World Cupppppp

Looking back at the World Cup group stage’s most important moments

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Introduction

The World Cup is underway! One of the largest sporting events of all time, it gathers billions of viewers from every corner of the globe. However, the World Cup does not come without its controversies. For starters, the host nation, Qatar, has an incredibly warm climate, so the tournament had to be moved to November. Typically, the World Cup takes place over the summer. Another major talking point is Qatar’s human rights problems which have distracted from the magic and joy that the World Cup brings. Currently, we are in the group stage round of the World Cup which consists of thirty-two teams divided into eight groups of four. In each group, the four teams play each other one time meaning that every team will play three times in the groups. Teams earn a certain number of points based on their results: three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero points for a loss. After every game has been played the top two teams with the most points in each group move on to the playoffs. The ranking inside these groups is very important because it will determine the level of competition that the team will face next. For example, the team who finished first in group A will play the second-place team from Group B. An example of this is the 2018 World Cup where Argentina placed second in their group behind Croatia, and instead of playing Denmark had to play France, who then beat Argentina. From here the tournament is a bracket-style single-elimination playoff all the way until the final. 

Group Stage Review

 

Group A

Enner Valencia celebrates after scoring against Qatar

The first match of the tournament included the host team Qatar and the South American side Ecuador. Before this game, the host team had never lost the opening match of a World Cup, however, this would soon change as Ecuador exhibited an ability to finish in front of goal that the host country did not possess. The match ended 2-0, and Ecuador and their Striker Enner Valencia were able to score the opening goal of the tournament and get the win. Qatar would go on to lose their other two group-stage games against Senegal and The Netherlands meaning a winless tournament for the host country and an early exit. Ecuador went on to tie The Netherlands and lose to Senegal late, showing the young team’s ability and giving the country something to look forward to in the future. The Netherlands and Senegal finished top 2 in the group and advanced, both winning two games and either drawing or losing another. Group A ended up pretty much as expected with the more talented sides both moving on.

 

Group B

Christian Pulisic scores to give the United States a 1-0 lead over Iran

The United States vs England was by far the most anticipated match of the group due to the deep-rooted rivalry stretching back to the American Revolution. Along with the rivalry, many believed the current U.S. team had a decent chance to beat England, and therefore the excitement behind the game and team exploded around America. The game ended up drawing in a match a lot less exciting than many hoped with both teams unable to score. England went on to beat Iran and Wales, the other two teams in the group fairly easily, securing the top spot in the group. However, for the U.S. an opening tie to Wales meant they must have a win in their final game against Iran. The United States was able to get a 1-0 victory, once again showing their ability to control a game yet lack true goal-scoring threats. This did however secure them the second spot in the group and meant Wales and Iran were heading out of the World Cup and England and the U.S. would be advancing.

In the process of scoring against Iran, Pulisic crashed into the Iranian goalkeeper, suffering a pelvic contusion. However, when asked if he would be able to play in the United States knockout stage game he said

Best believe I’ll be ready on Saturday”

— Christian Pulisic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group C

Messi’s signature celebration

The Most notable game in Group C was Argentina’s early 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia. Argentina was dominant most of the game however they lacked clinical finishing. Saudi Arabia was much the opposite and took advantage of the few chances they had securing arguably the biggest win in the country’s history. The Saudi Arabian government even went on to declare the day after a national holiday. This meant Argentina’s other two games, Mexico and Poland were massive. Argentina showed up against both teams like many expected they would and exhibited dominating performances built on possession and the soccer genius of Messi. As for the rest of the teams in the group, Poland and Mexico both finished on 4 points however Poland’s superior goal differential put the European side through.

 

Group D

Mbappe and Giroud share a passionate embrace

France pretty much dominated the attention in Group D. The defending World Cup champions started their tournament off by conceding a goal to Australia then went on to score four of their own. Some were worried that injuries to France’s 2018 stars such as Pogba and Kante would have a major impact on the French side. It now seems that this belief was anything but close. The young star Tchouameni who replaced the injured Kante has shone in the Midfield combining with the experienced Griezmann in what seems to be a seriously threatening midfield partnership. Speaking of young talent, Mbappe continues to show why many believe he’s the current best player in the world, scoring goals whenever and wherever he desires. France winning their first two games proved enough to clinch the number one spot in the group. As for Australia, they were able to win their final two games and qualify in second place behind France, meaning Tunisia and Denmark were going. For Denmark, it was a pretty disappointing showing as the Danish side was hoping to follow up their deep Euros run by at least making the knockout stage of the World Cup.

