World Cup recap - Day 5
Day Five results;
Switzerland 1 - 0 Cameroon
Uruguay 0 - 0 South Korea
Portugal 3 - 2 Ghana
Brazil 2 - 0 Serbia
Things are starting to take shape as the first round of the group stage drew to a close at this year’s World Cup.
Last night gave us the opportunity to see the final unexposed teams at this year’s tournament and it included an impressive performance from pre-tournament favouirtes Brazil. The Brazilians easily accounted for Serbia in a game that included a stunning strike from Brazilian striker Richarlison.
The other big highlight of the night was when Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot, becoming the first man to score in five separate World Cup Finals. His Portuguese side survived a late scare as they saw their two goal lead reduced to one and gave up a golden opportunity that would have allowed Ghana to equalise.
In the other games, Uruguay and South Korea were both unable to capitalise on their chances as their game finished in a nil all draw and Switzerland put in an impressive performance against Cameroon.
Here are five things we learned as well as a look ahead to tonight’s games.
5 Things We Learned
Brazil Are Worthy Of Their Favouritism
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil showed why they are worthy of that mantle in their opening game of the tournament against Serbia this morning. It took until the 62nd minute for Brazil to finally break the deadlock, but once they did they played with much more confidence and attacking flair. Brazilian striker Richarlison scored two goals in 11 minutes, including a stunning volley that gave Brazil a two goal lead and ensured that Serbia had an insurmountable task ahead of them.
One of the features of Brazil’s game was how well they played when their substitutes came off the bench. With a two goal lead already secured, Brazilian manger Tite was able to bring on Fred, Rodrygo, Gabriel Jesus and Antony who all continued Brazil’s dominance and took further advantage of tired Serbian legs.
It was an ominous sign for Brazil’s future opponents in this World Cup as they didn’t allow a single shot on goal to a Serbian side that qualified ahead of Portugal in European Qualifying.
There is still improvement likely in Brazil’s game too, which is an exciting proposition as Brazilian football is amongst the most entertaining when it is fully flying. It looks like we will have plenty of opportunities to see what that looks like at this World Cup.
Ronaldo Adds Another Record To His Collection
Cristiano Ronaldo boasts one of the most impressive trophy cabinets in world football. In a career that has spanned three decades, Ronaldo has won individual and team awards in some of the world’s biggest leagues and traditionally translated his good form into games with his national team, Portugal.
Overnight, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score in five separate World Cup tournaments, which is testament to Ronaldo’s longevity in the game.
Controversy surround the circumstances that Ronaldo scored his goal, however, with the referee awarding a dubious penalty to Portugal, which allowed Ronaldo to claim the record from the spot.
Ghanain manager Otto Addo complained about the standard of refereeing in his sides 2 - 3 loss to Portugal, but it didn’t change the fact that Ronaldo and his compatriots will take three points into their upcoming games against South Korea and Uruguay.
Uruguay Can’t Get Past the Kim’s
When the team sheets came out before the game against Uruguay and South Korea, a strange peculiarity appeared on the Korean teamsheet. Each of the four defenders, plus the goalkeeper all shared the name Kim.
Kim is the most popular surname in South Korea, with 21.5% of the population bearing the name, but it was still an interesting occurance to see 5 players all playing in the back half of the pitch, each with the same name.
The cohesion amongst the Korean defence translated onto the pitch as they held out a star-studded Uruguayan lineup to a nil-all draw. Led by current and former Liverpool strikers, Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez, Uruguay created several chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net with any of them.
South Korea had their fair of opportunities too, as Korean striker in particular Ui-Jo Hwang missed a golden opportunity as he flashed the ball over the bar from just outside the 6-yard box.
In the end, neither side was able to score despite a flurry of chances and a relatively open game.
Uruguay and South Korean will both be looking to improve on their opening result as they each take on Portugal and Ghana in their next game respectively.
Portugal’s win opens the door for one of these sides to snatch the second qualification spot with good performances in their next two games, but Group H is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested groups at this year’s World Cup, so they will both need to be at their best if they are any hope to qualify.
Touching Moment The Highlight of Switzerland vs Cameroon
When Breel Embolo scored Switzerland’s solitary goal that resulted in a win against Cameroon, it looked at first as if the referee may have disallowed it. Embolo didn’t celebrate the goal and it was only when he was swamped by enthusiastic teammates did the realisation the goal actually counted fully set in.
It soon became clear that the reason that Embolo hadn’t celebrated the goal was out of respect for Cameroon, the nation of his birth. Not celebrating goals is something that we see in club football from time to time, as players want to show respect for clubs they formerly played with and still have great admiration for.
