it started with the world rooting for tiny Iceland.
It ended with the smallest country ever to play in the finals, Croatia, becoming the darlings.
But it was France, it’s firepower, its transition game, its explosiveness, raising the gold trophy in the middle of the pitch, with a dominant (4-2) win over the Croates.
It was a marvelous World Cup tourney, even without Team USA being part of it.
Fox TV did a spectacular job in coverage, play-by-play and in studio analysis.
The fans in the stands, wearing their colors, their hats, their painted faces. How could you not fall in love with the event.
The storylines were everywhere and worth paying attention too.
The noise in the stadium….the roaring mile of crowds watching on big screen televisions in the boulevard around the Eiffel Tower. The players running the field waving French flags. The pictures of the Champs-Elysee providing a memory for a lifetime.
The closing ceremony in the stadium was exceptional, even when the rainclouds opened up.
France, getting huge games from budding superstar Ky Mbappe and the resurgence of its big money international player Paul Pogba coupled with the consistency of Antoine Guetzemann..
Croatia, the former country cut out of the breakup of Yugoslavia, playing with passion and physicality wearing those red-and-white checkered shirts. The pride they will bring to their country, winning seven straight games till the finals. The tears in the eyes of their superstar Modric.
Belgium, with superb play from Romy Lekaku and Eden Hazard, scoring 3-goals in a row in an emotional come from behind win over Japan.
Russia’s run thru the tourney, with home field advantage bringing joy to its beleaguered homeland.
England, rebuilding with youth, with their finest run since 1966, led by Harry Kane and so many players who call the English Premeir League their home base.
There were enormous disappointments along the way.
Lionel Messi scoring just 1-goal for a disappointing Argentine side.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the 3-goal game in the sun, but it ended badly for Portugal.
Brazil heading home knowing their side is not what it used to be, the stain of a 7-1 blowout loss in the last world cup still in their mind.
Mexico came with so much promise, won their group, but you have to believe this was a disappointment for Chicharito and coach Osorio, for this was supposed to be the best team ever El Tri ever suited up. 7-World Cups later, they have never won a knockout game.
Spain was stained by the firing of their coach two days before the Cup began. And Diego Costa did not carry his team as expected.
Uruguay needed more help for Luis Suarez.
There were video replays that led to key goals, proving the VAR system works.
More than 60% of the goals came on corner kicks or set pieces.
10-games were decided in the 90th minute or later, something that never happened before.
And when it was over, France raised the Gold Cup a 2nd time in its storied history. Amid the heavy rain, the confetti and the mud, the flags, and what a dance on the field, iy end joy unmatched.
And we look forward to 2026, when the ‘Beautiful Game’ will come to the US-Canada-Mexico.