2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 10:30 am #1

The latest edition of the FIFA Men's World Cup is upon us, however, the fanfare in the US isn't as high this time, obviously because the US had failed to qualify, that nightmare of a result in Trinidad & Tobago forever cementing the international careers of the previous generation. It will be the middle part of a series of World Cup host selections. Russia getting the bid raised eyebrows over multiple issues, but they made everything ready for tournament in time (but not as bad as the 2022 Qatar bid). Also newly announced today, FIFA has awarded the joint North America bid for 2026, US, Canada and Mexico  (A bit of controversy because the other contender, Morocco was viewed as the favorite going into a few weeks ago with UEFA backing them, but Trump went on Twitter and complained, and come today, North America got rewarded the bid in an overwhelming decision).

But back to the current one which starts tomorrow morning (it's all morning games due to time difference) Fox has the English rights through 2026 and Telemundo has the Spanish rights. One poor decision is that Fox won't have replay options much for most of the games unless you pay and subscribe Fox Soccer Plus. It appears that Telemundo will have replays of certain games if not all in primetime and also available through their parent company's app (NBC Sports).

Below will be the schedule and then going through each group. Will provide some analysis on each group this afternoon and tonight.

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 3:09 pm #2


Thursday, June 14
Opening ceremony 10/10:30 a.m. EDT 7/7:30 a.m. PDT
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT – Group A Russia vs. Saudi Arabia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
Friday, June 15
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT  – Group A Egypt vs. Uruguay FS1/TELEMUNDO (Yekaterinburg)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT –  Group B Morocco vs. Iran FOX/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group B Portugal vs. Spain FOX/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
Saturday, June 16
  • 6 a.m. EDT 3 a.m. PDT – Group C France vs. Australia FS1/TELEMUNDO (Kazan)
  • 9 a.m. EDT 6 a.m. PDT – Group D Argentina vs. Iceland FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 12 p.m. EDT 9 a.m. PDT – Group C Peru vs. Denmark FS1/TELEMUNDO (Saransk)
  • 3 p.m.EDT 12 p.m. PDT  – Group D Croatia vs. Nigeria FS1/TELEMUNDO (Kaliningrad)
Sunday, June 17
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group E Costa Rica vs. Serbia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT  – Group F Germany vs. Mexico FS1/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group E Brazil vs. Switzerland FS1/NBCSN/TELEMUNDO (Rostov-on-Don)
Monday, June 18
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group F Sweden vs. South Korea FS1/TELEMUNDO (Nizhny Novgorod)
  • 11 a.m.EDT 8 a.m. PDT  – Group G Belgium vs. Panama FS1/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group G Tunisia vs. England FS1/TELEMUNDO (Volgograd)
Tuesday, June 19
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group H Colombia vs. Japan FS1/TELEMUNDO (Saransk)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT – Group H – Poland vs. Senegal FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group A Russia vs. Egypt FOX/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)

