What happened when a European XI played a Rest of the World XI before the 1998 World Cup

The draw for the 2018 World Cup took place on Friday as football fans started getting very excited about the greatest month in the sporting calendar.

The draw, conducted by Gary Lineker, went smoothly without any problems or suggestions that it was fixed – although Russia got a suspiciously easy-looking group!

But there were certainly no thrills.

Twenty years ago, though, France did their best to excite football fans ahead of the draw – and they certainly did.

Before the draw for the 1998 World Cup draw, France decided to host a World XI vs European XI. But this wasn’t a charity match full of overweight retired footballers, this involved one player – supposed to be the best player – from each nation competing at the tournament in the ultimate exhibition match.


What did the teams look like?

For Europe, they boasted the likes of Alessandro Costacurta, Fernando Hierro, Paul Ince, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Kluivert and Alen Boksic.

But with Gabriel Batistuta and Ronaldo up-front, there was only going to one winner – the Rest of the World.

And that’s exactly what happened with them running out 5-2 winners in an enthralling match.

Take a look at the highlights:

Romania’s Marius Lacatus put Europe ahead before Colombia’s Antony de Avila latched onto a Ronaldo pass to equalise.

The Brazilian striker then produced a superb moment. He twisted Hierro inside-out with a trademark stepover before firing the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot.

He then assisted Batistuta twice as the Rest of the World raced into a 4-1 lead. The Argentine then returned the favour, playing a pass to Ronaldo who made it 5-1.

It just wasn’t fair having those two on the same side.

But Zidane, who would go on to claim the World Cup for his country, did his best to make the score respectable.

He embarrassed Paraguayan keeper Ruben Martin Ruiz Diaz before firing home to make it 5-2.

While Ronaldo got the better of Zidane on that day, Zidane’s brace in the final wasn’t a bad way to get revenge.

We would love to see a modern-day version of this. Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar vs Eden Hazard. Luis Suarez vs Antoine Griezmann.

Bring it on.

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