SANTA MONICA — With the first round of the World Cup complete, each team showed a little of what they have to offer in the group stages, and some really showed up over the last week. In a stunning defeat, Mexico beat Germany 0-1. Iceland proved they shouldn’t be judged despite their youth and obvious inexperience as the drew 1-1 with Messi and his boys from Argentina. And of course, Russia clobbered Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of The World Cup.
RUSSIA THRASHES SAUDI ARABIA
No one expected the worst-ranked team in the World Cup to do much, let alone come out and destroy its very first opponent 5-0. That’s exactly what they did though.
The play by the host country in the opening match wasn’t phenomenal or even amazing. However, they did find the back of the net three times during regulation play and scored twice during stoppage time. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia appeared sluggish and disorganized throughout the match. Russia pounded the slacking defense with 14 shots on the night with half of them on goal while Saudi Arabia went 0 for 6 shots on goal. While Russia didn’t offer any fancy foot work or impressive style of play, its aggressive demeanor kept Saudi Arabia on their toes throughout the game. Russia tallied 22 fouls, one yellow and three offside calls.
The 5-0 win puts Russia into first place in Group A with three points and a five goal lead, giving the Russians their best chance of leaving the group round. Uruguay trails in second with three points and only one goal. Egypt sits in third with a goal deficit of one while Saudi Arabia will have a hard time climbing out of the Group Round with a five goal deficit to overcome.
ICELAND DRAWS AGAINST ARGENTINA
It’s no doubt Iceland has been the team to watch since before the World Cup started. With a population hovering around 300,000, Iceland is the smallest country to ever compete in the World Cup. But rather than be intimidated by the odds and international superstars, the Icelanders are playing as if they have been in the World Cup before. They are playing with poise and power.
Argentina controlled most of the game, however, and kept possession 78 percent of the time. But the Icelandic defense forced Argentina’s shots to go awry nearly every time. The Viking defense did such a great job that Argentina went 7 for 27 in shots on goal and only had one goal the entire game.
Even more shocking than Iceland’s defense, veteran forward Lionel Messi watched his penalty kick be denied by the Iceland keeper in the 64th minute. Messi booted the ball to the right of the net but didn’t get the ball high or low enough to force the keeper out of his way. Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson dove right to stop the shot at waist level.
Iceland and Argentina split the points for one each for second and third respectively in group D. Croatia leads with three points and a two goal lead while Nigeria sits in last place with zero points and a two goal deficit.
MEXICO UPSETS GERMANY
In the biggest upset thus far of the World Cup, Mexico left the 2014 World Cup champions wondering what happened. And that’s exactly what everyone wants to know.
Germany dominate every aspect of the game — scoring aside. The Germans put up 26 shots with nine being on goal and recording eight corner kicks. They controlled the ball the majority of the time with 67 percent and only gave up 10 fouls. Yet it does no good to win the stats column without a goal which is all that mattered to Mexico. In the 35th minute, Mexico’s Hirving Lozano cut back the pass back around a German defender, putting the ball in space. Lozano quickly turned and shot, sliding the ball under Germany’s goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead.
It was the only shot of the game that mattered however as German never found an opening for the equalizer. Mexico sits in second under Sweden with three points while Sweden holds first with three points as well. South Korea and Germany fall to the bottom of Group F with zero points and a one goal deficit each.
Senegal and Poland wrapped up the round one of groups Tuesday morning with Senegal winning 2-1. Group B finished with Iran leading with three points while France and Denmark sit in Group C with three points each. Serbia leads Group E with three points as Belgium and England control Group G with three points each as well.
Group stage continued Tuesday at 11 a.m. with Russia and Egypt kicking things off.