duminică, 17 iunie 2018


Costa Rica - Serbia 0-1 (Kolarov '56)
Germany - Mexico 0-1 (Lozano '35)
Brazil - Switzerland 1-1 (Coutinho '20 - Zuber '50)

With only 4 goals in 3 games, one could be thinking there wasn't much to see in the World Cup today, but one would then miss what I think was the most exciting day so far.

Costa Rica - Serbia was almost a straightforward win for the Serbs, but Costa Rica is known to spring up a few surprises. This is a poor Costa Rican side, however, despite incorporating players with higher profiles than they've ever had. I thought Serbia controlled the game pretty much beginning to end. It started out as balanced, but the Serbs got the initiative and the majority of chances quickly, and despite being goalless at half time they were always looking the likelier to score. Eventually they did via a brilliant free-kick by Aleksandar Kolarov, 10 minutes after the break. Costa Rica proved unable to switch modes from defense to attack even after the introduction of Arsenal's bench-warmer Joel Campbell. Trouble is, the Serbs also became a lot more economical with their game after the goal and even if they still looked the better team and closer to 2-0 than their opponents were to a draw, the game ended with just the one goal that sets the group to rights. 

In group F, regardless of how big of a surprise is Germany losing to Mexico, few things will change, as Loew's boys will win the other two games. But the manner in which the Mexicans won and their approach to the game are admirable. No regards for the name of the opponent, keep calm and do your regular game. Helped by a poor positioning of the German squad, who left a huge gap in front of the central defenders, Mexico was also the team who looked likelier to score for 2-0 and I think Chicharito was denied a penalty when Boateng crushed into him in the box. It was spectacular to see the Germans furiously attacking Ochoa's goal, specially in the last 20 minutes, only to be met with a calm and composed team that was always ready to throw a ball forward where the Chicharito and Miguel Layun were ready to prey on the lonely central defenders. Loew will have learned his lessons from this game, but now Mexico seem to have the first chance of winning the group.

And if so far we've had more penalties than we probably should, today we saw teams being denied a few. Chicharito and the Mexican squad aren't gonna lose too much sleep over theirs, but there's a chance Brazil will come to regret not being granted what I thought was a clear-cut penalty on Gabriel Jesus with the score at 1-1. I have to say, Brazil looked pretty goodand yes, drawing Switzerland is a huge surprise, but just like Germany, they'll still go through their group. This result only complicates things for Serbia, who will have to make sure they beat Switzerland now to qualify. There's the option of a draw and then hoping you'll get something from Brazil while at the same time waiting for Costa Rica to show up against the Swiss, but who would bet on those odds?

Credit to Switzerland, they were brilliant today. Utterly dominated, but that was always going to be the case against Brazil. They conceded an undefendable goal, but for all the rest of Brazilian chances the keeper stood firm, even when he was betrayed by his defense, as was the case for both Thiago Silva and Neymar's headers, respectively. 

So not only is this World Cup not boring, it might just be one of the most exciting yet, with Brazil, Germany and Argentina all dropping points in their first games.

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