Brazil soccer star Neymar

World-class soccer player Neymar leads the Brazil team at the Olympics.

Brazil's Neymar, right, leaves a training session because of pain in his right ankle, in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
The Latest: Messi gets a chance to save face against Croatia
Brazil's Neymar, right, leaves a training session because of pain in his right ankle, in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil's Neymar attends a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Neymar returns to training, Brazil guarantees he's ready
Brazil's Neymar attends a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Neymar returns to training, Brazil guarantees he's ready
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
World Cup - Brazil Training
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
World Cup - Brazil Training
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Coutinho with Willian (L) and Neymar at Brazil training on Tuesday (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
Coutinho with Willian (L) and Neymar at Brazil training on Tuesday
Coutinho with Willian (L) and Neymar at Brazil training on Tuesday (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
World Cup - Brazil Training
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
World Cup - Brazil Training
Soccer Football - World Cup - Brazil Training - Brazil Training Camp, Sochi, Russia - June 19, 2018 Brazil's Neymar during training REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
The Latest: Rakitic casts vote for Messi in GOAT debate
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
World Cup: How Much Will Neymar's Injury Affect Brazil?
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
World Cup: How Much Will Neymar's Injury Affect Brazil?
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
World Cup: How Much Will Neymar's Injury Affect Brazil?
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
World Cup: How Much Will Neymar's Injury Affect Brazil?
Neymar has been hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained during Brazil's 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Will this impact Brazil's chances of advancing past the group stage.
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, the Selecao star man was back in training on Wednesday
Neymar returns to Brazil training ahead of World Cup clash with Costa Rica
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, the Selecao star man was back in training on Wednesday
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, the Selecao star man was back in training on Wednesday
Neymar returns to Brazil training ahead of World Cup clash with Costa Rica
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, the Selecao star man was back in training on Wednesday
Neymar had hobbled out of Brazil training on Tuesday (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
Neymar had hobbled out of Brazil training on Tuesday
Neymar had hobbled out of Brazil training on Tuesday (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, star man Neymar was back in training with Brazil on Wednesday.
Neymar returns to Brazil training after injury scare
With Friday's meeting against Costa Rica approaching, star man Neymar was back in training with Brazil on Wednesday.
Brazil's Neymar, left, and Switzerland's Valon Behrami challenge for the ball during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Switzerland-Serbia Preview
Brazil's Neymar, left, and Switzerland's Valon Behrami challenge for the ball during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Switzerland's Valon Behrami reacts as Brazil's Neymar lies on the ground during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Switzerland-Serbia Preview
Switzerland's Valon Behrami reacts as Brazil's Neymar lies on the ground during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Switzerland's Valon Behrami, left, and Brazil's Neymar challenge for the ball during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Switzerland-Serbia Preview
Switzerland's Valon Behrami, left, and Brazil's Neymar challenge for the ball during the group E match between Brazil and Switzerland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Brazil will hope to have Neymar at full capacity when they aim for a first win at the 2018 World Cup against a dogged Costa Rica.
Brazil v Costa Rica: Coutinho ready for more Selecao toil
Brazil will hope to have Neymar at full capacity when they aim for a first win at the 2018 World Cup against a dogged Costa Rica.
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
Ranking every World Cup 2018 team, after one game each
What a World Cup it's been! Penalties, VAR, own goals, counter-attacks and just lots of lovely goals all over the place - it's been great fun. But who has impressed so far? Who looks good to make it all the way to the final? Are there any surprises? Having watched every single game so far, here's a run-down of all 32 teams. 32. Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabia team full of hope before their hapless 5-0 thrashing against the hosts Credit: Getty Images After a promising opening five minutes full of Barcelona-esque tip-tap football and fluid movement, Saudi Arabia put in one of the worst international performances I've ever seen. The centre-backs couldn't string a pass together, the wide players showed some fantastic first-touches and then gave the ball away immediately, offered no threat going forward and let an extremely ordinary Russia score five past them. If they'd been playing Mexico the referee would probably have stopped the game 60 minutes in to prevent it becoming a humanitarian crisis. 31. Panama Roman Torres turns away from Belgium's goal celebrations Credit: AFP Tried really hard, were fortunate with some refereeing decisions but ultimately offered little resistance to Belgium, who made Panama look better than they are by hitting aimless long balls and being sloppy in midfield. Had a few promising moments but won't get out of the group. 30. South Korea Son Heung-min (right) after South Korea's defeat to Sweden Credit: AP Undone by a (correct) VAR decision, South Korea can't really complain about their opening game defeat. They hardly got going, Son Heung-min was barely in the game and the defensive 4-4-2 shape meant they were barely able to construct passing moves that might concern the equally dull Sweden they were up against. 29. Nigeria Victor Moses argues with the referee over the penalty awarded to Croatia Credit: Getty Images Ahorrible performance from a group of players who didn't seem to grasp quite how important their opening game at the World Cup was. Whether the manager's fault or those in green shirts, there was no urgency, no great surge to try and rescue a point, an isolated striker and full-backs who weren't allowed to get forward. Nigeria should be so much better than this. 28. Costa Rica Costa Rica's Keylor Navas's performance was the strongest in his team, but still couldn't stop this Serbian free kick Credit: Getty Images Didn't have the quality to lay a glove on Serbia but worked hard, were organised and showed some real glimpses of skill. Bet their entire betting account that targeting Branislav Ivanovic would yield goals, it didn't happen, Serbia scored two. Unfortunate but that their goalkeeper was the standout once more tells a story. 