The World Cup 2018 has kicked-off and it has already taken an unprecedented turn. Shocking wins and heart clenching draws have eclipsed the opening phase of the world sporting event. Whether you are dancing for Brazil, flowing with Argentina or roaring for Germany, this World Cup is proving to be a surprising wild card when it comes to picking a favorite.
Football favorites are being held and anchored at bay while the underdogs and World Cup veterans are putting up a fight not many has come to expect. A sport played by 22 men on a field of grass is more than just a game. It is a gathering, not just of players but of people. And as people gather, they pin their expectations on the teams to take them to the pinnacle of liveliness a victory brings.
Hosts Russia started off the football festival with a thumping win against Saudi Arabia, while other qualified teams such as Denmark, Croatia, Colombia and Japan, who were pitted against one another put on exceptional shows. However, it has been the games of the fan favorites and their opponents which have been turning heads. Typically coming off strong, football powerhouses like Germany, Brazil and Argentina have been struggling to intimidate their opponents in the usual manner this World Cup.
Argentina was rooted down by first time qualifier Iceland for a tie, with their star player Lionel Messi not being able to bully the Nordic newbies. Following the draw, Argentina suffered a crushing 0-3 defeat at the feet of the Croatians, with their World Cup dreams hanging by a thread at the mercy of the final group game with a determined Nigeria and the result of Iceland’s next match.
Brazil started well during the first phase of the game but could not outplay the Swiss army and ended up drawing. In their later match against Costa Rica, Brazil seemed to have been blessed with two extra time goals, after 90 minutes of struggle against the strong, defensive wall of their opponents, led by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Former cup holders Spain and a strong balanced team of Portugal, driven by Cristiano Ronaldo, produced one of the best matches of the World Cup till date, despite it ending with a tie. In their second match with Iran, Spain managed to secure a struggling 1-0 win, while Portugal also scraped by with a goal over Morocco.
Germany, the ever strong powerhouse of a football team and winners of the previous event, was stretched thin with a loss handed to them by the enigmatic Mexican team who danced around the Germans. Following the draw, Germany was pitted against the well-balanced World Cup veteran Sweden and despite the struggle in the first half, managed to secure a 2-0 win, barely saving them from elimination.
As the group games progress, it is slowly becoming evident that this time it would be wrong to put money on the big names. World Cup veterans like France struggled to win against underdogs Australia while former holders like Italy failed to even qualify. Teams like Russia, Switzerland, Mexico and Costa Rica are pouring their sweat in to ensure everyone goes in, or out with the hardest fight of their international career.