The year 2018 was an eventful international football year that was capped by the recent sacking of Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho.
United then appointed the club’s former striker Ole Gunner Solskjaer as care-taker manager until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Belgium will begin 2019 at the top of the FIFA World Ranking, having preserved their single-point lead over France at the table’s summit and emerged as the ranking’s Team of the Year.
The embarrassing 3-1 defeat in the English Premiership against log leaders Liverpool finally sealed the fate of Mourinho — or the “The Special One” — in December.
The defeat left Man United in sixth place on the log, 19 points behind Liverpool — their worst start to a season in 28 years.
Mourinho’s refusal to select Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial on Sunday is rumoured to have been the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
Belgium will begin 2019 at the top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, having preserved their single-point lead over France at the table’s summit and emerged as the ranking’s Team of the Year.
Despite winning the the 2018 World Cup, Les Bleus failed to clinch the award for Team of the Year.
However, their stellar 2018 performance has not gone unnoticed.
They won the Mover of the Year award, having gained more points during this calendar year than any other nation — 165 in total.
The French lead that particular table ahead of Uruguay and Kosovo, who have registered net gains of 151 and 133 points respectively.
The Kosovans, meanwhile, are the biggest climbers in terms of ranking places, having moved up 46 places since this time last year, comfortably ahead of the respective 31- and 30-places rises registered by Kuwait and El Salvador.
The 2018 was definitely a thrilling affair with France the deserved winners of the FIFA World Cup held in Russia.
France — led by Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe and moulded into a coherent unit by coach Didier Deschamps — dazzled in a 4-2 victory over a technically gifted Croatia in the final.
The tournament, dubbed the “greatest World Cup ever” by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, had kicked off in style with the hosts’ 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s Russia certainly surpassed expectations by reaching the quarter-finals, seeing off 2010 winners Spain in the last-16 on penalties.
Tipped as one of the favourites, Spain had imploded days before their first match, sacking coach Julen Lopetegui after he had agreed to become Real Madrid manager after the tournament, replacing him with Fernando Hierro.
Spain at least fared better than defending champions Germany, who were dumped out in the opening round for the first time since 1938 following a 2-0 defeat by South Korea.
While there were some superb individual performances, most notably by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Croatia’s Luka Modric, the star of the tournament was arguably not a player, but the video assistant referee or VAR.
Many had greeted FIFA’s decision to approve the technology for the tournament back in March with a degree of scepticism.
Yet VAR went on to be a success, making crucial decisions and overturning injustices, while adding an extra layer of drama to proceedings.
The play-acting antics of Brazil’s Neymar could not escape the camera’s forensic lens, while Germany’s fate was sealed when the VAR correctly overturned an offside decision in the lead up to a South Korean goal.
VAR even made an intervention in the highest scoring final in the tournament’s history, helping to award a penalty to France, a record 29th in the tournament, scored by Griezmann.