The Iron Warrior is covering the World Cup matches! Here will be summaries of the games that go on throughout the tournament, as well as recap of important moments. The games covered in this issue are the June 14-16 matches.
Russia and Saudi Arabia were the first to face off on Thursday June 14, and it was a very convincing 5-0 for the host team. This continued the trend that no host team has ever lost their opening match. This is also the second largest goal gap victory for a host team in the opening match since 1934 where Italy took down USA 7-1.
Following that match, Egypt and Uruguay faced off, and thanks to a clutch 89 minute goal by Jose Maria Gimenez, Uruguay took the game 1-0. Controversy surrounded Egyptian forward Mohamad Salah, who was benched although he was expected to play. Coming off an injury from the UEFA Champion’s League final in May where he dislocated his shoulder, the lack of presence may have cost the Egyptian team the first game, although he is set to play against Russia for their second game. We can all agree that this wasn’t the best way for him to spend his birthday though.
Morocco and Iran also had a very tight game going into stoppage time, where Moroccan substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz scored on his own goal, resulting in an Iran win. The last time a substitute did this was back in 2006 when Portugal’s Petit against Germany. Despite not attempting a single shot in the second half, Iran was able to win off of this costly mistake, adding momentum to their team going into their next match against Spain.
Speaking of Spain, they faced off against Portugal, which was one of the most exciting matches of the day. Both teams are incredibly strong, but Portugal got off to a quick and easy start from a penalty goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Spain took a 3-2 lead later into the game, a hat-trick by Ronaldo allowed the game to end in a draw. He has become the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments, and the fourth player to score in four different World Cup tournaments (behind Pele, Uwe Seeler, and Miroslave Klose). As a result of this match, Spain has only won their first game twice in two of their last thirteen World Cup tournaments. In 2010, they lost to Switzerland first round, but won every following match to win the cup. Maybe they can emulate that this year.
France faced off against Australia and took it 2-1, which marks the fourth consecutive World Cup where they have won their first match. Australia, on the other hand, has lost four of their last five opening matches. Their only win came against Japan in 2006.
Argentina played Iceland today as well, and despite the expected Argentinian victory, a missed penalty by Lionel Messi in the 64th minute resulted in a draw. Although this may seem like a rookie mistake, Messi has missed four of his last seven penalties. Not only that, but he had eleven shots on goal throughout the match, while manager Jorge Sampaoli was blamed as well for not making appropriate substitutions and decisions. Iceland didn’t even record a single shot in the second half of the match, while Argentina recorded 16, so some improvements are definitely required. This is the first time Argentina did not win their opening game since 1990’s loss against Cameroon.
Denmark and Peru faced off and Denmark came out victorious after a 59 minute goal by Yussuf Poulsen. This awarded them their fourth out of five first-game victories in the last five World Cups. Peru, on the other hand, has lost their last seven.
The final match of the day was Croatia vs. Nigeria, which ended in a decisive 2-0 victory for Croatia. An own goal in minute 32 by Oghenekaro Etebo along with a 71 minute goal from Luka Modrić gave Croatia their first opening game victory since their 1998 debut against Jamaica where they won 3-1.
Up next are Group F-H matches for matchday 1, which will then lead into the next part of the tournament. The next issue will cover up until the Round of 16, and the final article of the issue will cover the rest of the tournament. Go cheer for your team in the world’s most popular sport!