World Cup 2018: 5 things we learned from the first round of matches
It has been an amazing World Cup so far and promises to get even better as the pressure increases.
While there were a lot of doubts about Russia's capacity to host the World Cup successfully and other envisaged off-field issues, it has been one that has gone superbly with little in the way of unpleasant off-field incidents.
The football on show has been pleasantly good with the so-called smaller teams refusing to roll over and die. The favoured nations: Brazil, Argentina, defending champions Germany France, among others, now know that they are not going to have it all their way.
There have been some very interesting tactical variations, formations, and displays as well with coaches being bold enough to try different things.
Here are 5 things that have been learned about the World Cup so far:
#5 The smaller teams are showing zero fear
It has been a fantastic tournament so far and a lot of this has been down to the so-called smaller teams showing no fear.
Mexico's win over Germany highlighted this most effectively as Carlos Osorio's all-out, gegenpressing style suffocated a lethargic DieMannschaft and made the defending champions look very ordinary. Switzerland produced a very disciplined display against the Canarinho of Brazil with Valon Behrami doing a majestic job of man-marking Neymar.
One of the most interesting features of these so-called "smaller teams" performances has been the tactical discipline in defending and not allowing the big name teams/stars to get opportunities.
Against Argentina, Iceland had a "box-defence" system that saw at least two players shadowing every move made by Lionel Messi forcing the G.O.A.T to drop deep into midfield where he became less effective. Australia's zonal defensive formation frustrated a very poor Les Bleus side ( it took an own-goal for the French to triumph).
The second round of games promises to follow the same pattern as the bravery and savvy exploits of the Mundial's lesser-lights are expected to continue