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Neymar's theatrics and Brian Kerr's famous punditry - Our writers review the World Cup

Our thoughts following a campaign which saw France come out on top as champions.

Updated at 17.36

France v Croatia - FIFA World Cup 2018 - Final - Luzhniki Stadium France celebrate winning the World Cup. Source: EMPICS Sport

Paul Hosford

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

High: Michy Batshuayi lamping himself with the ball off the post.

Low: Neymar’s antics.

2. Player of the tournament?

Luka Modric. A wonderful display of midfield play.

3. Biggest disappointment?

Argentina. Chaos from the get-go and a squandering of the greatest player of all time.

4. Favourite pundit?

Brian Kerr/Richie Sadlier.

5. Best goal?

Benjamin Pavard v Argentina.

6. Is VAR worth persevering with?

Yes. But only if audiences realise that it won’t fix all of the game’s ills and refs can still be wrong.

Fintan 0′Toole

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

High: The second-half of Belgium Japan – underdogs go ahead 2-0, Fellaini comes on as the saviour and a brilliant counter-attacking goal in the last minute wins it for Belgium.

Low: Neymar against Mexico, an embarrassment.

2. Player of the tournament?

Kylian Mbappe. To sparkle so much and contribute key goals at the age of 19 is quite a feat. Luka Modric a close second.

3. Biggest disappointment?

Germany. At least Spain could point to the pre-tournament chaos caused by a managerial change. The 2014 champions had no excuse for mounting such a weak defence of their title.

4. Favourite pundit?

Brian Kerr for his painstaking research of every game he was analysing.

5. Best goal? Kevin de Bruyne v Brazil. A foot like a traction engine.

Sinéad Farrell

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

Highlight – Edinson Cavani’s performance against Portugal was superb. His two goals were obviously excellent but in addition to the work he did up front, his defensive display was equally impressive.

Watching him hobble off the pitch after putting in such an admirable shift was a heartbreaking sight.

Lowlight – Neymar’s ridiculous dive against Mexico. It was truly stomach-churning stuff.

2. Player of the tournament?

Kylian Mbappé

3. Biggest disappointment?

The Germans for their poor showing as defending champions.

4. Favourite pundit?

Brian Kerr. His witty commentary will be an enduring memory from this World Cup tournament.

5. Best goal?

The peach from Pavard.

6. Is VAR worth persevering with?

Yes but I would like to see the process revised a bit. I don’t think it’s practical for the referee to have to run off the pitch to review incidents on a screen at the sideline.

Similar to how they operate in rugby, I would like to see VAR incidents assessed on the pitch on a big screen. It’s a much more efficient system in my view.

Eoin Lúc Ó’Ceallaigh

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

Highlight – Argentina v France last-16 tie was the most entertaining match, I thought. A couple of lovely goals from Di Maria and especially Benjamin Pavard’s made it the highlight of the tournament for me.

Lowlight -The roly-poly throw man. Cringe worthy.

2. Player of the tournament?

I thought Eden Hazard was phenomenal for Belgium. If he’d made it to the final I think he would have pipped Modric for the Golden Ball.

3. Biggest disappointment?

I felt bad for N’golo Kanté having a rough game yesterday when he’s been solid all tournament.

4. Favourite pundit?

You can’t really beat Keano, can you?

5. Best goal?

Imago 20180630 Source: Imago/PA Images

It’s a toss up between Nacho Monreal and Benjamin Pavard. I’d give it to Nacho seeing as his hit off the post on the way in.

6. Is VAR worth persevering with?

I think it is if referees are taught how to use it right. I thought referees still made bad calls after looking at the replays. If it could be used as efficiently as the TMO in rugby I think it’d be a huge asset to refs.

Ben Blake

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

Apart from Michy Batshuayi celebrating Belgium’s goal against England by blasting the ball at his own face via the post and a worse-for-wear Diego Maradona flipping the bird, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Manuel Neuer comically robbed of possession in South Korea’s half, allowing Son Heung-min to score into an empty net after the German keeper had decided to take matters into his own hands with an almighty blunder.

In terms of low points, Neymar’s theatrics and embarrassing behaviour throughout the tournament leaves a sour taste from a player who should have been lighting it up.

2. Player of the tournament?

I’d have to give it to Croatia’s captain and leader Luka Modric but France’s N’Golo Kante was immense from start to finish along with compatriot Raphael Varane.

Special mentions for two players I knew little about before this summer — Colombia’s towering defender Yerry Mina and Russian goal hero Denis Cheryshev.

Moscow, 23.06.2018, firo, football, international, national team, world cup 2018 in Russia, Russia, world cup 2018 in Russia ,, World Cup 2018 Russia, Russia, M27, Germany - Sweden Jogi Loew Source: DPA/PA Images

3. Biggest disappointment?

The Germans. Winners four years ago and one of the pre-tournament favourites, Jogi Loew’s side flattered to deceive and finished bottom of Group F after a woeful showing in their three matches.

4. Favourite pundit?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve got a lot of love for Brian Kerr.

5. Best goal?

The pass from Ever Banega followed by two exquisite touches and the clinical finish puts Lionel Messi’s strike against Nigeria out in front for me.

Identical efforts from Benjamin Pavard and Nacho, the counter attack finished off by Nacer Chadli and Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp free-kick all stood out too though.

6. Is VAR worth persevering with?

Yes, although there is plenty of room to improve how it works.

Seán Farrell

1. Highlight and lowlight of the tournament?

Source: VarianTR/YouTube

World Cups are all about moments, creating instantly iconic images that will forever be seared in your memory.

I’m not sure whether Milad Mohammadi’s attempted acrobatic throw in as Iran pushed for a 94th minute historic equaliser against Spain was a highlight or a lowlight, but it was supremely entertaining.

Spain also featured in a definite highlight early on, as their group game against Portugal turned out to be an absolute sensational watch – despite all expectations to the contrary – from start to thrilling finish.

2. Player of the tournament?

Tough to argue with the official award to Luka Modric, who was the heartbeat of a team who had to work extremely hard through the easy side of the draw. But the special little touches from Kylian Mbappe throughout the tournament managed to turn a pretty solid French team into an irresistible force.

3. Biggest disappointment?

The way England’s last 16 clash with Colombia unfolded, I couldn’t help wonder what difference James Rodriguez would have made in that game, because they looked capable of great things – albeit against a poor Polish side – when he was on the field in the group stage.

Imago 20180716 Source: Imago/PA Images

4. Favourite pundit?

Does Brian Kerr count as a co-commentator. He brings great insight and colour. It gets a wee bit too much when he leans into his Kerr-isms, but his love of the game and relentless search for more and more football knowledge from all corners of the globe shines through.

5. Best goal?

Nacho.

Beautiful deft strike, it flew straight as an arrow and to cap it all he hit both bloody posts. Gorgeous.

6. Is VAR worth persevering with?

Yeah, the handball penalty against Croatia was extremely harsh (a referee’s call when it came down to it) and some of the stoppages were a little galling but if the referee and Var team can better communicate why decisions are being made then people can be more confident in the whole process.

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