Can we have the World Cup script writers for the upcoming A-League season?

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    If anyone expected to tune in to the World Cup final and watch a clinical and professional French victory against a battered, bruised and tired Croatia, how disappointed they must have been.

    After 64 matches with only one scoreless draw; amidst upsets, unpredictability and Croatia’s stunning run to the final, the World Cup delivered in spades.

    If the finale didn’t bring a smile to your face from go to whoa you are most likely French or Croatian and were far too caught up in supporting your colours. For those of us not too fussed about the ultimate winner, the last day of competition did exactly what it should and entertained from start to finish.

    I’m not sure who the script writers were but their sense of drama was spot on, even before the opening whistle.

    To whet the appetite, Will Smith was “gettin’ jiggy with it” in the pre-game. Personally, I never in my life expected to see the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as the pre-game entertainment at a World Cup, but there you go.

    It was a pre-cursor to some of the unexpected that was to follow and somewhat symbolic of the surprises that had already played out over the last month.

    Interestingly, Croatia settled quickly and after fifteen minutes looked far more likely than the French. Clear cut chances aside, the plan was simple. Denying the French rhythm while playing out from the back and turning the ball over in the Croatian attacking third might not be some revolutionary new age strategy.

    However, it did appear to catch the French a little on the hop and with the Croatian press prepared to take a rough and tumble approach, it was a physical start to the contest.

    Ivan Perisic

    Ivan Perisic of Croatia (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

    With only a brief Kylian Mbappe incision into the box, Les Bleus had little to celebrate early, until an own goal in the 18th minute from the head of Mario Mandzukic.

    After the World Cup we have had, there was little chance the writers would allow this final to slip into mediocrity with a disciplined French defensive performance for the next seventy minutes. When the captain of the Croatian submarine bellowed “up Perisic”, Ivan the midfielder was on cue with a stunning strike from distance to equalise in the 28th minute.

    The ongoing script was to mess with the minds of many. Perisic was to be one of the key victims of it and when a stray left hand made contact with the sphere in the box, Antoine Griezmann neatly finished from the spot ten minutes later.

    It was VAR assisted, and the architects who drew up the storyline were poignant in presenting the technology as efficient, effective and reliable. With so much fear around the world, who could have thought that it would all have worked a treat when needed the most?

    It was foreshadowed in the television coverage prior to kick-off. Footage of the toss of the coin, exchange of pleasantries, handshakes all round and then a cut away to the VAR booth. It was almost like some sort of boast from FIFA and they should be pleased in the most part with the contribution of VAR; it was far from a disaster.

    With an own goal, a penalty and a stunner from Perisic to flavour the first half, along with a bit of VAR thrown in, the script had everything. Surely that would be enough?

    No sir! Paul Pogba’s stunner in the 59th minute was a masterclass in ambidextrous artistry, as his blocked right foot strike was followed by the pure and instinctive use of his left to find the net.

    France World Cup

    France players celebrate (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

    Perhaps the only missing ingredient to that point had been the impact of some new and deliciously exciting youngster, destined to play a key role in world football for the next decade.

    Enter Mbappe, who found space outside the area and scored with a low and powerful strike to the keeper’s right.

    Now in full swing, the French appeared destined for greatness yet quirkily, Mandzukic found the net for a second time, at the same end, after a goal-keeping catastrophe from Hugo Lloris.

    The gloveman must have been looking for a hole in which to hide after failing to tidy up the most simple of scenarios.

    It made for a nervous final 20 minutes for the French and despite Luka Modric doing everything to provide one final restoration of hope to the Croatian cause, it was not to be.

    The second half added the genius of Pogba, a goal-keeping howler and the birth of a star to the chaos of the first 45 minutes.

    Throw in a pitch invasion by four members of the Pussy Riot protest group and the rather entertaining Nestor Pitana who ‘thumps upped’ his way through the game quite well and every possible box was ticked by those responsible for concocting the storyline.

    One day, we might all reflect on the final and say, ‘they don’t write ‘em like that anymore’.

    My lasting memory will be Antoine Griezmann; emotional, in tears and shock. Despite notoriety, his contract renewal with Atletico Madrid and considerable personal income, he was overcome.

    He had just won the World Cup in the most incredible of finals and when all is said and done, that is what it was all about.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • Roar Rookie

      July 17th 2018 @ 6:12am
      Waz said | July 17th 2018 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      If the FFA has been writing the World Cup script we would have had a $3m “guest marquee fund” bringing in someone everyones heard of but isn’t quite sure deserves a place all the same; all squads would have had 23 players apart from one that would have been allowed 24 to accomodate said marquee; and Usain Bolt would have made a special guest appearance …. oh, and Croatia would have been forced to change their name as it’s too Eff-Nik sounding.

      If the World Cup script thought us anything it’s let the football do the talking, take the artificial constraints and the external manipulation off and let teams go for it. If anything, the WC just reminded us that the A League needs new script writers, surely??

      • July 17th 2018 @ 8:04am
        Fadida said | July 17th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        FFA already copping flak over Bolt? You’re quicker off the mark than Bolt Waz.

        I would have thought that Bolt coming to the A-league would be a “new script” given the publicity it will bring?

        I stand to be corrected, but City still had a 23 man squad with the Cahill “rule” did they not?

