World Cup 2018: Best and Worst of Match Day 1 – Group B

-

What a start to Group B.

Embed from Getty Images

What Happened

We’re four games in and this is the best World Cup ever. I fell asleep after the first Russian goal the other night, caught what Optus let me of the Egypt-Uruguay goal, and napped right through Iran’s 1-0 win over Morocco this morning – their first win at the World Cup in 20 years. For some reason, though, I woke up at 3.50am having forgotten to set an alarm for Spain’s match against Portugal, so I went downstairs to the TV and was treated to two hours of uninterrupted, broadcast-quality football on SBS. The 3-3 draw also turned out to be one of the best matches you’ll see at this – and perhaps any – World Cup.

Stand Out Performers

  1. SBS. Say what you like about Craig Foster and Lucy Zelic, but they don’t buffer.
  2. His first goal was a penalty, but he also won it. His second came from a freakish goalkeeping error, but he asked De Gea the question. He is statistically awful at freekicks, but this one was sucked into the net. A vision of Cristiano Ronaldo lifting the World Cup drifted through my head some time after the game, and it was just as unseemly as it sounds.
  3. Diego Costa, a man who could drag his adopted country deeper into this competition than most, might end up doing so through sheer determination.

Talking Points

Spain could win this tournament. I wrote them off as semi finalists at best in my preview, but there was something about each of their three goals which revealed how many options they have going forward. A grit previously dulled by management seems to have come to the fore. They’re also a team of serial winners, even if this morning’s result is pretty clear evidence to the contrary.

Embed from Getty Images

What it Means

Spain and Portugal are still tracking well, even if both would’ve preferred three points to knock the other into a challenge for second place. Iran could head through to the second round with a point in either of their next two games, but that’s a tough ask. And Morocco are in trouble, having lost their most winnable game, and facing up to  more difficult opponents who are both in need of points on the board.

Needs Work

You can’t go scoring own goals in injury time if you want to get anywhere at the World Cup. Morocco’s much-lauded defence failed at a critical moment, and Aziz Bouhaddouz’s unfortunate header means the Lions of the Atlas will need to beat one of Portugal or Spain if they’re to stand any chance of getting through the group. A point against the Portuguese in a few days’ time would be a good start, but that’ll depend on whether Cristiano Ronaldo decides is going to happen.

Whats Next

Portugal against Morocco. Spain against Iran. Everyone’s gotta play each other once, I guess. The 3-3 result doesn’t do much for either Spain or Portugal, who’ll both still be determined to hammer the other two teams in the group for a more favourable round of 16 draw.

Embed from Getty Images

Goal of the Day

Take your pick. Ronaldo demonstrated spectacular restraint to place his freekick inside the far post rather than skewing the ball to the moon as usual, and Nacho’s shot screamed right past Rui Patricio and into the history books as one of the cleanest hits of a football the World Cup will ever see. My favourite was Diego Costa’s first, a real goal from the street that took a good bit of muscle and a decent couple of touches. Celebrating, you could see he was living any football fan’s dream: scoring at the World Cup, and elbowing Pepe in the neck.

Miss of the Day

David de Gea’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world but my housemate won’t believe me. She watched her first football match this morning and thinks I’m a liar because David de Gea made a weirdly inexplicable error in quite a big game, so that’s how she knows him now. In the context of recent goalkeeping mistakes it’s not all that mindblowing that someone should concede a goal like Ronaldo’s second, but it was pretty surprising that someone was de Gea, who is otherwise one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

mm
Max Grieve
Max joined The Football Sack in 2014, covering Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League. He likes Liverpool, APIA Leichhardt, the Leichhardt Saints and goals.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required