Luka Modric named adidas Golden Ball Award winner despite Final defeat
Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois picks up the adidas Golden Glove Award
France’s Kylian Mbappe collects FIFA Young Player Award
Prior to seeing France lift the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy, the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) came together to decide where the Russia 2018 awards should go.
Croatia owed their place in the Final in large part to their supremely gifted No10. His two goals and one assist almost pale in comparison to his tireless work in the midfield, where he used his incisive vision to great effect in guiding his team, setting the tempo, and exploiting gaps in opposition defences. He proved equally effective in the Final, dictating the pace as Croatia made a fast start to the match.
Belgium owed their historic third place as much to the imperious Courtois as their incisive front line and tenacious defence. The imposing keeper made the most of his large frame and outstanding reflexes to come to his side’s rescue time and again. Beaten only once by eventual champions France in the semi-finals, he turned in another commanding performance in the play-off for third place.
The teenage prodigy did not disappoint in his first world finals. The 19-year-old drew gasps of admiration from the watching world with his bursts of acceleration and searing pace. In putting two goals past Argentina he became the youngest scorer of a brace in a World Cup knockout match since Pele in 1958, while his strike in the Final sealed victory for Les Bleus.
Belgium boasted the most prolific attack of the tournament, scoring 16 goals thanks in no small part to the peerless Eden Hazard, who wreaked havoc in opposition defences with his bursts of speed and his silky running on the ball. With his two assists and three goals, one of them coming in the match for third place against England, he was the main architect of Belgium’s historic third place.
The Atletico Madrid front man played a leading role in his side’s tournament triumph, scoring four goals and setting up another two, the best performance by a France player since Just Fontaine scored 13 goals at Sweden 1958. “My role has changed. If I score that’s great, but it’s not the most important thing,” said the left-footed striker before the Final, where his dead-ball skills helped Les Bleus win the day.
Harry Kane provided proof, if it were needed, that he is one of the best finishers in the business, helping to fire England to their best finish since Italy 1990. The Tottenham striker made a fast start to the tournament with a double against Tunisia and a hat-trick against Panama before converting from the spot against Colombia in the Round of 16.
With his brace in Belgium’s opener against Panama and another goal against Tunisia, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed the perfect start to the competition, though the goals dried up for him in the knockout phase.
While Spain had a disappointing World Cup, exiting the tournament in the last 16 against hosts Russia, they can take some satisfaction from their exemplary behaviour on the pitch, where they picked up just two yellow cards in their four matches and committed a mere 34 fouls.