     Wednesday, June 20
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group B Portugal vs. Morocco FS1/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 11 a.m.EDT 8 a.m. PDT  – Group A Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Rostov-on-Don)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group B Iran vs. Spain FOX/TELEMUNDO (Kazan)
Thursday, June 21
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group C Denmark vs. Australia FS1/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT – Group C France vs. Peru FOX/TELEMUNDO (Yekaterinburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group D Argentina vs. Croatia FOX/TELEMUNDO Nizhny Novgorod)
Friday, June 22
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group E Brazil vs. Costa Rica (FS1/TELEMUNDO) St Petersburg)
  • 11 a.m.EDT 8 a.m. PDT  – Group D Nigeria vs. Iceland FOX/TELEMUNDO (Volgograd)
  • 2 p.m. – EDT 11 a.m. PDT–  Group E Serbia vs Switzerland FOX/TELEMUNDO (Kaliningrad)
Saturday, June 23
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT –  Group G Belgium vs. Tunisia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.n. PDT – Group F South Korea vs. Mexico FOX/TELEMUNDO (Rostov-on-Don)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group F Germany vs. Sweden FOX/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
Sunday, June 24
  • 8 a.m. EDT 5 a.m. PDT – Group G England vs. Panama FS1/TELEMUNDO (Nizhny Novgorod)
  • 11 a.m. EDT 8 a.m. PDT – Group H Japan vs. Senegal FOX/TELEMUNDO (Yekaterinburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group H Poland vs. Colombia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Kazan)
Monday, June 25
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group A Uruguay vs. Russia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 10 a.m.EDT 7 a.m. PDT  – Group A Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt FS1/NBCUniverso (Volgograd)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group B Spain vs. Morocco FS1/NBCUniverso (Kaliningrad)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group B Iran vs. Portugal FOX/TELEMUNDO (Saransk)
Tuesday, June 26
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group C Australia vs. Peru FS1/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group C Denmark vs. France FOX/NBCUniverso (Moscow)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group D Nigeria vs. Argentina FOX/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group D Iceland vs. Croatia FS1/NBCUniverso (Rostov-on-Don)
Wednesday, June 27
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group F South Korea vs. Germany FS1/NBCUniverso (Kazan)
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group F Mexico vs. Sweden FOX/TELEMUNDO (Yekaterinburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT–  Group E Serbia vs. Brazil FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 2 p.m.EDT 11 a.m. PDT– Group E Switzerland vs. Costa Rica FS1/NBCUniverso (Nizhny Novgorod)

    Thursday, June 28
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group H Japan vs. Poland FS1/NBCUniverso (Volgograd)
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Group H Senegal vs. Colombia FOX/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11a.m. PDT –  Group G Panama vs. Tunisia FS1/NBCUniverso (Saransk)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Group G England vs. Belgium FOX/TELEMUNDO (Kaliningrad)
Knockout stage – Round of 16 schedule
Saturday, June 30
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Match 50: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Kazan)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 49: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
Sunday, July 1
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Match 51: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11a.m. PDT – Match 52: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Nizhny Novgorod).
Monday, July 2
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Match 53: Group E winner vs. Group F runner-up FS1/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 54: Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Rostov-on-Don)
Tuesday, July 3
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT–  Match 55: Group F winner vs. Group E runner-up FS1/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 56: Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
Knockout stage – Quarterfinal schedule
Friday, July 6
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Match 57: (Match 49 winner vs. Match 50 winner) FS1/TELEMUNDO (Nizhny Novgorod)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 58: (Match 53 winner vs. Match 54 winner) FS1/TELEMUNDO (Kazan)
Saturday, July 7
  • 10 a.m. EDT 7 a.m. PDT – Match 60: (Match 55 winner vs. Match 56 winner) FOX/TELEMUNDO (Samara)
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT –Match 59: (Match 51 winner vs. Match 52 winner) FOX/TELEMUNDO (Sochi)
World Cup semifinals schedule
Tuesday, July 10
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m.PDT  – Match 61: (Match 57 winner vs. Match 58 winner) FOX/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)
Wednesday, July 11
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 62: (Match 59 winner vs. Match 60 winner) FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)
World Cup third-place match
Saturday, July 14
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 61 loser vs. Match 62 loser FOX/TELEMUNDO (St Petersburg)
2018 World Cup Final
Sunday, July 15
  • 2 p.m. EDT 11 a.m. PDT – Match 61 winner vs. Match 62 winner FOX/TELEMUNDO (Moscow)

Joined: December 24th, 2011, 4:57 pm

June 13th, 2018, 3:30 pm #3

I am going to a watch party tomorrow. It's just not the same without the USA in it. I am bummed that this probably means Clint Dempsey will not play in another World Cup. 

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 4:31 pm #4

BeefEater2 wrote: I am going to a watch party tomorrow. It's just not the same without the USA in it. I am bummed that this probably means Clint Dempsey will not play in another World Cup. 
If you have watched any of the warmup friendlies this month, there was not 1 veteran on the roster, the agenda has already switched to the next generation of players, which sorely needs to be done.

Aiming at players from U17 to U23 level to prepare for Qatar. There were glimpses of hope and also a lot of work still needed to be done with this group with their recent results. A 3-0 home win over the Bolivian 4th team. 1-2 loss away vs an aging Rep of Ireland side and an interesting away 1-1 draw to one of the World Cup favs France.

