We’ve had the opening ceremony, tested the VAR and had our chance to run our eyes over every qualified nation at this summer’s World Cup.
We’ve seen drab draws, deserved defeats and a genuine WC classic.
From rampant Russia to the organised Swiss we take a brief look at how each group is shaping up heading into the 2nd week at Russia 2018.
We all expected the Saudi’s to be making up the numbers in group A and their performance showed that they are still lacking at this level, Russia however surprised even their own. Many articles wrote off the hosts (including ours) but despite the opposition, they did a job on Saudi Arabia and scored some great goals to set the standard for the upcoming matches.
Egypt and Uruguay looked destined for the 0-0 that the Pharaohs arrived for. Leaving most attacking talent on the bench, they wanted to nick a point against Suarez and co. A late header from unlikely centre half Jimenez made Salah’s head drop but ultimately made him feel the pain that his coach’s negative tactics warranted.
Next up – Russia vs Egypt & Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
Well well, Iran currently top a group containing the mighty Spain and reigning European Champions Portugal. A draw between the neighbours wasn’t an unsurprising result but Iran sneaking a late win over Morocco certainly was. The Moroccans will have banked on a winning start to give them momentum heading into clashes with the big two.
Spain and Portugal still heavy favourites to progress without incident.
Next Up – Portugal vs Morocco & Iran vs Spain
It started with France in all of their French ways. A tight 2-1 victory over the battling Aussies aided by both VAR and Goal Line technology, there is more to come from Deschamps men but they’ll need to improve quickly with the dangerous duo of Denmark and Peru to come. Speaking of the latter two, they played out one of the more underrated games we’ve seen. Peru blazed a penalty over the bar at a crucial time and the Danes took their chance when it came. Pardoned captain Guerrero came on to trouble Schmeichel over and over but you got a feeling it just wasn’t their day as the ball trickled past the post and cleared off lines.
Next Up – Denmark vs Australia & France vs Peru
The mighty Iceland strike again! Fresh from their Euro 2016 heroics, into their 1st World Cup and followed to Eastern Europe by a 10th of their population – they held their nerve better that little Lionel did from 12 yards. Croatia saw off the Nigerian challenge as expected, leaving the door a jar for Iceland to take it to the final game shootout with Croatia.
Next Up – Argentina vs Croatia & Nigeria vs Iceland
A Kolarov stunner lit up and otherwise uneventful opener between 2014 surprise package Costa Rica and a potentially dangerous Serbia. Mitrovic spurned a few chances before a wonderful free kick from the skipper captured a crucial 3 points. In the other game, the Brazilian boys were met with Swiss steel. A Coutinho curler was cancelled out by a simple cross / header combination leaving Neymar frustrated and not just with amount of “treatment” he was receiving.
Next Up – Brazil vs Costa Rica & Serbia vs Switzerland
World Cup shock anyone? Germany 0-1 Mexico
A counter attacking and literally earth moving goal was enough for the Mexicans. A fine solo strike from PSV’s Lozano was enough to spark wild celebration back home, wild enough to register on the Richter scale! Germany huffed and puffed but couldn’t find the elusive equaliser despite 21 attempts and high levels of possession.
The turn up for the books allowed Sweden to take advantage with a narrow victory over South Korea, leaving the World Champions with a lot of work to do and potentially relying on results elsewhere.
Next Up – South Korea vs Mexico & Germany vs Sweden
Unlike every other group so far this one happened as it was supposed to. Belgium comfortably eased past Panama and Kane scored a double to wrestle 3 points from Tunisia.
This group will go down to the last game to decide top spot with the others fighting it out to go home with some pride.
Next Up – England vs Panama & Belgium vs Tunisia
We had a fair amount of late drama but this group opened up with plenty. Just 3 minutes in and Columbia were down to 10 men giving Kagawa an easy opportunity to get Japan off and running. A clever free kick deceived all in the wall but even a James-inspired Columbia couldn’t kick on and fell victim to a deadly set piece leaving them deflated and defeated.
Poland have turned themselves into regular qualifiers in the past few championships but you got the feeling they massively underestimated a Senegal squad filled with equally underestimated talent. This game showed that you can have a quality player such a Lewandowski but that can’t match a quality squad such as the Senegalese. They could surprise again just like back in 2002.
Next Up – Japan vs Senegal & Poland vs Columbia
Russia have already laid a marker with another 3 goals and in turn sending Egypt back to the hotel to start packing.
Roll on the remainder of round 2!