Match Day 1 of the World Cup has concluded and there are several key points to take away from it. Whether it is teams not hitting their mark, controversial calls or underdogs finding an early stride, this year’s World Cup has no shortage of action so far. Before we get into those key points, take a look at the results for the Match Day 1 fixtures:
- Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
- Egypt 0-1 Uruguay
- Morocco 0-1 Iran
- Portugal 3-3 Spain
- France 2-1 Australia
- Argentina 1-1 Iceland
- Peru 0-1 Denmark
- Croatia 2-0 Nigeria
- Costa Rica 0-1 Serbia
- Germany 0-1 Mexico
- Brazil 1-1 Switzerland
- Sweden 1-0 South Korea
- Belgium 3-0 Panama
- Tunisia 1-2 England
- Colombia 1-2 Japan
- Poland 1-2 Senegal
As you can see, things did not go as planned according to oddsmakers’ expectations. The heavy favorites heading into the tournament were Germany, Brazil and Argentina. Other contenders are France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and England. For most of these teams, their reputations precede them as well as their rosters. However, those reputations can only carry you so far.
France should be running teams off the field given their roster. Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante and Ousmane Dembele are all world class players, yet they can’t seem to find their rhythm for their international side. Their performance against Australia highlighted their failure to launch so far. Although they pulled off a victory, they need to play better if they are to have a chance against teams like Brazil or Germany.
Argentina is another squad that should be playing exceptionally well, however, they weren’t able to start things off right against Iceland. Even with players like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria in the lineup, Argentina could only muster a draw. Messi also missed a penalty kick to add insult to injury.
Germany continued the trend of powerful teams underperforming. The defending champions looked flat in their performance against Mexico. The Mexican side was relentless in their press on the Germans and their pace kept the defense busy. Germany had most of the possession but Mexico made the most of their chances when having the ball. Mexico scored early on after putting in a load of work and Germany’s chances were few and far between. The defending champions need to refocus their game plan before their next match against Sweden. If Mexico can keep up their composure and press, they will be a team to watch going forward.
Perhaps the team with the most expectations are Brazil. Their roster is the most talented on paper and features the most expensive player in the world in Neymar. Gabriel Jesus, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, Willian and Philippe Coutinho are just a few other stars on the team. Coutinho scored off a wonderful shot to put Brazil up, and many thought a second goal was on the way with their skillful style of play. However, Switzerland’s brute force kept Brazil at bay and allowed them to score off a corner kick. Neymar had 10 fouls committed against him in the opening game. With his constant dribbling and fair, he has a target on his back. Brazil would do well to keep him protected to avoid a repeat of the 2014 World Cup where he left with an injured back.
Belgium looked good with their 3-0 win and striker Romelu Lukaku got on the scoresheet twice. It is always good to get your forwards involved early on to build their confidence, so Belgium should be pushing forward with ease. England did the same with their 2-1 win thanks to Harry Kane’s brace. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick their opening game, which is a great sign for the 2016 Euro winners. If Ronaldo keeps up this form, Portugal will be serious contenders.
A lot of South American teams lost. Senegal was the only African team to pull off a win. Even the likes of Argentina and Brazil struggled, so this World Cup is shaping up to be a guessing game as to will emerge on top. If these first matches show us anything, it’s that no one is safe. These 32 teams each bring something to the table and could pull off an upset. After all, these are the best teams in the world.