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 6:52 pm #5

Group A

The host group is an interesting group. It seems like it was designed... err drawn to favor the hosts, but it is wide open. South Americans Uruguay with Barcelona's former infamous biter, Luis Suarez look to make one final push to bring his club back to glory are the favorites in the group. They've only had 1 warmup match, a 3-0 win over Uzbekistan which leaves things open on what could happen in this group.

Russia, the hosts are the 2nd lowest ranked team in the tournament heading into the the tournament. They've had a poor Euro 2016, and poor Confederations Cup, and what was needed to be a good warm up year heading into tomorrow was mired by a whole lot of injuries. As hosts, they are a fan favorite, an underdog, but they'll have to prove themselves worthy to still advance to the knockout round in such a group. A 0-1 away loss to Austria and a draw with Turkey in warmups isn't impressive.

Egypt is an underdog fan favorite for sure especially with the prospects that Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah will be ready for the opening match after this dislocated shoulder from Sergio Ramos in the UEFA Champions League final just over 2 weeks ago. But Egypt is a sturdy team and could be a test and potential team to make it to the knockout stages. They also have who could be the oldest player to play in a World Cup in 45 year old Essam El-Hadary. Watch closely on The Pharaohs this tournament.They're coming off warmup results 1-1 v Kuwait 0-0 v Colombia 0-3 v Belgium.

The Saudis was the 2nd Asian team and one of the earliest ticket punchers. They're the lowest ranked team heading in but they proved themselves tough with close 2-1 losses to Italy and Germany but also a 0-3 result against Peru. Russia could have their work cut out for them tomorrow on day 1 if they're not careful, they could go crashing out early.

1 Russia 2 2 0 0 8 1 +7 6 Advances; wins group with draw with Uruguay
2 Uruguay 2 2 0 0 1 0 +1 6 Advances; wins group with win over Russia
3 Egypt 2 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0 Eliminated
4 Saudi Arabia 2 0 0 2 0 6 -6 0 Eliminated
Matchday 1
Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0
RUS Yury Gazinsky 12' Denis Cheryshev 43' 90+1' Artem Dzyuba 71' Aleksandr Golovin 90+4'
Usually for opening matchday, the opening ceremony catches the eye, but for this opening day, the result of the match was mindblowing. Yes, Russia is the home team and Saudi Arabia is the weakest team in the tournament, but despite being tough, not even their manager, former Chilean manager Juan Antonio Pizzi could conocote a remedy for what had befallen them today. Yes, Russia is the 2nd weakest opponent, a side befuddled with injuries (and they suffered another crucial injury today) and no wins in their last 7 matches, but there seemed to be some magic today as the Russian's inspired the Moscow crowd with a rout of their opponent 5-0. It was thought to be a close match, but the Saudi defense was wretched. The Saudis had better play vs the hosts, the Russians sat back in defense but their counters, which seemed to be mediocre at best were converted, the the scoring train just rolled on. Russia had 4 different scorers, Aleksandr Golovin was the man of the match, not only scoring a wicked free kick at the end of the game, but made most of the plays to score happen. Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored the 2nd and 4th goals coming in for the injured Alan Dzagoev who pulled his left hamstring less than 25 minutes into the match without contact. A disappointment for the veteran who missed several major competitions including Euro 2016 and is likely done for the tournament. Cheryshev scored a great patient goal for the 2nd goal before halftime and what looked to be a lazy chip that became a jaw dropper just inside injury time at the end. The Russians who were not expected to do much home and abroad now have a dream start and Russia is rocking at the wide open door for them to get through the group. Saudi Arabia will need to figure out what went wrong today to try to save themselves from any early exit. Russian President Vladmir Putin sat with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the Saudi Crown Prince. Every time a goal was scored, the cameras showed their reactions, of course Putin having the best ones... as the winning side...
Russia plays Egypt next and Saudi Arabia plays Uruguay.
Matchday 2 for Group A will see Uruguay vs Egypt to finish the Group's first round.

