The Quarter Finalists Surprise
With the last Group stage match played 2 nights ago, the quarter finalist of World Cup 2018 is are now officially listed. It has been a rather interesting week leading up to tonight to say the least.
We will go through and review each group’s finalists before the Round of 16 kicks off tonight at 10pm with France vs. Argentina.
Group A: Uruguay & Russia
Nothing surprising about the 2 teams making it but what was surprising or disappointing, was Salah’s inability to inspire Egypt into at least the Round of 16. Granted, he wasn’t 100% and he did not play in the 1st game, we expected more from this season’s newest Liverpool star. He played un-inspiringly and Russia took the 2nd spot from them.
Group B: Spain & Portugal
Expected but Iran did give both teams a scare with a draw against Portugal and almost drawing against Spain. Morocco deserved better against Iran. (*shakes head at own goal replay*)
Group C: France & Denmark
France mostly dominated the group with the second spot up for grabs, where Denmark edged Peru head to head for it.
Group D: Croatia & Argentina
What a twist it has been for Group D, with Argentina seemed close to being knocked out and Croatia dominating this group through impressive play. The last spot came down to a 3 way race in the last match when Nigeria failed to capitalise against Argentina with a 2-1 loss, allowing Messi another shot at redemption.
Group E: Brazil & Switzerland
Brazil went undefeated to no one’s surprise though their early draw did raise a few eyebrows. Switzerland took the last spot after defeating Serbia 2-1. The more unexpected result was Costa Rica failing to capture a single W throughout the group stage.
Group F: Sweden & Mexico
What a group stage it has been for Group F’s teams. The one that most people did not expect. Mexico’s unexpected triumph over Germany had many expecting them to top the table. But little did they know, Sweden (without Zlatan after he chose to retire) came out of nowhere and beat Mexico 3-0 to steal the top spot in the table as well as a seat in the Round of 16.
Germany, Germany. Who would have thought. They went through a roller coaster of a group. Their 1-0 loss against Mexico, heroic 2-1 win thanks to Kroos’ superb free kick in the final seconds, before a 2-0 breakdown against South Korea, resulting in them bowing out of the World Cup 2018 in somewhat dramatic fashion. This marks the 4th time in a row the defending World Cup champions were eliminated in the group stage. Cue the conspiracy theories!
Group G: Belgium & England
Belgium and England pretty much dominated the group, leaving no chance for Tunisia and Panama. England showed surprising steady play in the group stage, and England fans everywhere have started popping the premature champagne (https://talksport.com/football/389552/its-coming-home-england-fans-are-convinced-they-are-going-to-win-the-world-cup-in-russia-this-summer/) To be fair, their 6-1 win over Panama was nothing short of spectacular.
Group H: Colombia & Japan
Colombia was pretty much the Argentina of Group H. With an unexpected early loss against Japan (due to a red card early in the game), they turned their season around winning the rest of the games impressively against Senegal and Poland to top the group.
The bigger head scratcher was Japan coach’s ‘possession’ style of play banking on a 1-0 loss in their last game to advance into the Round of 16 while Senegal played Colombia simultaneously. If Senegal had drew or won Colombia, Japan would have been eliminated. Thankfully, Colombia played their part and won their final game against Senegal. Japan advanced despite having the same number of points, goals scored and against, because of FIFA’s fair play rule, as Japan had less yellow cards. Asian Pride???? I guess…???
Onward to the Round of 16!
P.S. Even though Germany has been knocked out, we still have jerseys for Argentina, France, Brazil, England and Spain! Check them out here! (https://www.sportsutopiasg.com/collections/soccer-jerseys)