FIFA World Cup Opening Round Recap

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What a week of soccer we have just seen! The World Cup hasn’t let us down in the first round of group play and there has been shock and jubilation from the very start! Russia dominated Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the first game on Thursday to open the tournament. Day 2 was nothing short of amazing as Uruguay narrowly won over Egypt when José Giménez headed home a goal in the 89th minute of play and Iran did the same with their win over Morocco, Aziz Bouhaddouz scoring in the 95th minute of play. The third game of day two was Spain versus Portugal and once again, Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show and dazzled with a hat trick in the 3-3 draw. The man is from another planet.

Saturday saw France beat Australia 2-1 while Denmark narrowly beat a spirited Peru team by 1-0. Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Argentina were frustrated against Iceland and had to settle for a 1-1 draw while Croatia won comfortably against Nigeria 2-0.

On Sunday, Aleksandar Kolarov scored a stunning free kick to lead Serbia to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica. Favorites Brazil underwhelmed with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland. Neymar was invisible for much of the game, neutralized by the superb play of Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami. That was all before Mexico delivered the shock of the tournament by beating defending champions Germany 1-0 on goal from Hirving Lozano.

On Monday, Sweden beat South Korea 1-0 in arguably the most boring game of the tournament thus far and Belgium showed that they are to be taken seriously as they comfortably dismantled first-time participants Panama 3-0. England were saved in stoppage time by captain Harry Kane as he headed home a winner in stoppage time against Tunisia after he opened the scoring in the 11th minute.

Bringing us up to speed with our final games of the first round of group play was Japan winning against Colombia 2-1 after a stroke of good fortune in the 3rd minute of play when Colombia had a player sent off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, Shinji Kagawa scoring the resulting penalty kick.

Senegal looked impressive in their win over Poland and they appear to be the only African country at the World Cup that stands a decent chance of making some noise. We rounded back to Group A as Russia beat Egypt 3-1 in a fast-paced albeit somewhat sloppy game. The host country was looking strong as they took full control of the group.

As we head into the next round of group games, we will see Morocco face the red-hot Cristiano Ronaldo as they line up against Portugal on Wednesday. Next is Saudi Arabia versus Uruguay. If Uruguay were underwhelming in their opening game then Saudi Arabia were downright awful. If Uruguay can sort themselves out a bit, they should win easily. Lastly is Iran against Spain. Spain were fantastic to watch in their opening game against Portugal but when Ronaldo is hungry for goals there is no team in the world that can handle him. They should make quick work of Iran.

Keep an eye on the sometimes under-praised Isco for Spain. He was outstanding in the opener, pulling strings in midfield alongside David Silva. If there was one bright spot for Uruguay in their opener, it was the creativity and work rate of striker Edinson Cavani. He created several chances for his team and will look to do the same against Saudi Arabia if not get on the score sheet himself.

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Eddy Prugh is currently a professional soccer player from Montana. He plays for Skellefteå FF of Sweden’s Division 1 Norra and has spent time at The Colorado Springs Switchbacks of the United Soccer League and Bodens BK, another Swedish team. He spent one year playing at Oregon State University and has a love for the rain and laid-back lifestyle of the Northwest.

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