        • Roar Rookie

          July 17th 2018 @ 1:52pm
          Waz said | July 17th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          I recon if Bolt played at Suncorp in R1 we’d get another 5-10,000 on the gate. But is it worth it? The answer depends on how good the bloke is with a ball at his feet?

          FFA bashing? Surely the script that has played out over the last five years is worthy of a bit of bashing. No one can be happy with the current state of the game (or is it all Mike Tuckermans fault for writing naughty articles on a Monday morning???)

          • July 17th 2018 @ 2:27pm
            Fadida said | July 17th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

            No one is suggesting all is well but it’s a trial, nothing to lose. If he’s rubbish CCM won’t take him. If he’s good enough then it’s massive publicity win.

            I can only imagine that if he turns out to be ok( which I doubt), and he’s picked up by a J-league team, FFA would be criticized the lacking the foresight to go for him.

            I didn’t mention Mike

    • July 17th 2018 @ 8:34am
      Kangas said | July 17th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Stuart

      We already had the script where controversial var decisions effect grand final results.

      • July 17th 2018 @ 9:42am
        MQ said | July 17th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Damn, you got there first.

        I’ll word it another way.

        ” Can we have the World Cup script writers for the upcoming A-League season? ”

        More goals from set pieces, handball pens decided by VAR and own goals??

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2018 @ 10:10am
        Stuart Thomas said | July 17th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Personally, I didn’t see that as a controversy in any way shape or form. I know there are varying opinions but I had no real issue with it.

      • Roar Guru

        July 18th 2018 @ 1:20pm
        Cousin Claudio said | July 18th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

        Lets blame the FFA and VAR for Global Warming too.

        The controversy of the Victory no-goal in the grand final was because of human error – not VAR.
        The deaf dumb and blind linesman standing right in line with play missed a blatant offside goal.

        The issue was a technical one that VAR wasn’t working at that critical time, which seemed very suspicious to me.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 17th 2018 @ 9:59am
      At work said | July 17th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

      Hmm judging by the early responses this could turn into a good old fashion FFA bashing Stuart.

      Anyway thanks for the read.

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2018 @ 10:12am
        Stuart Thomas said | July 17th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        I was intent of steering clear of Bolt after seeing some of the nonsense that appeared in print yesterday across the nation.

    • July 17th 2018 @ 10:28am
      Probably said | July 17th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Except Sydney United 58 would be written out of the script!

    • July 17th 2018 @ 7:58pm
      Jim Knight said | July 17th 2018 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

      Regarding the handball for the penalty, the question wasn’t did the ball hit the hand as it did as shown by the VAR but, was it deliberate? This is something that can’t be decided by the VAR and was really not clear since the referee took so long to decide.

      The law should be rewritten to take that ambiguity away. If the ball hits the hand or arm and it blocks a shot or pass, or helps a player gain or retain control of the ball it should be a foul with a free kick, or if in the box a penalty, awarded. If the referee deems it to be deliberate then a booking should be administered. No need to decide if it was deliberate in the first place. Let’s make the referee’s job a little easier. Might even get us more goals!

      • July 18th 2018 @ 11:52am
        Don Innes said | July 18th 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        How it could be revisited seems odd. Was the initial decision (not to issue a penalty) a clear and obvious error?
        It wasn’t. The VAR went in a different direction than its guidelines. They actually overrode the referee. His continued looking, and re-looking was all prompted.

        Had the ball been prohibited from entering the goal, sure.

        Otherwise play on.

      • Roar Guru

        July 18th 2018 @ 1:23pm
        Cousin Claudio said | July 18th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        The handball rule is very simple – if the hand is moving towards the ball when it srikes the hand its a free kick or penalty.

        VAR picked that up superbly – then it was simply a human being’s decision about whether to award a penalty or not.

        VAR DOES NOT AWARD PENALTIES.

        • July 18th 2018 @ 1:44pm
          Don Innes said | July 18th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          No one suggested VAR does.

          It wasn’t a clear and obvious error.

          VAR intervened.

          Plus the hand wasn’t moving towards the ball. That is an entirely subjective assessment. PARTICULARLY as the ball came off an attacker in very F close range.

          It was a bad use of VAR, and it turned a WC final. No business interjecting. First decision play on.

          • Roar Guru

            July 18th 2018 @ 5:10pm
            Cousin Claudio said | July 18th 2018 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

            The 7 referees who reviewed the situation don’t agree with you.
            The decision cannot be reversed, move on.

            VAR is a tool to assist referees, not a “thing” to be blamed every time you don’t agree with the decision made by a human referee.

            • July 18th 2018 @ 6:12pm
              Don Innes said | July 18th 2018 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

              Claudio, you are conflating two separate and distinct issues – conveniently.

              I thought only one referee reviewed HIS decision. He did this with the Assistance of four VAR officials whose names and country of origin was provided at the outset.

              However, his original decision was no penalty. That was correct.

              So VAR embarked on a review, then influenced the referee to consider changing his mind. Yet that review SHOULD have resulted in This Isn’t a Clear Case of Obvious Error….AND that advice SHOULD have been conveyed to the center.

              I would remind you, I “agree with the decision made by a human referee”, THE REAL TIME, FIRST INSTANCE one – and I even agree that VAR is potentially capable of being a benefit overall, BUT this instance was a big fail.

              AND it will be remembered for changing the course of a WC final.

              • July 19th 2018 @ 2:15pm
                Kangas said | July 19th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                Definite fail

                Was not clear and obvious error

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