Egypt 0 Uruguay 1
URU Jose Gimenez 89'
Mohamed Salah did not play as it was a good bout between both sides, of course the Uruguayans were better, but both sides had their chances. Luis Suarez had a strike go through in the 23rd only to be waived offside. Both teams intensified their attacks on goal in the mid to late portions of the 2nd half. Uruguay was relentless in the final 5 minutes forcing some spectacular saves from Mohamed El-Shenawy, but Uruguay finally broke through in the 89th as a corner was headed in by Jose Gimenez, just enough time for them to take the 3 points. Egypt will be disappointed they weren't able to get the split, and know they will be in position for match 2 against the hot hosts Russia. Uruguay knows they'll need strong results to not get knocked off course. The easy group doesn't look as easy.

Matchday 2

Russia 3 Egypt 1
RUS Ahmed Fathy 47' (OG), Denis Cheryshev 59', Artem Dzyuba 62' EGY Mohamed Salah 73' (P)
The hosts put up another dominate performance despite Egypt doing everything to fight for the World Cup lives, but ultimately, this mediocre Russian squad has worked wonders in 2 matches of this tournament. Mohamend Salah finally made his debut and had a couple good attempts that just went wide in the first half. It was even at half with neither side finding the net. But as the 2nd half got underway, there was controversy when a Russian shot ricochet off Egypt's Ahmed Fathy into his own goal. Looking at the replay, clearly he was pulled down by the Russian player in front of him. But the referee refused to look into the play and the goal was given to Russia. Things got even worse for Egypt in the 59th when some slick Russian passes found the gaps into the box to Denis Cheryshev who put away his 3rd goal of the tournament. Artem Dzyuba added his 2nd of the tournament 3 minutes later after catching a long ball into the box beat a defender and sent it into goal and all was but lost for Egypt. In the 72nd Mohamed Salah was brought down on a light touch as he was making his move in the box, and the PK was given to which he converted which a powerful shot. Egypt made more desperate attempt to score again  but were either denied by the Russian defense or calls not given by the referee, in the end there just wasn't enough time for them to overcome a 3 goal deficit. The win put Russia through to the Round of 16 and Egypt needed a big loss by Uruguay to stay alive. But with the result, sprung more controversy on how this mediocre Russian squad could perform this well, dominating the competition when the powerhouses have struggled. Well for now, that is still up for speculation and conspiracy theories, but all that matters for the hosts now is that they'll be moving on.

Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0
URU Luis Suarez 23'
Juan Antonio Pizzi made a number of changes after their 0-5 drumming in the opener, there were also rumors that the Saudi Sports Minister was preparing massive punishments for the team upon their return to the country (I wouldn't want to speculate what those punishments may be). They needed a win and despite a defensive setup, the Saudis came out with purpose. Uruguay who had a more offensive formation could not get the possession and had to rely on counters, often their passing were broken up by the Saudis who found better accuracy on their offensive sets, but unable to get the goal. The moment of the match came in the 23rd off an Uruguayan corner. Saudi's keeper committed and completely read the ball wrong punching the air (he may have lost sight of the ball as Godin skied to head it and blocked the view) and the ball went all the way through where Luis Suarez created space off a defender and finished the ball into the open goal. It was a play for the keeper to forget, a nightmare perhaps if they couldn't rebound. The Saudi's had plenty of quality opportunities to equalize and calls that the referee could have given penalties, but ultimately they could not find the net. Uruguay also failed to capitalize on their opportunities when they had them. It was not a convincing result for Uruguay as Saudi Arabia controlled the ball for much of the match and were more accurate in their shots, but in the end, it's not always the better team that wins. Saudi Arabia frustrated and in the end eliminated along with Egypt with the result. For Uruguay they advance to the next round with the match for the group with Russia next; Uruguay improves to 4-0-0 vs Asian teams at the World Cup. For Saudi Arabia they remain winless at the World Cup 0-2-12, they will play Egypt in their final match on Monday.
Last edited by Eatersto1 on June 21st, 2018, 10:42 am, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 10:08 pm #6