 

Group E

Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma just barely keeps the ball in play helping assist Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain
Japan players celebrate their 2-1 upset victory against Germany

Group E had some of the most riveting games on the group stage. For starters, Japan upset soccer giants Spain and Germany, beating both teams 2-1. These victories were an absolute shock as Japan is known to have a fairly decent team, but not at the level that is high enough to beat both Germany and Spain. The upsets allowed Japan to finish top of the group, something that not many people would have predicted. Even more shockingly, Germany was knocked out of the group stage for the second World Cup in a row. Germany has a very strong team that combines up-and-coming young talent with veteran players, a combination that seems like it would produce a fearsome team that would go far in a World Cup. However, this was not the case as Germany crashed out of the groups in dramatic fashion. Costa Rica, who despite their small size still managed to qualify for the tournament, finished last in the group. This group was host to a vast number of young talents who all have large expectations ahead of them. Spanish midfielders Pedri Gonzalez (20 years old) and Pablo Gavi (18 years old) both played key roles in their team making it out of the group stage and proved that they are valuable young players who are eager to perform at the highest stage. Germany’s Jamal Musiala dazzled the world with his stunning footwork, gliding past defenders with ease. Overall, it will definitely be interesting to see how far Japan is able to take this run and to see if Spain is able to live up to their large expectations. 

 

Group F

Morocco players are ecstatic to lead against Belgium

This group saw another major upset when Morocco beat Belgium 2-0. This Belgium team is said to be the golden generation of Belgian soccer because of the large number of talented players that are on this team. However, the team has not lived up to expectations and has consistently underachieved in major tournaments in the past few years. Morocco is not known for having a good team, but with the help of some star players like Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, Morocco finished top of the group. Croatia has boasted a deceivingly strong team over the past few years, even making it to the World Cup final in 2018, so it was no surprise that they were able to make it out of the group. However, the surprise came when Belgium failed to make it out of the group stage after a poor performance against Croatia. Unfortunately for Canada, who made it to their first World Cup ever, they finished last in the group with three losses. 

 

Group G

Brazil’s Richarlison scores a beautiful ariel volley in their first game of the World Cup

Brazil is one of the favorites to win this year’s World Cup and they won the group in commanding fashion, despite losing to Cameroon in their final game. It did not matter however because Brazil was already confirmed to go through. In the first game that Brazil played, one of their many star forwards scored a beautiful aerial volley that is one of the best goals of the tournament and set the standard for Brazil. Known for their attacking flair, dancing, care-free playstyle the Brazilian team has some of the best attacking forwards: Neymar, Richarlison, Raphinha, Vinicius Jr, and Martinelli are just a few of the star players in Brazil’s attack. Brazil has everything they need to make a deep run in the tournament and has the potential to win the whole tournament. Besides the stunning form of Brazil, Group G also saw Switzerland make it out of the group stage. Switzerland is another one of those teams, who despite their small country size, have a very good soccer team. Unfortunately, Serbia and Cameroon both were unable to make it out of the group stage. 

Brazilian players dance together after scoring on Serbia

 

Group H

Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Felix celebrate after Ronaldo scored against Ghana. This goal means that Ronaldo is now the only player to score in five different World Cups.

Although you would expect Portugal to dominate a group including Ghana, South Korea, and Uruguay, the gap between the 4 teams is anything but large. Going further, experts believed that Group H was up for anyone’s taking. However, because of Portugal’s national fame and the recent controversy surrounding their star Player Cristiano Ronaldo, it seems only fair we highlight their path to the top spot. Portugal began the group stage with a game against Ghana Ronaldo was able to knock home a penalty and midfielder Bruno Fernandes delivered for the team with two assists pushing the Portuguese side past the Ghana threat in a 3-2 victory. They were then able to beat Uruguay fairly easily in a 2-0 victory leaving them with a final game against South Korea. Portugal went on to lose this game meaning South Korea took the second knockout spot in the group and the Ghana vs. Uruguay game was meaningless.

 

The group stage was certainly entertaining with major upsets, high-scoring games, and spectacular goals. With the teams set and prepared to move on to the knockout stages, the suspense and entertainment will only increase as each team will play with even more passion. Since the games are single-elimination every game must have a winner which creates even more suspense. The stage is set, and it looks like Qatar will be a World Cup to remember.