And then there were two...
After a second round full of drama, with three of the eight last-16 ties being decided by a penalty shootuout, the quarter-finals were in danger of being overshadowed by the loss of several tournament favourites. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both exited the competition, while Germany did not even make it out of the group. This all left the draw wide open for the eight remaining sides.
England swept past Sweden to reach a first semi-final in nearly three decades, while Croatia needed a second successive shootout win to see off Russia. It was on the other side of the draw, though, where the bulk of the drama transpired. Belgium reached the semi-finals for only the second time in their history, beating favourites Brazil, while France saw off Uruguay. In the semis, the French side edged past their Belgian neighbours, before England's unexpected run came to an end the next day. Still no final for England since 1966, but an extraordinary feat for Croatia - finalists just 27 years after independence, with a population of just four million.
Croatia vs France - a final that few could claim to have predicted. Many have called it the greatest World Cup of all time, and the entertainment is showing no signs of slowing as it reaches its culmination. Fans continue to ramp up their engagement with the tournament across Instagram, Twitter and just about any other platform that enables them to get their World Cup fix. Fortunately for us, Hookit, SportsPro’s official data partner, has been keeping tabs on the athletes, teams and brands that drove the most interest and engagement on social media during the fourth week of the tournament.
About this data
Hookit followed activity across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube during the third week of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. The individual accounts of players were tracked, as were the official accounts of all 32 competing nations and those of Fifa’s 12 official World Cup partners. Interaction data comprises the total number of likes, comments and shares.
France finalists - and leading the way
France have retained their place at the top of the team table, with their semi-final victory over Belgium keeping Didier Deschamps' team still a long way clear of the next most engaging teams. England have climbed the list nicely, a combination of a run to the final four, as well as being the result of a savvy and marketable squad of youngsters. Spain, however, have paid for their early exit, falling four places to eighth - just ahead of Poland and South Korea, the latter remaining engaging after despite falling at the group stage largely as a result of eliminating 2014 champions Germany.
Juventus move sends Ronaldo well clear
Cristiano Ronaldo shot up six places to the top of the player leaderboard despite being knocked out of the World Cup more than a week ago. The Portugal captain's big money transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus moved him ahead of Neymar, who had led last week's list. Paul Pogba is the highest ranked player among the finalists, with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann joining him in representing France in the top ten. Ivan Rakitic, the Barcelona midfielder, is Croatia's sole player in the top ten. The biggest mover, however, is England's Jesse Lingard, whose digital interaction has seen him leap 32 places - from 40th to eighth. Lingard scored in his nation's 6-1 group stage rout of Panama and has been active on social media promoting his personal ‘JLINGZ’ merchandise throughout the tournament.
Nike stress quality over quantity in staying clear of Adidas
Nike retained its lead over Adidas in the brand stakes despite posting just seven times - nearly half the number that Adidas' representatives sent. Paul Pogba tagged Adidas in four posts, bringing in more than 640,000 interactions. Neymar though, who was part of the Brazil side beaten by Belgium in the quarter-finals, generated more than 3,380,000 interactions in just three posts that referenced Nike. Benjamin Pavard, Pogba's French teammate, was a virtual unknown in international circles before the tournament began. However, the Stuttgart full-back pulled in 374,900 interactions for Adidas with just two posts, highlighting the power that players bring to their brands.
Coca-Cola fizzing it up with 350 per cent increase on last week
Nike fell hard this week, achieving only nine per cent of last week's total engagement. Coca-Cola however had a strong week, increasing its engagement over last week by 350 per cent. Puma also had a strong week even though it don't have a team left in the tournament, increasing it engagement by 300 per cent this week to take the second spot on the rankings. Even though Nike's engagement was lower, they still have already ‘won’ the World Cup, sponsoring both teams that are in the final.