The 2018 World Cup may have been the best one since the tournament became a thing. It had everything a football fan could have asked for: excitement, drama, standout performances, big upsets, fantastic goals, and controversy. It also had some big disappointments which no one could have foreseen and in turn some huge surprises that were shocking. Here are the biggest ones:

Surprise: Croatia

How can they not be a surprise? They are, in fact, the biggest one, to the casual fan (at least) and even to others that are more familiar with the international scene. Croatia is a city of just over four million, which would have made them the second-smallest nation to win the World Cup, right after Uruguay.

But it would have been more impressive because when Uruguay won their World Cup titles, the fields were not as large due to the absences of the European nations. Croatia was the 20th-ranked team in the world, which, when you look back, is very unfair to the team. Although I’ve always been high on them for years, not even I would have predicted that they would be the runner-up.

They won the ‘Group of Death’ convincingly and were the best team throughout the tournament. They proved to have the best midfield in the world because of the presences of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric (who is the best midfielder in the world and the best player of the tournament). But beyond them, their supporting cast burst onto the scene and made a name for themselves.

Disappointment: Germany

As big of a surprise the Croats were, the reigning champions were arguably just as big, but on the opposite spectrum. They entered the tournament as the number one team in the world, and rightfully so. But, they looked anything but, failing to capitalize on a weaker group and shocking the world by not advancing.

They had arguably the most talent in the world but did not perform up to standards. They had possession and created half-chances, but could not cash in, and a lot had to do with complacency, which may be more disappointing than actually crashing out of the group stages.

Surprise: Russia

The only reason Russia was in the World Cup was that they hosted the tournament. Otherwise, the 70th-ranked country in the world probably would have been sitting and watching from home. But what they did, was nothing short of remarkable. They made it out of the group stages, which no one expected, and were on the verge of making it to the semi-finals, losing in penalties to Croatia.

During their path, they upset one of the best and most talented teams in the world in Spain. It was not pretty, but when you were on the backfoot as much as the Russians were, you would have expected them to break down eventually, considering the talent difference. But they held off and made a deep run, feeding off the energy of the home crowd.

Disappointment: Spain

Speaking of Spain, they were expected to bounce-back after crashing out in 2014. This was a different-looking squad, with young and hungry talent. The Spanish were one of the favorites entering the World Cup and proceeded to advance to the Round of 16.

However, even getting there they did not look great, collecting just one win out of three against inferior competition. They only had a goal difference of one and scored just twice total against Morocco and Iran. Then, they looked rather disappointing against the 70th-ranked nation in the world.

They had around 75% of possession against the host nation for 120 minutes but were only able to muster up one goal. And in penalties they missed two crucial kicks, ending a lackluster showing in the World Cup.

Surprise: England

No one, absolutely no one, expected England to go far this year. Not even their own fans. After years of disappointment and underperforming, fans and the national media looked to finally have not expectations. They had a new-look squad full of young and developing players who were led by a manager that people believed should not have been in that position.

But they accomplished was special, uniting and getting support from the nation’s population and media, en route to their first semi-finals since 1990 along with the first time reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since that same year. Players like Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire epitomized this squad: No expectations or didn’t know what to expect but positively shocked everyone. The future is bright.

Disappointment: Argentina

Argentina is always going to be one of the favorites because they have Lionel Messi. But more than him, the nation has other world-class attacking options but never put it together. They snuck out of the group stages, even though they did not deserve to. If not for an 86th-minute winner in the last game of the group stages, they would have been sent home.

Then they proceeded to lost to eventual champs France, but again, they themselves had the talent to win, but at no point did they ever resemble the team we expected to see. Yet another disappointing result for a country that has been clamoring for more World Cup success.