• Michael Marsden

Advanced English: World Cup review

Here's the last of the advanced-level exercises on the subject of the football World Cup, which finished last Sunday with victory in the final for France. In 15 places in the text there are three words to choose between, only one of which is correct. See below for the answers.


The 2018 World Cup in Russia, which finished last weekend, is widely judged to have been a success. There were lots of entertaining / entertained / entertainment matches, no major problems with structures / infrastructure / infrastructures or security, and the hundreds of thousands of visiting audience / fans / public generally seemed to enjoy themselves and to find the local people friendly and welcoming / hospitalised / greeting. In that sense the moody / dreading / gloomy predictions before the tournament, mostly about supposed Russian hooliganism and racism, seem to have been unfounded.

But in the months preceding the tournament, the generally negative portrayal of Russia in the midia / medias / media seemed to have dissuaded many fans of European teams from making the trip. That is probably part of the reason why the fans of the western European teams were outnumbered / overpopulated / downsized by South Americans, whose journey to Russia was obviously much longer. Indeed, the presence in the stadiums of masses of boisterous Argentinians, Peruvians, Brazilians, Colombians and Uruguayans was a memorable feature of the competition.

As for the football, there was one big difference between the games in this World Cup and those in every previous tournament / tourney / tour: they were interrupted whenever the referee consulted the 'video assistant referee' (VAR) so as to be able to watch incidents again before making a decision. VAR divides opinion: there are those who say it spoils the rhythm of a game and will never eliminate human error entirely, and others who insist that it significantly reduces the number of wrong decisions made by referees and that the interruptions will become shorter as referees become more accustomed / customised / actualised to the system. Judging by the opinions of football journalists and fans on TV, in newspapers and on social media, the positive feedback for VAR probably outweighed the negative.

It is probably true to say that there was no upstanding / outstanding / big-standing team in this World Cup; no team that played significantly better football than all its rivals. But that was also true of most previous World Cups; arguably you would have to go back to the Brazilian team in the 1982 World Cup or the Dutch team of 1974 to find clear examples of 'moral' champions - and ironically neither of those teams actually lifted the trophy.

Most commentators agree that France were worthing / worthy / worthwhile champions - a highly organised team who worked hard for each other, defended competently, counter-attacked with great speed, and in 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé had probably the most exciting player in the competition. Mbappé became the second youngest player to mark / register / score in a World Cup final when he grabbed his team's fourth goal in their 4-2 victory over Croatia. The youngest ever scorer was the great Pelé, who was 17 when he got two of Brazil's five goals in the 1958 final.

The final was not the only memorable game: for example France's 4-3 victory over Argentina in the second round will also longer / linger / langer in the memory, as will Belgium's 2-1 defeat of Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The over-achievers of this World Cup were definitely Russia, who were widely expected to flap / flip / flop embarrassingly in front of their home crowd but instead reached the quarter-finals, and Croatia, who were known to have a few excellent players but were not expected to get so close to winning the competition.

The under-achievers were Germany, the champions of 2014 who failed to get beyond / over / above the initial group stage this time, and Spain, who were unable to penetrate Russia's massed defence and lost to the host nation in a penalty shootout.


Answers below...



So, how did you do?


The 2018 World Cup in Russia, which finished last weekend, is widely judged to have been a success. There were lots of entertaining matches, no major problems with infrastructure or security, and the hundreds of thousands of visiting fans generally seemed to enjoy themselves and to find the local people friendly and welcoming. In that sense the gloomy predictions before the tournament, mostly about supposed Russian hooliganism and racism, seem to have been unfounded.

But in the months preceding the tournament, the generally negative portrayal of Russia in the media seemed to have dissuaded many fans of European teams from making the trip. That is probably part of the reason why the fans of the western European teams were outnumbered by South Americans, whose journey to Russia was obviously much longer. Indeed, the presence in the stadiums of masses of boisterous Argentinians, Peruvians, Brazilians, Colombians and Uruguayans was a memorable feature of the competition.

As for the football, there was one big difference between the games in this World Cup and those in every previous tournament: they were interrupted whenever the referee consulted the 'video assistant referee' (VAR) so as to be able to watch incidents again before making a decision. VAR divides opinion: there are those who say it spoils the rhythm of a game and will never eliminate human error entirely, and others who insist that it significantly reduces the number of wrong decisions made by referees and that the interruptions will become shorter as referees become more accustomed to the system. Judging by the opinions of football journalists and fans on TV, in newspapers and on social media, the positive feedback for VAR probably outweighed the negative.

It is probably true to say that there was no outstanding team in this World Cup; no team that played significantly better football than all its rivals. But that was also true of most previous World Cups; arguably you would have to go back to the Brazilian team in the 1982 World Cup or the Dutch team of 1974 to find clear examples of 'moral' champions - and ironically neither of those teams actually lifted the trophy.

Most commentators agree that France were worthy champions - a highly organised team who worked hard for each other, defended competently, counter-attacked with great speed, and in 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé had probably the most exciting player in the competition. Mbappé became the second youngest player to score in a World Cup final when he grabbed his team's fourth goal in their 4-2 victory over Croatia. The youngest ever scorer was the great Pelé, who was 17 when he got two of Brazil's five goals in the 1958 final.

The final was not the only memorable game: for example France's 4-3 victory over Argentina in the second round will also linger in the memory, as will Belgium's 2-1 defeat of Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The over-achievers of this World Cup were definitely Russia, who were widely expected to flop embarrassingly in front of their home crowd but instead reached the quarter-finals, and Croatia, who were known to have a few excellent players but were not expected to get so close to winning the competition.

The under-achievers were Germany, the champions of 2014 who failed to get beyond the initial group stage this time, and Spain, who were unable to penetrate Russia's massed defence and lost to the host nation in a penalty shootout.


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