World Cup 2018: 4 major shocks we could witness in Russia
The FIFA World Cup in Russia has begun in sensational fashion. At the end of the first round of group stage fixtures, we've already seen it all. We've seen a sensational hattrick scored by Cristiano Ronaldo, late winners, own goals, cracking free-kicks and penalty misses.
But the most eye-catching part of this tournament so far has been the number of upsets we have witnessed. Tournament favourites have been found out by resolute and well organized teams and these shock results have only made the tournament even more thrilling.
Experts and fans believed before the tournament began that this would bring out the gulf in class between the established footballing superpowers and the so-called minnows. We were told to expect a tournament in which the giants would all ease their way into the knockout stages and that the actual games would only begin then.
However, the beauty of this format is that it is absolutely unforgiving. If the team is caught napping, there might be no coming back. One bad night could see a four-year dream go up in flames.
This could very well be the case with most of the favorites failing to come up with the performances expected of them. Top players have flattered to deceive and this has meant that their countries have struggled to get past opposition they would have fancied beating.
This has put these giants facing must win ties in the coming matches if they are to have hopes of progressing into the knockout stages of the competition.
In this article,we take a look at the major shocks of the tournament we could witness due to the upsets we have already witnessed in the competition.
#1 Lionel Messi's World Cup dream could end early
Argentina just about scraped into the World Cup finals in Russia and they had their inspirational skipper Lionel Messi to thank for it. However, it was the great man who let his nation down in the opening match of their World Cup campaign.
Argentina heading into the tournament knew that they would have a difficult task to even make it out of the group stages. They have been paired in the group of death with traditional dark horses Croatia, a high-flying Iceland and African giants Nigeria.
La Albiceleste got a first taste of the medicine against debutants Iceland. Despite taking the lead through Sergio Aguero, the South American side struggled to impose themselves on a gritty and well-organized Icelandic side who even managed to get back level.
Argentina retained the ball for large periods of the game but failed to find a way past the solid defense.
Argentina managed to win a penalty through Meza and their captain stepped up to take it. However, Iceland goalkeeper Halldorsson had other ideas as he managed to save a poorly placed penalty.
The keeper had a night that he'll remember for the rest of his life as he managed to keep Messi at bay, despite the latter taking 10 shots at his goal. Messi cut a sorry figure at the end of the match as his penalty miss meant that Argentina missed out on two vital points.
The talismanic skipper will have to step up in the coming matches if Argentina are to have any chance of realizing their dream of lifting the World Cup which has evaded them for over three decades now.
Argentina now find themselves in a precarious position in a difficult group and they'll face a tactically strong Croatian side next before they head over to face the Nigerians in what could end up being a must-win tie.
The road to World Cup glory will seem extremely long for Argentina this time and they will face huge obstacles to even get to the second round.
If Argentina fail to win their group, they could face France in just the second round of the competition.
Though football fans would love to see the two exciting attacking units come head to head in the tournament, it's a match that a stuttering Argentina would dread to even think about so early in the tournament.