Group B

In Group B, we have one of the world's best players (Cristiano Ronaldo) and one of the world's best teams (Spain) as they try to get the world's greatest title in the sport for the heights of a group of players who made the sport how it is in the 21st Century. And how fittingly it is that this group opens up with the Iberian clash between Portugal and Spain. Ronaldo's career with Spanish side Real Madrid is uncertain after their 3rd consecutive UEFA Champions League victory as the Portuguese aims to get his country the Cup in what could be his last chance. He'll face a number of his club teammates and also adversaries in this first match, where victory could set the stage for the knockout round. The Spanish are in new form the last few years, recovering from their early crash out in Brazil 2014 after winning South Africa 2010. They will have a core group of hardy vets that won 2010 along with some younger talent and will be quote formidable. Portugal had lackluster warmups 2-2 with Tunisia 0-0 to Belgium and 3-0 over Algeria the only bright spot. Spain After Spain drilled Argentina 6-1 back in March, this month managed just 1-1 to Switzerland and 1-0 to Tunisia and leaves the competition open for one to think about.

Morocco, the country who got snubbed today for their 2026 bid could come out angry. They are not a bad side, but they may be overlooked because they're not a major footballing nation. But the North African teams are always tough and they may have morale to push through some surprises in this group. The Atlas Lions have been unbeaten in their last 18 matches coming in (dating from last August) although against much weaker competition, but nonetheless quite a feat. They've managed a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, 2-1 over Slovakia and 3-1 over Estonia the past 3 weeks in warmups.

Iran was the first Asian team and first team other than hosts Russia to qualify rolling over much of their competition in the 3rd round of AFC qualifications. Iran crashed out of Brazil 2014 early in drawn into a tough group and they will be in this tough group again. They have since then solidified themselves as the top Asian side moving into the upper 40s and into the 30s in the rankings and some will be hoping for better results this time. The Asians in particular are in need of results facing some lackluster lately all around and being left behind in the global stage. Iran didn't get too much practice with a couple of warmup cancellations against Greece and Kosovo. They beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in mid-May was defeated by Turkey 1-2 in a heated match at the end of May and defeated Lithuania just 1-0 last Friday coming into the competition. They'll have a long ways ahead now Group B.
POS.           TEAM    MP   W     D      L    GF   GA    GD      P
1 Spain 2 1 1 0 4 3 +1 4 Advances with a draw vs Morocco
2 Portugal 2 1 1 0 4 3 +1 4 Advances with a draw vs Iran
3 Iran 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 3 Advances with a win over Portugal
4 Morocco 2 0 0 2 0 2 -2 0 Eliminated
Spain holds the current tiebreaker vs Portugal via "fair play points" (card accumulation)
Spain -1, Portugal -2. In the event that Iran draws with Portugal and Spain loses to Morocco, Iran must hope Spain accumulate a lot of bookings. Iran is currently -5.

