World Cupdates 2: The Leadup to Round of 16

Hasan Ahmed - Editor-In-Chief
Posted on: July 4, 2018

Welcome back to the updates for the World Cup.  I should mention that POETS is also playing the games on the projector during the tournament, so I recommend going down there and checking it out in between classes.
We last left off the updates after Croatia’s defeat of Nigeria 2-0. From there, Serbia and Costa Rica faced off and ended with a simple 1-0 finish in Serbia’s favour, their first opening game victory since 1998 when they competed on the Yugoslavian team against Iran. On the same day, Mexico and Germany faced off and ended with a 1-0 Mexico victory after a 35’ goal from Lozano, a bad start for the reigning champions. The day continued with a lull as Brazil tied Switzerland 1-1.
Sweden and South Korea faced off the next day, and reports say that the South Korean team switched jerseys during practice to trick any Swedish spies. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help as they fell 1-0. Belgium and Panama were scheduled to play next, and resulted in a dominant 3-0 finish by Belgium, but the fact that Panama drew five yellow cards probably didn’t help them. Tunisia and England ended off the day with a 2-1 English victory. Matchday 1 concluded on Tuesday the 19 after Japan and Senegal beat Colombia and Poland respectively 2-1.
Matchday 2 began with the host team Russia beating Egypt 3-1, which means they had scored more goals combined since their last two appearances (2002 and 2014). Portugal and Morocco ended in a 1-0 victory for Portugal, but Spain answered back with their own 1-0 victory over Iran, keeping the gap between them narrow. Uruguay also defeated Saudi Arabia, obtaining their second win of the tournament.
Denmark and Australia faced off and ended with a 1-1 draw, while their groupmates France and Peru ended in a 1-0 victory for the French team. However their games were overshadowed by the incredible 3-0 Croatian victory over Argentina, putting the Argentinians in a tight spot to qualify for the round of 16. Brazil and Costa Rica played the following day, ending with a 2-0 victory for Brazil. Both goals were scored in stoppage time of the second half. Nigeria also showed their skill against Iceland, defeating them 2-0. To end off the day, Switzerland and Serbia finished off a heated 2-1 game, as Switzerland scored their winning goal in the 90’ minute.
Kicking off the weekend of June 23, Belgium obliterated Tunisia 5-2, and Tunisia has not won in their last 13 World Cup matches. Mexico also provided a swift 2-1 defeat of the South Korean team, and with the German victory over Sweden 2-1 on the same day, things started to shape up for the previous champions. To cap off the weekend and Matchday 2, England defeated Panama in a shocking 6-1 score, their biggest ever win in a tournament match. Senegal also prevented their first loss to the Japanese team, tying the game 2-2. Colombia ended Poland’s World Cup run by defeating them 3-0, which marked Poland as the first country to be eliminated from the competition.
Matchday 3, and all the major eliminations, began with a Saudi victory over Egypt 2-1, although neither team qualified for the round of 16. Their qualifying groupmates, Uruguay and Russia, ended in a commanding 3-0 Uruguay victory. Iran and Portugal also tied their game, which was good for the Spanish team, as they also tied Morocco, keeping their gap between Portugal close. The Portuguese team almost had a 1-0 victory, but a penalty kick in the 93’ minute made the tie. A quick play after that by the Iranian team almost resulted in another goal, but unfortunately the shot was at a tight angle and hit the side of the net. Spain also had the shot of being seeded second in their group, but the tying goal by Iago Aspas in the 91’ minute secured their top seed in group B. The following matches between Australia and Peru (0-2) and Denmark and France (0-0) were boring to say the least, since everyone’s minds were fixated on the Nigeria vs. Argentina and Croatia vs. Iceland matches. Would this be the end of Messi and Argentina’s run? It was close, as Croatia narrowly defeated Iceland 2-1 after a 90’ minute goal by Ivan Perisic. Argentina was approaching the 86’ minute with a 1-1 draw. Messi’s 14’ minute goal was overshadowed by a penalty kick in the 51’ minute by Victor Moses. However, a beautiful cross by Gabriel Mercado in the 86’ minute provided a shot from Marcos Rojo to enter the bottom right of the net, securing Argentina’s victory and their place in the round of 16. You know it’s an important goal when Messi himself jumps on your back to celebrate.
The antics didn’t stop there. Just the next day, Sweden surprised the world with a 3-0 victory over Mexico. Not only that, but South Korea defeated the German team 2-0. This shifted around the group quite a bit, and the German team was eliminated from the competition. This is a well-known curse. The champions tend to have bad subsequent world cups (at least recently) by getting knocked out in group stages. The 1998 champions, France, exited the group stages in 2002. Same thing happened with 2006 champions Italy and 2010 champions Spain. Glad to see Germany following traditions.
Matchday 3 ended with a tie (2-2) between Switzerland and Costa Rica, Brazil defeating Serbia 2-0, a few 1-0 victories from Colombia, Poland, and Belgium (over Senegal, Japan, and England respectively), and a Tunisian victory over Panama 2-1. This sets up the round of 16. We will be having France vs. Argentina, Uruguay vs. Portugal, Spain vs. Russia, Croatia vs. Denmark, Brazil vs. Mexico, Belgium vs. Japan, Sweden vs. Switzerland, and Colombia vs. England. In the final update, I will be covering the rest of the tournament.

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