World Cup 2018 diary: Final fever, Belgium's royal welcome and all aboard the Mbappe train

France's array of superstars fired France to World Cup glory with an emphatic 4-2 win over Croatia,

Hugo Lloris lifts the World Cup trophy to celebrate with his teammates.   -  Getty Images

The World Cup came to a close on Sunday as France and Croatia went toe-to-toe in a thrilling final at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Les Bleus triumphed 4-2 in a game that included an own goal, a penalty awarded after VAR involvement and delay in proceedings due to a pitch invasion.

The carnival atmosphere in the Russian capital was certainly something worth treasuring before it all came to an end, although it remains to be seen if France's national rail company will continue a strange new trend of naming trains after footballers.

Meanwhile, Belgium received a special welcome back at home after finishing third, and Croatia went to impressive lengths to get a few more fans on its side. It only has 4.5million at home, after all.

Here, then, for one last time, are the best bits from Russia that you might not have seen.

READ: France crowned World Champion, beats Croatia 4-2 in final

FIFA'S GLOBAL GAME HAS NEVER LOOKED BETTER

It's very easy to have a cynical approach to FIFA's insistence on the pure power of football to unite people from all four corners of the globe.

It's especially easy to have such a point of view when fans from Croatia, France, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, England and many more countries congregate in good-natured numbers on the walk up to the venue for the final, down a path deliberately lined with sponsor stalls and loud speakers urging visitors to part with their money.

After all, it only happens once every four years.

ROYAL WELCOME FOR BELGIUM

Belgium wanted more than third place at the World Cup, but its supporters have certainly been gracious enough in welcoming the team home.

Roberto Martinez's side, which finished its tournament with a 2-0 win over England on Saturday, returned to Belgium for an open-top bus parade through a cheering crowd of thousands, as could be seen through Eden Hazard's selfie video.

The team even got a personal audience with King Philippe, who seemed at one stage to be deep in conversation with Vincent Kompany, dubbed 'Vince the Prince'.

ALSO READ: Hazard enjoys Belgium's welcome home

CROATIA ENLIST THE NEUTRALS

Croatia, as has been mentioned plenty of times now, is a relatively tiny country of close to 4.5million people.

As impressive as its fans have been in Russia and back at home, there is only so much noise they could hope to make to drown out somewhere in the region of 67m French supporters.

With that in mind, the national team put out a call to arms for neutrals to get behind it ahead of the final, including 10 simple reasons why Croatia deserves such support.

The answers ranged from Luka Modric being great to the fact Croatia invented both the necktie and the torpedo.

USAIN THIS ISN'T MY SPORT?

Usain Bolt has done his best to convince us all a career in football awaits after he grew tired of being the greatest male sprinter in history.

A few Borussia Dortmund training sessions aside, though, his adventure as a top-level player hasn't quite got off to a flyer – much like some of his final 100 metre races, in fact.

However, determined to be part of the game's biggest occasions, Bolt was present for Sunday's World Cup final, looking his usual flashy self.

Imagine the Jamaican on one wing and Kylian Mbappe on the other. That would be exhausting just to watch...

ALSO READ: Mbappe wins World Cup Young Player award

MBAPPE ON TRACK TOWARDS SUCCESS

In case it escaped your attention, Mbappe is quick. Really, really quick.

In fact, the France star is so speedy he has even had a train named after him back in his homeland.

In honour of Les Bleus reaching the World Cup final, the SNCF, France's state-owned railway firm, proclaimed that the high-speed TGV would for one day at least be known as the KGV: the Kylian a Grande Vitesse.

Let's hope the pressure doesn't send him off the rails...

 

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