My thoughts on the matches of the 2018 World Cup, as the tournament progresses.
Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
The Russians got themselves off to a great start against the one dimensional Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s didn’t waver from their neat passing, and played right into the hands of the well organised Russians, who just waited for the Saudis to slip up – which they did continuously – and then just punished them.
Saudi Arabia look like they may well be the worst team in the world cup, based on this performance. Still not sure about the Russians, as they had little in the way of opposition.
Uruguay 1-0 Egypt
Fairly nondescript match. Suarez looked well out of sorts, and Uruguay weren’t their usual brutal selves, and in all honesty, they didn’t look anything special. That said, with better finishing from Suarez, it would have been a comfortable win for the South Americans.
Uruguay seemed to capitalise on the Egyptian’s negativity, when they didn’t introduce Mo Salah off the bench. The fact that they declined the chance to introduce Salah to the action late on suggested that they had settled for the draw, and the Uruguayans seemed to sense this and went for it more in the latter stages, resulting in their late winner.
Iran 1-0 Morrocco
Two sides that won’t be threatening the podium in Moscow on Sunday 15th July, fairly obvious statement I know, but this match showed why. Rubbish match, two negative teams, expect Spain and Portugal to fill their boots in their respective matches against these two.
Portugal 3-3 Spain
Although both sides went for it from the off, the Spaniards must be looking at this match and wondering how they didn’t win it. At times I thought they played the Portuguese off the field, and without stating the obvious, had it not been for the remarkable Ronaldo, this would have been an easy win for Spain.
The Spanish didn’t look like the furore over their manager had effected them much, and they look like they are still massive contenders to win the trophy.
France 2-1 Australia
The French can count themselves lucky to win this one against a plucky Australia. Didn’t see what all the fuss was about regarding the penalty incident involving Antoine Griezmann, I thought the penalty was the correct decision.
The French still managed to find a way to win despite not looking too convincing. The sign of a good side? Or is it a case of a team that will get found out when they play one of the real favourites? Only time will tell.
Argentina 1-1 Iceland
Argentina are one of those sides that (since 1986) have never really looked the part, but somehow keep getting to the latter stages of World Cup, and if they are to progress this way, it will be in a similar vein based on this performance. Obviously any side with Lionel Messi in it will always have a chance, but the great man aside, they did look average here (as did Messi with his penalty miss).
Iceland were Iceland, nothing new there. Well organised, well disciplined, and if you are not at your best, they have the ability to hurt you, and that’s what they did taking a deserved point off the Argentine’s.
Peru 0-1 Denmark
Not sure whether to call Peru unlucky, or to say that they blew it. Either way, the Danes can count themselves lucky to take all 3 points.
I thought Peru had the most of the play, but through a combination of bad Peruvian finishing and good goalkeeping from Kasper Schmeichel, they couldn’t make the break through. In typical fashion at a world cup, if you don’t take your chances you will get punished, and with a player like Christian Eriksen on the opposing side, that’s exactly what happened.
Croatia 2-0 Nigeria
Far from the greatest match of the tournament, I thought this was one of those matches that could be described from a Croatian point of view, as getting the job done.
Neither side looked great, the stand out player was Luka Modric, who sealed the win with a penalty.
Serbia 1-0 Costa Rica
I thought this was a tight game between two evenly matched teams, plenty might call it boring, but I thought it was a well contested tight dual.
In the end one moment of skill was the difference with Aleksandar Kolarov’s stunning free kick winning the match for the Serbs. Both these teams will be difficult to beat, and this could well end up being one of the most interesting Groups in the tournament.
Mexico 1-0 Germany
One of those days for the Germans I thought. They could play this match another 10 times and they would comfortably win them all. That said, the current holders were loose at the back, but that could have been down to the fact that they were chasing the game.
Germany backers needed be too nervous just yet, I think they will still be okay.
Brazil 1-1 Switzerland
Similar to the Germans earlier in the day, the Brazilians could play this game another 10 times and win them all. They looked the far better team on the night, but at the same time a goal never seemed inevitable. Could just be a slow start from the boys from Brazil, only time will tell.