Ranking every World Cup Team Performance after the First Round of Group Games
A breathtaking start to the World Cup in Russia! VAR, penalties, free kicks and wonder strikes have already assured this World Cup a place in the football history books. This was the first time that there was no goalless draw in the opening round of games since the 2002 WC.
The traditional favourites have struggled to impress in their first showing. The defending champions Germany were outrun and outwitted by the energetic Mexicans. Spain and Portugal promised to be a football spectacle and it delivered. Brazil and Argentina were denied victory by tactically compact and experienced European sides. France were unspectacular in their late victory against the brave Australians.
Let's see how the favourites and the other teams have fared in their first chance to make an impression in Russia.
#32 Saudi Arabia
The Middle East giants competed in their first match in the World cup since 2006 and were extremely disappointing. The players looked out of place and were no match for the hosts Russia. The Saudi players will reportedly be fined for their disastrous performance.
Saudi Arabia suffered the ignominy of an 8-0 thrashing by Germany in the '02 WC and there were no expectations that the Saudis would put in a worse performance. While the 5-0 loss could not numerically match that '02 performance, the Saudis will be bitterly disappointed in the manner of the loss to Russia. While the host nation were favourites for the match, this Russian team is considered to be one of the least exciting teams in the Sbornaya's history.
To improve their performance, the Saudis would need to stop playing from the back. The central defenders were in no way comfortable on the ball and played some hapless passes which were easily intercepted by the Russian midfield.
The Super Eagles boasted the youngest squad in this World Cup but their performance was anything but vibrant, energetic and youthful. Nigeria were one of the best-attacking units in the African qualifiers but their attack was hardly synergic and largely unexciting. The typical African fearlessness was absent in a rather dim affair vs the Croats.
The midfielders were unable to control the game against an experienced and composed Croatian midfield. While the midfielders were overshadowed, a lot was expected of the Nigerian wide players featuring the likes of Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi. While Iwobi struggled to portray his usual flair, Moses and his crosses were disappointing. John Obi Mikel was unable to find spaces with his passes behind the Croatian fullbacks and was largely a spectator. Oghenakaro Etebo might have scored an own goal but he was by far the best Nigerian player.
However, the Nigerians have some hope as Ahmed Musa, who was phenomenal in the 2014 World Cup, will be fit in the next group game.