The ten things to remember after the 48 matches of the first round of the Russian World Cup.
The elimination of Germany and the curse of the title holder
It is the earthquake of this World Cup for the moment. World champions in title, the Germans started their World Cup badly by losing to Mexico (0-1). Victorious on the wire of Sweden (2-1) thanks to an unexpected goal of Toni Kroos, the Mannschaft thought then to start on track again.
However, South Korea put an end to Germany’s dream of a brace (0-2) on the final day of the group stage. For the fourth time in the last five editions of the World Cup, the title holder is eliminated in the first round.
Fair play makes its appearance
A great first. Fair play has therefore designated a qualifier for the knockout stages. At the end of the third day, Senegal and Japan were in perfect equality in terms of points, goals conceded and scored.
On the second day, the two selections could not be decided (2-2). FIFA has done it for them with the rule of fair play. And at this little game, the Nippons (four yellow cards) were wiser than the Lions of Teranga (six). It is therefore Japan that will see the round of 16 against Angleterrre. So sad!.
African nations trapped
Five African selections were entered in this Russian World Cup and none will see the knockout stages. It was Egypt that made the worst appearance with three losses in as many matches. Morocco managed to save the honor by snatching a draw against Spain (2-2). Nigeria has long believed but Argentina ended up being right in the Super Eagles (2-1). We also think of course in Senegal, mentioned above, and this blow of fate with fair play.
Finally, Tunisia, in a very complicated group with England and Belgium, saved the furniture by overcoming modest Panama (2-1). No African nation in the round of 16, a first since 1982.
Record penalties and goals against his side
The Russian World is making its revolution. With the introduction of video refereeing, there is an increase in penalties. While the previous record was 18 (1990, 1998 and 2002), 24 penalties have already been whistled in this first round. Another mark to fall, goals against his side. In 1998 in France, six CHCs had been registered throughout the competition. At the end of the first 48 games, nine goals against their side have already been scored. Moreover, Tunisia’s Yassine Meriah has become, against Panama, the 50th player in World Cup history to score against his side.
El-Hadary in history
A true Egyptian football legend, Essam El-Hadary was a substitute against Uruguay and Russia. Already eliminated, the Pharaohs turned in the last match against Saudi Arabia (1-2 defeat) and Hector Cuper, the coach, took the opportunity to secure the goalkeeper to 160 selections. On the occasion of this match, he became the oldest player to play in a World Cup match, at age 45 and 161 days, and thus erased tablets the Colombian Faryd Mondragon, also goalkeeper, who had played face in Japan, in 2014, at age 43 and 3 days.
The bad luck of Tunisian goalkeepers
It’s a bit of the funny story of this World Cup. Holder against England, Mouez Hassen was injured prematurely on shoulder. It was then Farouk Ben Mustapha who took over the torch. But the latter also hurt himself during a training before the last match against Panama. Tunisia then asked for a waiver from FIFA to appeal to a fourth goalkeeper. Refused by the international body. Fortunately for the Eagles of Carthage, Aymen Mathlouthi, the third goalkeeper, did not get injured during the game…
France-Denmark, the match that should not be seen
We will not lie, this France-Denmark of Tuesday, June 26 was a horror for the eyes. Neither team wanted to take any chances and we had a tasteless match. The twenty-two actors even finished the meeting under the whistles of a very dissatisfied public. It is also the only 0-0 of this World Cup for the moment.
Spain-Portugal, the match that should not be missed
Certainly, this meeting took place from the second day of competition. But what part! It was presented as the game to see and very quickly, we understood why. Spain was expected at the turn, after the dismissal of his coach two days before the competition, and it has met expectations. In front, the European champion defended his rank and Cristiano Ronaldo was great. Intensity, magnificent goals (Nacho and Diego Costa) and the hat-trick of CR7. This meeting (3-3 final score) perfectly launched the World Cup.
The defeat of Argentina against Croatia
There too, this match was expected. Argentina, held in check in opening by Iceland (1-1), could be in an embarrassing situation in case of defeat. The Albiceleste did not simply lose this meeting, it was simply humiliated by the Croatia (0-3) of an exceptional Luka Modric. At this very moment, it was hard to see how Leo Messi’s partners could recover from it, yet they will face the Blues (Saturday on the Kazan lawn at 4pm) in the round of 16.
All nations scored two goals
We will end with a historical touch. For the first time, all nations involved in this World Cup scored at least two goals. Before the last day of this group phase, Poland and Panama were the worst students in the class. Bednarek scored Poland’s second goal in the competition and gave Japan a 1-0 win over Japan. The Panamanians imitated them the same evening thanks to the help of a Tunisian, Meriah. The account is good.