Molly's blog: the biggest shocks, disappointments and football's journey home

It's been over two weeks since the World Cup started and already we have been gifted with some thrilling football and many shock results. I took a look at some of the exciting games that got everyone talking.

by Molly_Burke Saturday, 30 June 2018 06:34 PM Comments

Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia

The opening World Cup fixture didn't look to be a particularly exciting one, with the two sides ranked the two worst teams in the whole tournament. Russia's squad was said to be one of the worst they have ever had and whilst they had the home advantage, not many people could have predicted the way they tore Saudi Arabia apart.

Russia took the lead early on, but an injury to their star player Alan Dzajoev surely gave Saudi Arabia a helping hand. However, the substitution appeared to be a blessing in disguise, with Denis Cheryshev going on to run the show, grabbing two brilliant goals. 

The Asian side were terrible in their first game of the 2018 World Cup, but you have to give credit to the hosts for absolutely battering them.

Argentina 1-1 Iceland

A lot of people will have expected Argentina to be one of few favourites to win this year's World Cup, with it likely to be Lionel Messi's last. However, debutants Iceland weren't at all sympathetic to the Barcelona man and managed to hold Argentina to a draw. 

Sergio Aguero scored Argentina's first goal of the tournament, but it took only four minutes for Iceland to pull one back. From then on Messi's side were dominant, claiming 78% possession and 27 shots. 

Iceland - the side who shocked England when they knocked us out in the Euros two years ago - refused to back down and managed to leave Moscow with a point, leaving the Argentinians very disappointed. 

Brazil 1-1 Switzerland

Brazil were - and still are - my favourites to win the World Cup, but they are going to have to do better than their draw against Switzerland if that is to happen.

A star-studded line-up including Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Neymar and Coutinho looked frightening and after the latter's superb opener after 20 minutes, it looked like they were set for victory. However, following the goal Brazil failed to have another effort on target till the 77th minute and Switzerland capitalised on that with an equaliser from Steven Zuber.

Brazil's struggles in the final third as well as an impressive performance from Switzerland - especially MOTM Valon Behrami - meant the five-time champions failed to win their opening game for the first time since 1978. 

Germany 0-1 Mexico

Perhaps the biggest shock so far has been current champions Germany's loss to Mexico. Germany were very impressive in the last World Cup, beating Argentina to the trophy thanks to Mario Gotze's late goal in the final, and since then it appears their squad has only got better. 

Everyone knew Mexico had a decent squad and could have been the dark horses of the tournament, however I think it is very unlikely that anyone predicted they would beat a side as good as Germany. 

Mexico had a superb first half, piling pressure on Germany's defence. They looked threatening and it wasn't much of a shock when PSV's Hirving Lozano slotted the ball past Manuel Neuer following an impressive counter attack from the Mexicans. 

The second half saw Germany search for an equaliser as Mexico defended for their lives, but Germany couldn't make a single one of their 26 shots count and the North American country took the deserved three points right to the top of Group F. 

Argentina 0-3 Croatia

As previously mentioned, Argentina headed into this fixture off the back of a disappointing draw against Iceland and realistically needed to win. Meanwhile, Croatia had put two past Nigeria in their first match and were looking confident.

Following Cristiano Ronaldo's success so far in Russia, a lot of pressure was on Messi to impress, but he was unable to prevent an extremely embarrassing evening for the Argentinians.

Following a fairly even first half, a failed chip from goalkeeper Willy Caballero over Ante Rebic saw the striker volley the ball into the back of the net in the 53rd minute, handing Croatia the lead. From then on it went dowhill for Argentina.

With ten minutes to go the midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic both grabbed a goal each, ending the game 3-0. 

A change of system and a superb late winner by Marcos Rojo ensured that, despite a poor start, Argentina were able to progress through to the round of 16 alongside Croatia, however Messi's side were today knocked out by France, in a thrilling 4-2 loss. 

Germany 2-1 Sweden

Whilst Germany beating Sweden doesn't sound at all surprising, it's the fashion that the did it in that shocked viewers. 

Despite a disappointing defeat to Mexico, a win over Sweden was almost certain, with the side 23 places below the current champions in FIFA's world rankings. However, around the half an hour mark former Sunderland man Ola Toivonen lobbed the keeper to gift Sweden an unlikely lead.

Following the break Germany piled on the pressure in an attempt to avoid embarrassment and three minutes into the second half Marco Reus grabbed the equaliser. However, Germany still had a lot to do to save their skin and a late red card for Jerome Boateng really didn't help.

Germany appeared to be falling apart and no matter how much they were dominating, Sweden were determined to claim a point. With seconds to go, Germany were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box, and in Germany fashion, Toni Kroos curled it right into the top corner - stunning.

A disappointing performance coupled with a red card reassured Sweden that they could take something away from the game, but it was pure quality from the Real Madrid midfielder that decided the game in the end.

England 6-1 Panama

Having already beaten Tunisia 2-1, England were very much expected to beat Panama, but maybe not by that many goals.

Gareth Southgate opted to start Ruben Loftus-Cheek with Dele Alli out injured - a decision that many were happy with due to the positive impact he had when he came on againt Tunisia. However, he also chose to stick with Raheem Sterling who had a particularly poor first game. Once again Sterling failed to shine, but it didn't matter when we were putting six past Panama. 

It took only 8 minutes for us to open the scoring, with a lovely header from John Stones. A goal which I was very grateful of considering the amount of England players being wrestled in the box by the opposition. 

Panama had a few chances following sloppy play by England which we would have almost definitely been punished for had our opposition been of better quality, however once Kane banged in a thunderous penalty in the 22nd minute, Panama's flood gates opened.

Kane grabbed a hat-trick - granted not the most impressive hat-trick with two penalties and a deflection from Loftus-Cheek's shot, but still a hat-trick none-the-less. Stones' also claimed another, after a lovely set piece straight from the training ground allowed him to head the ball home once again - but the best of them all had to be a lovely, curled effort from Lingard on the edge of the box. 

As usual we dropped off in the second half and gave a pretty boring performance, even allowing Panama to claim their first ever World Cup goal - which they celebrated as if they had won the whole thing... fair play - but we can't really complain after such a comfortable thrashing. 

Despite claiming we were going for the win in our final group game against Belgium on Thursday night, it is clear we were going for second place after a poor performance saw us lose 1-0. However, Colombia on Tuesday and Sweden/Switzerland next weekend is all that stands between us and a World Cup semi-final. Is football coming home? I think so.

South Korea 2-0 Germany

As previously said, Germany have had a very poor World Cup, despite scraping a win against Sweden. However, Germany were looking to win again to progress through to the knockout stages and there wasn't too much doubt that they would do it, but South Korea thought otherwise.

Son Heung-min's side were already out of the World Cup and were only playing for pride, but it proved a very strong motivation after two injury time goals from the Spurs man and Kim Young-gwon created history, knocking Germany out of the World Cup in the group stages for the first time in 80 years. 

There have plenty of surprises in Russia so far, but Germany's failure to get past the first round - despite dominating the World Cup four years ago and becoming champions- will be the biggest of them all. 

 

 

Tags

Russia, Brazil, england, worldcup, messi, argentina, panama, kane, germany, kroos, modric, rakitic