Argentina, Germany, and Brazil all went into their respective games this weekend as sizeable favorites. It’s the 16th World Cup to include the three giants and it’s the first time none of the three won their opening game.
So what happened…
Argentina 1 Iceland 1
After Ronaldo’s heroics against Spain the day before, the entire world wondered what Messi would do. Aguero got the scoring started for Argentina, but Iceland quickly equalized and did what they do best: Defend. As the game progressed, Messi and Argentina seemed to get more and more frustrated. At times it seemed like Messi was playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders and his missed PK only added to that burden. His disappointments with Argentina have been well documented, but this is not the first time Iceland has frustrated a superior team (see Portugal and England). While it obviously isn’t the best start, I don’t think its time for Argentina to panic. I would be shocked if Messi didn’t score in Argentina’s next game against Croatia.
Germany 0 Mexico 1
From the second this game kicked off Germany was in trouble. Mexico’s ability to counter attack off of turnovers in the midfield was on display countless times in the first half and was ultimately how they scored. Germany’s midfield of Kroos and Khedira often left the backline of Hummels and Boateng on an island. I found Khedira’s performance particularly disappointing and wouldn’t be surprised to see him dropped for the next game. Leon Goretzka would be a nice option to take his place. The track record of the previous World Cup winner getting knocked out in the group stage will certainly have Germany’s attention heading forward.
Brazil 1 Switzerland 1
Brazil looked to be rolling after Coutinho’s ridiculous goal in the first half. It was Switzerland, however, which responded better after the goal. I thought Neymar looked about as good as expected given the the lengthy injury time he is coming back from. It was pretty clear Switzerland’s strategy was to just kick Neymar and for the most part the referee let them get away with it. Switzerland’s goal off the corner kick probably should have been disallowed for a push in the back but VAR was not used.
While it makes the rest of the group games a tad more interesting, I still expect each of these teams to advance out of the group. With just two more groups left to debut, the World Cup has gotten off to a great start in my opinion. Let’s hope things continue that way.
Sweden – South Korea 7 AM CT
Prediction: 1 – 1 draw
Belgium Panama 10 AM CT
Prediction: 3 – 0 Belgium
England Tunisia 1 PM CT
Prediction: 2 – 0 England