Wednesday, June 20, 2018

End of Matchday One: Rise of the Underdogs

So all 32 teams had played.

So far quiet entertaining, as some of the big teams struggled to prove that they really ARE the big teams -some struggled because they didn't want to lose face, and some smaller ones start to show that they worth the spot in the tournament.

Some smaller ones.

These are what I've been waiting for.
And reaching the end of matchday one,
They appeared in three, consecutive matches.

Colombia vs Japan
Group H

Pic's from here.

Everybody remembers how Colombia blasted to be one of the sweet surprises in Brazil, and James Rodriguez earned the spotlight that earned him the fame he has now. The only one that stopped their moves were the host, which defeated them at Quarter Final round. It's only nature to predict them winning this game against Japan, a World Cup regulars, actually, but somewhat taken for granted.

Apparently, the strategy to start the opening game by keeping Rodriguez benched instead of including him on the starting IX brought karma to Colombia. Only 3 minutes after the kick-off, defender Carlos Sanchez was red-carded for touching the ball, and Japan was rewarded a successful penalty. Colombia could score one before half time, but Japan showed their real self by dominating the second half, kept pushing Arsenal's David Ospina until he gave in to Yuya Osako's header that led to Japan's winning goal. The offensive approach then suddenly switched to fabulous defensive mechanism, where Japan several times successfully blocked Colombia's attack frenzy -one of the remarkable saves was surprisingly committed by Osako!

This quickly became one big, important victory not only for Japan, but for us Asians, because it was the very first Asian victory over a South American team, that happened in 70 years!

Poland vs Senegal
Group H 

Pic's from here.

Yep, who would've thought that this group is apparently a death one too?

Now. Poland may not be the biggest team. But they had Lewandoski, and Pizczek, and many other quiet notable players while Senegal, aside of Mane, I don't think many know much of them. HOWEVER, one shouldn't underestimate the energy of Senegal. They depicted warriors from epic movies. Physically amazing, and their speed... I'm not sure which word to use here. Their goals weren't the best though, one was an OG from Thiago Cionek, and their second goal by Mbaye Niang was of Polish defenders' errors -moreover, Poland's counter header-goal by Grzegorz Krichowiak showed more quality to me than all Senegale's goals- but all and all, those are the rewards for Senegal from being such strong and effective team.

While their fellow continental nations struggled really hard in Russia, they won over Poland, recording the first African win at 2018 World Cup. I can't tell how happy I am for Mane. Yet on the same time I had to feel broken too, because the same joyous moment didn't come to his Liverpool teammate.

Russia vs Egypt
Group A

Pic's from here.

I marked this as the worst of World Cup Russia 2018 so far. For Egyptians, for Liverpudlians, for Mohamed Salah. I'm planning to talk about him on a separate post, because he deserves it, so let's just go with the outer layer and how the host broke free to be one of this World Cup's rising stars.

It's been a smooth journey for them so far. They took benefit of their home supports really well, that they converted it to such incredible power. A 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia clearly proved it all. Then they won 3-1 against Egypt. It wasn't all their power though -since their first goal was of Egypt's own mistake, that eventually ruined their pace and led them to defeat, and both of their opponents were actually not ones considered big teams but, it was enough for them to lift their own confidence in facing Uruguay on Group A's Matchday Three.

The game between Russia and Egypt marked the start of Matchday Two. Lots of other big matches are waiting to be played, and I'm so eager to see each one of them!

And by "them", of course,
I meant the underdogs

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