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

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A mixed start to Group D.

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What Happened

A sensational performance from Iceland was the highlight in two fairly dour games to start Group D. Full of optimism after Australia’s promising display against the French I looked onto Group D with much intrigue. Iceland outdid Australia’s efforts to hold a point against one of Football’s heavyweights Argentina in a 1-1 draw, even nullifying the world’s best or now it must be said second best player in Lionel Messi. Meanwhile the class of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic proved too much for Nigeria after an own goal and Modric penalty saw Croatia win 2-0.

Stand Out Performers

  1. Mel McCloughin’s shoes. Her quality front-woman skills aside, she oozes elegance in both fashion and football knowledge, pairing smart casual presentation to perfection.
  2. Iceland. They continue to defy the critics, proving Euro 2016 was no joke with a superb performance deservedly gaining a point.
  3. Luka Modric. Provided some excitement in a poor match and looked a class above most players on the pitch, this magician is one of the worlds best central midfielders.

Talking Points

Messi is number two right now. Ronaldo and Messi has almost exact opposite performances in match-day one. Ronaldo rose to the occasion, netting a clutch penalty and a late free kick in an instrumental hat-trick against Footballing giants Spain. Messi failed to breakdown minnows Iceland, missing a penalty before striking the wall with a well positioned free kick. The war is certainly not over but Ronaldo has won the first battle, emphatically.

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What it Means

Croatia will certainly be most pleased after last night, although they now know Iceland will be no easy-beats. Both Iceland and Nigeria will see its next match against each other as a must win and could prove pivotal for the group standings. Jorge Sampaoli will need to revitalize Argentina and Messi quickly if the South Americans are to make any serious inroads to the competition.

Needs Work

Nigeria. After flying through qualification, Nigeria lacked any real cutting edge against a Croatia outfit that scraped into the World Cup via the play-offs. A menacing forward line of pace and athleticism will need to be better utilized if the Africans stand a chance of winning a match in Russia.

Whats Next

Croatia versus Argentina. Iceland versus Nigeria. Two crunch games that could add another chapter to Iceland fairy tale or condemn Argentina into national mourning. That’s the beauty of World Cups and what makes this game the greatest on earth.

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Goal of the Day

Aguero, no question. An own goal, a penalty and a scrappy finish provided little competition to the little Argentian’s world class finish. The Manchester City striker shrugged off any doubts over his fitness with a sharp turn before rocketing the ball into the top corner leaving the keeper helpless. His class simply cannot be questioned.

Miss of the Day

The penalty. Lionel Messi had the chance to put Argentina 2-1 up after the correct awarding of a penalty via VAR. But the little magician was unable find a way past the arms of a now national legend in Iceland’s Hannes Halldorsson. Great players respond well to adversity Lionel Messi is undoubtedly great, beware of a resounding comeback from the little genius.

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Connor Gibbons
Football fan and digital communications officer following Perth Glory during the 2017/2018 A-League season.