Even if perhaps it hasn’t quite been the start you were expecting, it certainly has been a captivating first week to this year’s World Cup, with underdogs like Mexico and the US advancing to the second round and Uruguay, Portugal, defending champions Spain and, of course, my beloved England (hands up those who weren’t expecting this one though?), crashing out in the group stage. Many will perhaps be wondering what lies ahead in this tournament, but what fresh surprises did the weekend’s football hold?
If this is to be a World Cup full of surprises yesterday was a comparatively ordinary day which saw Argentina beat Iran 1 – 0 and, again unsurprisingly, top their group. But what was surprising was Iran’s performance. For 90 minutes they prevented Argentina, one of the finest attacking teams inthe tournament, from scoring, and it was Lionel Messi who finally stepped up to save Argentina from drawing with Iran, a team that hardly has a glittering history in the cup, and gave them the points.
In Group F Nigeria took on Bosnia, again beating them by just one goal and giving Nigeria their first win of the cup. This game, many said, was the battle for second place and it disappointed only in terms of the number of goals scored, with both teams attacking furiously.
Many readers may be unhappy to hear me say that Ghana had been disappointing in their first game against the USA and the pressure was on them to turn their fortunes around. Meanwhile, Germany historically haven’t always performed well in their second game in previous World Cups. It was the Germans whom fortune favoured as they scored first from Mario Götze’s knee. But, not to be outdone, Ghana came straight back as Andre Ayew headed home a cross. It perhaps wasn’t what Germany had been expecting, they were unsettled. Ghana are a big strong side, they began to physically dominate which gave them space and allowed Gyan to score Ghana’s second and almost gave Jordan Ayew a chance at a third. The German coach was forced to play his veteran striker Miroslav Klose to save the game, which he did, in the 71st
On Sunday Belgium secured their place in the second round of the World Cup against a Russian side which may be headed home early, with another late goal from a substitute, this time Divock Origi. Origi is now the youngest Belgiun to score in this tournament.
With an estimated population of over three hundred million, it is hardly surprising you are going to find some people who are interested in, and good at, almost any sport: in America. One sport which perhaps not as many were interested in was football, and so the rest of the world could finally enjoy a sport that some American hadn’t bested them at. That, it seems, is beginning to change; the US has already enjoyed a promising start to this year’s World cup in their first match with Ghana and now they’ve earned another point against Portugal (some of the world’s best), all but sending them through to the second round. Indeed, while Portugal did score first, it was the US who scored the next two, leaving it up to substitute Silvestre Varela to save Portugal from certain elimination.
Finally, for this report at least, Algeria played South Korea and showed them they are not the soft option of the tournament, scoring three goals in the first half and finally winning 4 – 2. As group H head into their final game of the first round, second place is still all to play for.
*Monday’s games are Australia V Spain (Group B) and Netherlands V Chile (Group B) at 11 a.m., Cameroon V Brazil (Group A) and Croatia V Mexico at 3 p.m. (All times in Peruvian standard time). Visit Peru this Week’s Sports blog each day at 8 p.m. for the day’s updates.*Keep up to date with the World Cup on Peru this Week’s Sports blog Daily updates at 8 p.m.