A week after World Cup kicked off in Russia, many predictions by soccer pundits and fans have gone wrong.
The most astonishing among them is the case of Russia (pictured – Photo courtesy: Sputnik) which was described as the country’s worst ever team and ranked the lowest by FIFA. But the passion, speed, energy, confidence, teamwork and scoring skills they have displayed in the matches with Saudi Arabia and Egypt make one think they may reach quarter finals and even the semis. Mexico and Croatia are two other teams which have displayed the same verve.
Unfancied Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Iceland and Senegal have left Spain, Portugal, England, Argentina and Poland respectively shaken.
Champions Germany had a reputation for team work and their 1-0 loss to Mexico was the most shocking. If Germany loses to Sweden on June 23, they will be out of 2018 World Cup.
The success of teams like Portugual, Brazil, Argentina and England in the matches ahead may depend less on team work and more on individuals like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar da Silva, Lionel Messi or Harry Kane. If they fail to deliver, these teams are likely to find the going tough as it happened to Egypt.
Media and fans build a hype around its star player Mohamed Salah. But when he finally appeared for the crucial match against Russia, he could not do much. The penalty kick, which he converted, came as a face-saver for him in the second half.
Spain, who played quality football against Portugal on June 15, looked troubled in their game against Iran on June 20. Although Spain dominated the game, Iranians kept attacking their goalmouth and would have scored a couple of goals if their headers and shots were on target. Spanish striker Diego Costa is closely behind Ronaldo in the Golden Boot race.
On Day 8 (June 21) of World Cup, Argentina will be facing Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod. The players cannot afford to make the same mistake they did in their match against Iceland by expecting Messi to work wonders. Croats are a talented lot and Argentinians have to combine well and make use of chances if they want to top Group D.
Like Argentina, England too cannot pin their hopes on one player, captain Kane, to deliver when they clash with talented Belgium at Kaliningrad on 28 June.