Wowers and stunners #1
Matchday 1 saw the 2 powerhouse matchup in Group B along with the smaller teams vying for position to survive.
Morocco 0 Iran 1
IRN Aziz Bouhaddouz (OG) 90+5
Morocco were the favorites over this one. Everyone had written Iran off the books way before the tournament started. The Asian's #1 team's level was expected to be similar to their much lower counterparts the Saudis. Morocco, who has a team where over half are Dutch born and play in Europe, a possible blowout was expected. But Iran sat back and defended well, and when possible went on attack. The quality of both sides was rather low, due to the physicality of the game. Both sides had multiple players knocked up. I remember seeing an Iranian player who took a boot to the back, and as soon as the magic spray was applied, he lifted his shirt and a bruise line appeared. Ouch. It was the type of slug it out match that would end up as a scoreless draw, but there was 5-6 minutes added due to the high rate of injury and stoppages, and disaster struck for the Atlas Lions on an Iranian corner in the 5th minute of injury time. Aziz Bougaddouz was about 6 yards on the far post trying to stave off the corner and he got it all wrong, heading the ball into his own net. Elation for the super underdogs Iran and a nightmare for Bougaddouz and the Moroccans who may have seen their hopes dashed.
Portugal 3 Spain 3
POR Cristiano Ronaldo 3' (P), 44', 88'
ESP Diego Costa 24', 55'; Nacho 58'
It was the match of the ages that everyone was anticipating, the Iberian derby and possibly the battle for dominance and it was everything a fan would want from. Who else, but Cristiano Ronaldo doing what Ronaldo does. Both sides played a 4-2-3-1 with the Portuguese sitting back defensively and Spain being the aggressor. But early on, Portugal found themselves on attack with some quick attacks. Less than 2 minutes in, Ronaldo on the left was making a move into the box, his Real Madrid teammate stuck a knee out and tripped him up, the referee immediately pointed to the spot for the tournament's first PK. There was protest as it looked like a 50-50 call, but the first action for VAR was brief confirming the PK. Ronaldo, who created the chance decisively put the ball away to take a 1-0 lead for the Portuguese. Spain went on attack creating many golden chances but were not able to convert, and Portugal had several great counterattacks that nearly broke the Spanish defense who had been pulled up for offense. David Silva had several chances parried away in that stretch. The Spanish finally found the breakthrough in the 24th as Diego Costa caught a long lobbed ball got away with a pushoff against Pepe (a push in the face) broke the ankles of several defenders who had came back to defend and slotted the ball into the goal for a beautifully done equalizer. The match would continue as the same with the Spanish on the offensive and the Portuguese sitting back and waiting for giveaways to release furious counterattacks. Isco thought he had given Spain the lead as a rebounding ball was rocketed under the crossbar and bounced on the line, VAR showing clearly the ball did not cross. the rebound was save and collected by Portugal keeper Rui Patricio. Iniesta nearly had the go ahead in the 35th on a chance that went just wide. A minute before half, the Portuguese launched a ball from inside midfield on the far side that was cleverly left for Ronaldo at the top of the box who seeing an immediate couple yards worth of space, sent a rolling shot off the hands of Spanish keeper David de Gea, a bad goalkeeping mistake and the Portuguese taking a 2-1 lead into half. Spain wasted no time to continue their offensive out of the half after going down again. In the 55th, David Silva launched a beautiful free kick from about 28 yards to the right side redirected in front of goal where Diego Costa gobbled it up for his own brace. 3 minutes later the Portuguese defense melted down and a deflected pass from inside the box rolled out to the top right of the area where Nacho launched a powerful volley that pinned in from the nearside post to the far side of the net, redeeming himself for his PK challenge at the start of the match. It would seem the Spanish would carry the day as the Portuguese looked gassed for the rest of the half, frustrated by misreads and Spanish defendings. The Spanish themselves frustrated their attacks were again broken down. Portuguese desperation late was rewarded as their got a foul about 25-26 yards out. Just as the clock hit 87 minutes, Ronaldo lofted a wonderball around the Spanish wall and into the nearside net (bend it like Beckham style), de Gea unable the read the ball and get to it. There were a couple chances late, but ultimately the match ended 3-3, Ronaldo's hat trick saving the Portuguese from defeat and earning him likely a lot of talk for a long time (until next matchday at least). Spanish fans however, drew their ire on their star keeper, demanding him be axed for 1 getting fooled badly by a PK, letting a ball slip out of his hands and a poorly designed wall that allowed Ronaldo to get his hat trick.
At the end of the day, Iran finds themselves surprised and everyone too to be on top of the group while the superpowers are right in the middle.

Matchday 2
Portugal 1 Morocco 0
POR Cristiano Ronaldo

Morocco desperate for points to stay alive came to battle the Portuguese, but Cristiano Ronaldo found space on a 4th minute corner and punched a power header into the goal and that would be all. Again, the underdogs had the better play over the favorites in a physical battle. Both teams created a lot of good chances and had shots go either just wide/over or forced the opposing keeper to make sprawling saves. But Morocco who needed a goal could not find the net and in the end are eliminated. Portugal isn't through yet and will still have work to do. There were calls that US referee Mark Geiger could of made that could have changed the game, but Geiger is one tough cookie and a veteran MLS ref that is hard to crack on PK calls, even with VAR. And at times, especially the Moroccans were angry and screaming at him. Ronaldo is still the top scorer so far with 4 goals in 2 matches.

