World Cup 2018: First Week’s Review
FIFA World Cup 2018 comes every 4 years and after building anticipation for such a long time, it has to live up to it. And the biggest footballing event didn’t disappoint. The first week of World Cup has been full of nail-biting matches and few unexpected results. Let's take a look at the best matches of World Cup.
1. Portugal V Spain
On day 2 of the World Cup, Euro Champions Portugal took on strong Spain in the second match of Group B. It was one of the most anticipated matches for more than one reason. Cristiano Ronaldo going against his club-mate and best defender in the world Sergio Ramos was just amazing. Portugal doesn’t have a well-balanced squad or many star players. But what they had was a determined Cristiano Ronaldo.
Spain dominated the possession and got back into the game recovering from early Ronaldo penalty with Diego Costa scoring a brilliant solo goal. Ronaldo then tried his luck from outside the box only to see De Gea make a silly mistake and gift him and Portugal with the second goal.
Spain equalized after a while through a brilliant set-piece play by David Silva. Silva and Busquets combined perfectly to provide Costa with an amazing opportunity and he easily beat Patricio to score the equalizer. Just after few minutes, Nacho scored a screamer from a volley and put Spain ahead for the first time. It looked like Portugal will surely lose this one as Spain kept possession and looked to kill the game. But unfortunately, Gerard Pique fouled Ronaldo just outside the box which proved very costly as Ronaldo stepped up and scored a brilliant freekick to score his hat-trick and helped Portugal to get a valuable point against a tough opponent.
The game was full of brilliant Spain attacks and up and downs with a brilliant Ronaldo hat-trick to seal the deal.
2. Germany V Mexico
The Mighty Germans have fallen in the first match in the World Cup as the champions. Germans were always the favorites to win this clash against Mexico. But football once against proved that it’s all about passion. Mexico got the lead in the 35th minute with Lozano beating Neuer at the near post.
Germany leads the game in possession and had 26 shots with 9 shots being on target. But Ochoa brought back his World Cup 2014 mojo and kept the ball out with amazing saves. Although Germany dominated the game, they lacked clear-cut chances and would have been humiliated if Mexico had capitalized on their clear chances in the second half.
Germany lacked a striker up top to convert the chances with Werner having an off day and Muller spending much of the game on the wings. Their midfield could create better chances as Kroos was cleverly marked and his passing options cut off. Ozil didn’t do his usual best and his work rate was low.
Now Germans will be facing Sweden in their second game and they have to win this one to keep their hopes alive. They will need to make a statement with a strong performance or the fear factor against them will be undone.
3. Argentina V Croatia
Argentina was termed as the fourth-favorites to win the World Cup behind Germany, France, and Brazil. But they didn’t have the best starts to the tournament drawing to minnows Iceland. In that game, there was no chemistry between the Argentinian players and to make matters worse, Leo Messi missed an opportunity to give them lead from the spot.
Argentina had an even bigger test at hand with brilliant Croatia coming into the game with a convincing 2-0 win over Nigeria. This game proved to be a shocker with the Argentinians facing a humiliating 3-0 defeat. This proved to be one of the worst performances by Argentina as their midfield was nearly non-existential. Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero were the players with least touch for Argentina in the first half with Aguero having only 7 touches.
Goalkeeper Caballero was guilty of gifting the first goal to Croatia with a terrible back pass to his defender which was brilliantly converted by Ante Rebic. Overall the game was never in reach of Argentina with Croatian duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic dominating the midfield and scoring a goal each.
There were few other unexpected results in the first week.
- Peru 0-1 Denmark
- Brazil 1-1 Switzerland
- Columbia 1-2 Japan
- Poland 1-2 Senegal
Japan became the first Asian team to beat a South American team in the World Cup Finals and Senegal became the first African team to win a match in this World Cup.
There are some anticipated encounters in the group stage which can prove to be a thriller or will we see some more upset for strong sides with smaller teams playing their hearts out.
Most anticipated matches of the Group stages:
- Poland V Columbia
- Germany V Sweden
- Nigeria V Argentina
- England V Belgium