was during Iran vs Spain, when half the population of Iran were celebrating an unlikely equaliser by the corner flag, only to be left heartbroken when the goal was correctly ruled out by VAR. The Premier League already ruled out the use of VAR for the upcoming season before the World Cup. This now looks like a somewhat hasty and regrettable decision.

world cup VAR

That’s our review on the big talking points post-World Cup. What do you think have been the key successes and failures this summer? Let us know your thoughts.

Prior to England’s World Cup elimination, we put together our team of the tournament (so far) and it prompted some heated debate. Click here to check it out. Who do you think has played their way into the team in the final matches?