Ranking World Cup goals: June 21 and June 22, 2018

Russia World Cup Logo

“The Beautiful Game” is more than just goals, but we at The Bat Flip really like goals. This semi-ambitious project will take every goal scored during the 2018 World Cup and rank them daily, with a master list compiled at the end of the tournament.

A few things to consider when figuring your proper dosages of salt grains:

  • Importance of the goal may supersede beauty.
  • Penalty kicks will be considered on a case-to-case basis.
  • Shootout goals will only be ranked if they were the match-winners, or if some absurd act made the goal possible.

Now let’s rank some goals from Friday’s match play:

All but one of Friday’s seven goals came in the second half of whatever game was being contested. Some even waited until the 90th minute (or beyond) to locate their glory. Drama is fun. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:

June 22, 2018

No. 7 – Alexsander Mitrovic – Serbia vs. Switzerland

This was Friday’s only first-half goal, and it carried the lowest impact of anything on Friday. It’s kind of a shame, because the turning header in the fifth minute of Serbia’s eventual 2-1 loss to Switzerland was visually pleasing enough. But style only gets you so far some days. 

No. 6 – Granit Xhaka – Switzerland vs. Serbia

After Xherdan Shakiri’s initial try was blocked halfway to Finland, Granit Xhaka coolly strode up to this loose ball and fired a screamer by Vladimir Stojkovic. It was the second Swiss equalizer in two matches and it set up the scene for the day’s eventual No. 1 goal. 

No. 5 – Philippe Coutinho – Brazil vs. Costa Rica

It took more than 90 minutes for Brazil to crack a valiant Costa Rica side, but the inevitable happened as Brazil created some chaos in the 18 with Philippe Coutinho finishing with a capable shot from close range. Nowhere near as pretty as his marker on Sunday, but few goals in this tournament have been.

No. 4 – Neymar Jr. – Brazil vs. Costa Rica

This little flick-job was a cherry on top, and a potential goal-differential helper for Brazil. In the seventh minute of stoppage time – a period that started with both teams staring at a zero on the board. With Costa Rica feeling a touch demoralized, Douglas Costa worked with the ball in the 18 before a short cross to Neymar. All Neymar needed to do was guide the ball into a yawning net.

No. 3 – Ahmed Musa (2) – Nigeria vs. Iceland

This was an EA Sports “FIFA” goal. The ability of Ahmed Must to switch directions multiple times before sending a ball into a gaping net wrapped up a win for Nigeria against a very game Iceland side.  A result against reeling Argentina and Nigeria is through to the knockouts, pending some sort of epic blowout win by Iceland.

No. 2 – Ahmed Musa (1) – Nigeria vs. Iceland

The coordination to pull off such a goal is well beyond the capability of anyone on staff at The Bat Flip. But Ahmed Musa’s first-touch from a Victor Moses cross in the 18 to control against Iceland was so skilled … Like … Just watch it.

No. 1 – Xherdan Shaqiri – Switzerland vs. Serbia

So, Xherdan Shaqiri takes control at midfield. Sprints far enough to elude Serbia’s Dusko Tosic and send a ball by Vladimir Stojkovic. Shaqiri then commemorated the goal by going full Brandi Chastain in celebration. Those three points are worth the discarded jersey if you’re a Switzerland backer, I suppose.

Blogger’s note: Dealing with a recently spayed kitten turned out to be a tremendous drain of time and focus. While a day late, revel in the ranking of Thursday’s goals.  

Now let’s rank some goals from Thursday’s match play:

So, not the most amazing day for the non-U.S. favorite side of this blogger, which verifies that soccer is pain. This isn’t ranking a writer’s pain, though. As we’ll do every day during the tournament, it’s a countdown to No. 1 …:

June 20, 2018

No. 6 – Mile Jedinak – Australia vs. Denmark

This goal allowed Australia to snag a point in a way that doesn’t exactly whelm. Mile Jedinak sends a shot to the left of Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichelm, and with it … The Socceroos won’t go home without zero points, with a possibility of advancing with a win against Peru and if things go down under for Denmark against France on Match Day 3.

No. 5 – Ivan Rakitic – Croatia vs. Argentina

Had the Argentinians not totally given up on this effort, Ivan Rakitic’s running attack and initial shot that set up a rebound to Luka Modric, who shook Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero from his boots before flicking the ball to Rakitic. The goal was academic.

No. 4 – Christian Eriksen – Denmark vs. Australia

A little first-touch wizardry for Denmark’s Christian Eriksen was only superseded by the setup from Nicolai Jorgensen, who controlled the ball in the 18 with a deft juggle and a perfect pass to the left foot of Eriksen.

No. 3 – Luka Modric – Croatia vs. Argentina

A little crossover, a lot of mustard and juuuuuuust enough bend. That’s Luka Modric’s recipe on this netfinder, one that assured Croatia a spot in the knockout stages while severely jeopardizing any advancement from Argentina. 

No. 2 – Kylian Mbappe – France vs. Peru

The end result was a goal-line tap-in by Kylian Mbappe. The play before it came when Paul Pogba won possession. moving the ball to Oliver Giroud led to a shot deflection that fell right in front of a charging Mbappe. The rest was three points for France.

No. 1 – Ante Rebic – Croatia vs. Argentina

Life is pain. This became apparent when Ante Rebic scored one of the easiest goals you’ll ever see on the world stage. This is almost akin to the easy-goal glitch on EA Sports’ “FIFA International Soccer” where a player could set an attacked right in front of a goalkeeper when he’d try to clear, only to block the kick and tap in an easy goal. As goals go, Wilfredo Caballero won’t allow many worse than this.

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