Iran 0 Spain 1
ESP Diego Costa 54'
Iran was riding high after getting the gift victory over Morocco on their first day and looked to do damage against group favorites Spain. Iran certainly looked the part of a challenger. Spain, for the 2nd straight game copied the same exact formation of its opponent. It was a back and forth affair, both teams created but could not convert its chances in the first half. In the 2nd half, Spain put pressure minutes in with a few shots that the Iranian keeper had to do well to make some fantastic saves. Iran had a good shot of their own moments later that bounced just wide. Just a couple minutes later, a slow rolling ball found Diego Costa who spun and slipped a slow rolling shot off 1 of 2 defenders and right past the keeper into the net. 8 minutes later, Iran was celebrating an equalizer from a brilliant set piece that found 3 open players on the left that was slotted home. However, upon review the player who shot it was just a bit offside as the ball deflected off of him and he took the shot. (I think after the deflection if another player had shot it, it would have counted). But easy to say that the refs ruled in favor of Spain for those who think the game is corrupt. It's easily to believe that with so many underdogs succeeding but then lose these games. Spain almost doubled up minutes later as the keeper committed on a well designed corner set off the goal line but 3 or 4 shot attempts were denied by the defense sprawling on the ground and eventually covered by the keeper (like a hockey play). Iran missed some other good chances by inches late to equalize and would be frustrated they could not at least take a point from Spain. Spain vault to the top of group while Iran falls to 3rd.
Last edited by Eatersto1 on June 21st, 2018, 6:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 13th, 2018, 10:28 pm #7

Group C

This will be an exciting group, because it has a good mix of strong and mid level opponents.

France is one of the favorites to win this Cup and boy did they look good early in their warmups. Against Rep of Ireland in Paris in a rain flooding match, the French prevailed 2-0, dominant despite the low score due to the rain. Their passing was pinpoint, chemistry was fantastic, and that led to a followup win over observer Italy 3-1. However, a 1-1 draw against a young United States side Saturday in their farewell match will be troublesome. As France will have to worry about their first opponent, Australia who are expected to play a similar tight defensive formation and have good speed and skill on the counter. France struggled to break down the young US squad (who had lost to Ireland a week before; the irony). France will need to click fast, because they don't want to be bogged down in their first matchday.

Denmark is back to the World Cup after missing out on Brazil 2014. They will be poised to make a better result this time and they have some confidence coming in. Watch out for MF Christen Eriksen, their top player and a young striker in Yussuf Poulsen. The duo are dangerous and can cause havoc on their opponents.The Danish Dynamite are looking for blow their way into the knockout stage and have had fair results in their warmups.
A 0-0 draw with neighbor Sweden and a dominant victory over Mexico 2-0.

Australia are back in the World Cup again. The Socceroos have been a fixture since moving up from Oceania to Asia and it has helped them somewhat in their 12 years now in Asia. However, some will be questioning how strong they will be with a lot of veteran players such as Tim Cahill playing likely their last World Cup if not last international tournament. While they are the reigning Asian Cup champs, they have not played a lot of top quality competition, and after all they had to play Honduras in the play in to take one of the last World Cup berths. they'll have some confidence coming in though, they've had some good results with a 4-0 blasting of the Czech Republic and a 2-1 victory over Hungary.

