grant wahl

day nineteen

Morocco-Portugal. It's safe to say I didn't expect to see Morocco advancing as the first African team to make the semi-finals in the World Cup. They have only allowed one goal in five matches (and that was an own goal). They aren't the most exciting team, although their fans are a lot of fun. Moroccan goalkeeper Bono has been great, and Portugal somehow never looked like scoring even though they dominated possession.

England-France. A wonderful match. England has nothing to be ashamed of ... they came within a missed penalty of taking the defending champs into extra time. And they have a lot to look forward to ... Saka and Bellingham were their best players on the pitch. But France just has too much ... Griezmann and his two assists, Giroud and Tchouaméni with the goals, Lloris in goal. Even an off-game-for-him Mbappé didn't stop the French.

A continuation of a theme: players I mentioned at the beginning of the competition ... did I know what I was talking about?

Portugal: A sad goodbye for the 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who has likely played his last World Cup game. He was relegated to the bench for the last two matches, and only managed one goal. Rafael Leão came off the bench in all five matches, and scored two goals. Nuno Mendes only played 42 minutes before being injured.

England: Harry Kane. He'll be remembered for the penalty miss, and that's not fair. He had an excellent tournament, with 2 goals, 3 assists, and at least 3 excellent matches.  Jude Bellingham (19) and Bukayo Saka (21) are stars of the future. Bellingham might have been England's best player overall, and the only reason Saka wasn't the best is that he missed the Wales match.