This is something that we haven’t seen much in International football though and in my opinion it was a welcome addition at this year’s World Cup. It was a touching moment to see Embolo refuse to celebrate what could be the most significant goal he has ever scored in his life out of respect for his birth nation.
The goal ended up being the difference in the game against Cameroon, but Embolo will have earned plenty of fans in his birth nation with his sign of respect for The Indomitable Lions.
9pm AEDT - WALES v IRAN
The second round of the group stage at this year’s World Cup begins tonight with a must-win clash between Wales and Iran. With England likely to sure up top spot and automatic qualification with a win against USA, both these teams will know that a draw will not suffice if they want to qualify for the knockout stages of this year’s tournament.
Iran will be looking to bounce back after a 6-2 drubbing against England. The Iranians did not give a good account of themselves in that game and are capable of playing at a much higher level.
Wales will want to capitalise on Iran’s poor form at this World Cup and improve their goal difference with a win by at least one goal against Iran.
With an emotionally charged match against neighbours England in their next match, the Welsh will want to sure up their position in Group B with a win against Iran and ensure that everything doesn’t rest on a win against an in-form English side.
As we look ahead to this game, it will be interesting to see whether Iran can bounce back from their big loss to England.
From a Welsh perspective, it remains to be seen whether Wales will come out in the form they showed in an impressive second half display against the USA, or whether they will allow Iran to control the game like they did the USA in the first half.
12am AEDT - QATAR v SENEGAL
After 12 years of buildup to this World Cup, the Qatari team would have been bitterly disappointed with their performance in their opening 2 - 0 loss to Ecuador. With controversy surrounding so many aspects of this year’s tournament, the Qataris would have been keen to get out on the pitch and show the world that they belong in the World Cup Finals.
Unfortunately for fans of the Qatar team, they did not do this in game one and will have had a couple of days to stew on their performance. It will be interesting to see whether they can bounce back from their initial disappointment and turn in a better performance against a Senegal side that impressed against the in-form Netherlands.
Despite the absence of captain Sadio Mané, Senegal created chance after chance and recorded 14 shots to the Netherlands 9 in their opening game, but were not able to score a single goal.
Senegal will have gained confidence from that opening performance and will feel that they have a good opportunity to draw level on points with Ecuador, should they win this game against Qatar.
Although they would have been immensely disappointed with the result in their opening game, I’m sure the Qatari fans will be back out in full force to cheer on their team and rescue the result of their first World Cup with an upset win against Senegal.
3am - AEDT - NETHERLANDS v ECUADOR
Both these sides will be looking to build on solid opening performances and continue their form into the second game of the night for Group A.
Ecuador left the home crowd stunned as they put two goals past Qatar at the opening game of this year’s World Cup. Thousands of empty seats could be seen in the stands during the second half of Qatar’s opening game, with Ecuador already having snagged a convincing two-goal lead into half time. Qatar will hope that their level of support returns to that seen at the start of their opening game, as they would have been incredibly deflated by the exodus of fans, many of whom had been waiting 12 years for this event.
Ecuador will be sweating on the fitness of captain and duel goalscorer Enner Valencia, who picked up a couple of knocks in the game against Qatar. Even if he does play, they will recognise that the challenge presented by the Netherlands will be much greater than that which they faced against Qatar.
6am AEDT - ENGLAND vs USA
England will be looking to continue their goal scoring form when they come up against the USA in the final game of tonight’s proceedings.
England fans were in raptures when they put six goals past Iran in their opening game, but will likely face a tougher task when they come up against the USA.
The American team put on an impressive first-half performance against Wales that saw them take a one goal lead into the half time break, but Wales were able to get well on top of the Americans in the second half of that game.
The USA will want to come out in the fashion they showed in the first half of their first game, or England will likely get a hold of them as well and it’s unlikely to only be a single goal that’s scored if that’s the case.
The Americans performed above many people’s expectations in the first half against Wales though, and if they can repeat that performance they will give the English a good run for their money.
England conceded two late goals in their opening game to Iran and although they recorded their biggest ever win in an opening game at the World Cup, they will hope those two goals aren’t signs of a leaky defence that will be more tested against their upcoming opponents.
With such an impressive performance in the first game, the English will be looking to build upon the positive momentum that they’ve created and a win against the USA will ensure top spot in their group. That will mean they can start to look ahead to the knockout stages of this year’s tournament and it will alleviate much of the pressure that Gareth Southgate and his players faced before the World Cup began.
It looks like there could be plenty of goals in each of the games that are on tonight. With the weekend finally here, there is more of a chance to sleep in tomorrow, so if you are yet to take in much of the late night action at this year’s tournament, tonight could be a good time to get on the couch with a cup of coffee and take in some of the action.