Peru, one of the biggest surprises in qualification ran over South America qualifiers with authority and are making their first appearance since Spain 1982. Peru, one of the countries from the very first tournament has a proud history and for sure Los Incas are feeling confident with their side in this competition. It is a tough group, but they're not ready to play without a fight. They've beaten Scotland 2-0, Saudia Arabia 3-0 and 0-0 with Sweden. If one considers them a Cinderella, that's fine; but they're probably a lot better than a Cinderella.
1 France 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
2 Denmark 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
3 Australia 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
4 Peru 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
It's a challenging group C and every team was up to the challenge.
France 2 Australia 1
FRA Antoine Griezmann 58' (P), Aziz Behich (OG) 80' AUS Mile Jedinak 62' (P)
France and Australia has the earliest match in the tournament (3 am PDT) and in this early afternoon bout, France had been prepping for this match with the US match exactly 1 week before. And with Steven Giroud on the bench (and coming on late) after busting his head against the Americans, Les Bleus needed to find offense elsewhere in the early going. As advertised, the Socceroos sat back in defense and for the 2nd straight match, the French were stifled by the defense. The Australians were even more disciplined and skilled (mostly vets) than the Americans and the French just could not find a way. It was a physical match too, a lot of body contact and fouls, intentionally by the Australians and through frustration by the French. Australia created much better chances then the favored team. But things changed slightly in the 58th as Antoine Griezmann broke the Australian defense and was brought down with a late tackle. The referee initially said clean tackle before the VAR crew had him go check which showed the tackle just missing the ball and the follow through leg catching Griezmann at the end. The call reversed and the PK awarded to which Griezmann caught the keeper flinching and France finally broke through. But their celebrations were premature as just 3 minutes later, Australia fought to get a free kick on the right side just about 30 yards out. Aaron Mooy's free kick was defended away, but it was Umititi's arm that made contact. The Australians all calling for handball and the appeal given. Mile Jedinak the captain stepped up fooled Lloris to his right and he slotted the ball home to his right leveling the match at 1-1. The match continued the same as before, not very pretty like it was in the 1st half but as the matched reached 80 minutes, Paul Pogba broke free at a ball into the box, he sent a strike at the same time Australian defender Aziz Behich tried to kick it away, the result the ball lobbed over the keeper ricocheted under the bar and across the line before popping out, Pogba claimed the goal, but ultimately ruled an own goal that helped France stave off an early upset.
Peru 0 Denmark 1
DEN Yussuf Poulsen 59'
It was #11 Peru vs #8 Denmark, another top tier battle but in Group C. Peru who are in their first tournament in decades took no time wasting to go on the offensive, forcing the Danish who had all the confidence after defeating Mexico coming in to defend. But none shall pass as the Danish defense and keeper made numerous saves and defensive actions to prevent The Incas from scoring. But just before half as Peru's Cuevas tripped on the ball inside the box with Yussuf Poulsen defending. The referee said no foul (as it should have been) but the VAR crew coerced the referee who awarded the penalty after a lengthy review, if Poulsen had caught Cuevas, then it was marginally to none at all. In the ensuing free kick, Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel was completely fooled committing early to his left and Cueva promptly punted the ball out of the stadium. 59th minute, Denmark on the counter Yussuf Poulsen found the ball on the left, made a speedy run and as Peru's keeper committed, he bent the ball around the keeper's right and into the corner of the net giving the Danish the lead. The Peruvians continued an unrelentless attack at the Danish and at times, they were close to breaking, but nothing would break that Viking shield wall. The Peruvians stunned at the result that even the Danish manager said in the postgame press conference that Peru deserved more than a 1-0 defeat as they made all the winning moves, but the ball just stayed out.
Despite 2 teams winning, the single goal victories leaves the group wide open. Of course if team can get to 6 on match 2, they may secure their spot in the R16.
Last edited by Eatersto1 on June 18th, 2018, 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: December 24th, 2011, 4:57 pm

June 13th, 2018, 10:45 pm #8

I am going to have to come back here and read your previews before I go to the watch party tomorrow. I need an education on these teams. 

Joined: December 24th, 2011, 4:57 pm

June 14th, 2018, 6:09 am #9

It looks to me like Groups E and F are the toughest. 

Group E:
Costa Rica

Group F:
South Korea

The CONCACAF teams could both be eliminated. Switzerland is good. They are my dark horse team. 

Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 9:01 pm

June 14th, 2018, 10:43 am #10

I won't put the match results until tonight since I don't want to have spoilers for those who haven't watched and will watch it in primetime, but what an opener it was.

Btw, turmoil in Group B as Spain sacked their manager yesterday for taking the job at Real Madrid. Said it was because of "propriety" and priority problems. Mind you, this coach lead Spain to a 6-1 blowout of Argentina back in March and has developed a system that makes them title contenders. Sacking him 2 days before their match with Portugal is a head scratcher.