We have finally arrived at the 2018 world soccer summit. I hope you’re enjoying the matches in person or on TV. The first game in each group has been played and we would like to offer a brief summary and some coaching insights.
The biggest upset without a doubt has been Mexico’s 1-0 win over defending champion Germany. That is if you’re not the Mexican team or coach. My insider information says that Mexico had prepared a game plan for each game six months ago. They have updated it as they watched Germany prepare for the tournament.
Another big upset was Iceland tying Argentina 1-1. Iceland seems to have picked up in the World Cup where it left Euro 2016. Playing disciplined defense with quick and precise counter attacks. And they had opportunities to even win the game. How does a nation of 330,000 covered in snow most of the year compete with a power house like Argentina? By declaring soccer their national sport some 15 years ago and focussing all their resources on player and team development, and building the necessary infrastructure to play year round.
My last big upset is Switzerland tying Brazil 1-1. Brazil started strong but went to sleep in the second half. There is no explanation for this one.
Iran beating Morocco was not expected. Japan’s win over Columbia is a surprise from a strict result perspective, but Columbia being down to 10 men and 1-0 after three minutes explains a bit of the result. And Senegal’s win over Poland is not a total shocker but Poland’s talent, especially top striker Lewandowski, should have assured Poland of a result.
Some of the heavy favourites were stumped by brilliant game tactics, total commitment, and some bad luck – but they won their games. In this category belong England’s 2-1 win over Tunesia in added time, Sweden’s 1-0 win over Korea, France’s 2-1 win over Australia, and Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Egypt without Salah.
So nine of the sixteen first match day games provided some unexpected events. And that is the beauty of the beautiful game – you just never know. So keep watching.