27. Iran Iran were the undeserving winners of their first tie against Morocco Credit: Getty Images Boring to watch. Scrappy, broke up play with constant fouling and sat in a low block to frustrate Morocco... then stole the three points at the end without having a shot on goal (an own goal decided it). Possession: Morocco vs Iran Organised and difficult to break down but don't really have anything in attack that will concern opposition. 26. Egypt Mo Salah was unable to contribute to his side's opening loss against Uruguay Credit: AP Frustrated Uruguay throughout, remained compact and kept two strikers up to try and counter-attack if they could get hold of possession. Did well to contain Uruguay's attacking talent but clearly missed their talisman Mo Salah to take advantage of turnovers. He returned for the defeat to Russia but looked some way short of his best and Egypt, unfortunately, look likely to be heading home soon. 25. Morocco A last minute Iran winner left Morocco heartbroken at the end of their first match of the tournament Credit: AFP Devastated by that defeat to Iran, Morocco were bright going forward, carved out chances but were undone at the last by that own goal. They press high, keep possession well and are forward-thinking on the ball. Need that to pay dividends against Portugal. 24. Poland Credit: AFP Nothing if not disappointing. Were thoroughly undone by Senegal and offered little imagination, passing sideways, leaving it until the final five minutes to actually show some attacking passion. Robert Lewandowski could hardly get on the ball but it was a poor team performance rather than his. Much work to do. 23. Sweden A penalty decided Sweden's first tie against South Korea Credit: Getty Images A 4-4-2, attack down the channels, hit the ball in the box for the strikers... and they beat South Korea with a penalty. Nothing particularly exciting going on here but it's a solid team lacking any real stars. Seb Larsson's set piece delivery will be key going forward. 22. Peru Peru were strong in their opener but without reward as they lost to Denmark Credit: Getty Images A lovely team to watch. Fizzed around the pitch, sent runners into space constantly and were unfortunate to be caught on the counter-attack just the once to allow Denmark's winning goal. 21. Tunisia Tunisia were beaten by England on set pieces Credit: Getty Images Really good with the ball, adapted to England's threats quickly (tactically adept) and broke up play when necessary. Unlucky to concede at the end but were second best to every set piece. 20. Japan Japan caused an upset, beating Colombia's 10-man team Credit: Getty Images Catapulted into a huge advantage with an early red card for Colombia's Carlos Sanchez and took it. Some excellent forward play and Shinji Kagawa was particularly impressive along with Takashi Inui. Can definitely get more out of this group. 19. Colombia Carlos Sanchez was shown the first red of the tournament Credit: AP Going down to 10 men wasn't a great start and it's hard to accurately evaluate Colombia. James Rodriguez not being fully fit was always going to make a difference but any team made to play 87 minutes without one of their key players is going to struggle. As it was, Colombia did pretty well and were close to getting a draw. 18. Denmark Denmark did well to get past a creative Peru side Credit: AFP Nothing special but put in a disciplined display and got the job done. Had to run a lot to deal with an effervescent Peru and Christian Eriksen was by far their main threat. If he can be marked out the game there's not much creativity in the side. 17. Australia Australia were unlucky to not at least get a point from their tie against France Credit: Getty Images Deserved a point against France. Kept the ball, played out from the back and created chances to score from open play but particularly at set-pieces, which is where their real threat comes from. Entirely capable of getting results against Peru and Denmark. 16. Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) was strong upfront for Serbia Credit: Getty Images Strong defensively and, in Aleksandar Mitrovic, up front too. The striker got himself into several goalscoring positions thanks to balance and power but his finishing let the side down. Had he found the target, Serbia would have won by more than the one goal that beat Costa Rica. Can create chances from a variety of places and defended well, despite the ageing Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivanovic being targeted at full-back. 15. Senegal Credit: REUTERS Organised, calm in possession and rapid on the counter-attack, Senegal were great against Poland and deserved their win. On paper they have everything to go far and on the pitch they look a dangerous outfit, creating heaps of chances, easily burning past defenders on the wing and shutting down Poland attacks early. 14. Uruguay Luis Suarez under-performed against Egypt Credit: Reuters Lacked width against Egypt and Luis Suarez was dreadful buuuuuuut got the job done and looked strong defensively. If Suarez can sort his form out and the manager can figure a way to better create chances, the excellent defence will provide the basis of a team who can go far in this tournament. 13. Iceland Iceland contained Lionel Messi well enough to take a point in their first tie of the tournament Credit: Reuters Really well drilled, entirely happy sitting in a low block and frustrating their opponents but knew when to move into attacking positions themselves, transitioning well on turnovers in possession. Made Lionel Messi look pretty ordinary. 12. Argentina Messi's Argentina looked far from where they need to be to be real contenders in Russia Credit: Getty Images Don't seem to know quite what sort of team they should be, or even what the best lineup is. The only certainty is that they are entirely reliant on Messi. Everything went through him or to him, to the point it was probably detrimental to the team. Nobody else seemed able to scare Iceland and they ran out of ideas quickly. Still though. Messi. You know. 11. Germany The world champions got a shock to the system as Mexico beat them 1-0 in their first match of the group stage Credit: AFP Took a suicidal tactical approach, looked disjointed and got the very worst out of Mesut Ozil. This performance was like Arsenal in their usual mid-season slip-up and there is absolutely no way that Joachim Low can allow another one like it if Germany want to stay in the World Cup, let alone win it. That said, some of the attacking play was excellent and in theory the tactical plan made sense. Mexico were just too good. 10. Croatia Luka Modric was unsurprisingly a big influence in the midfield for Croatia Credit: AP Hard to evaluate after being afforded something close to a training game against Nigeria but the defence works well as a unit, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic completely ran the midfield and when able to attack in their 4-2-4 shape, created heaps of chances. 9. Russia Russia opened the tournament with a bang in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia Credit: Getty Images Perhaps the biggest surprise at all so far in this tournament, Sat coiled like a spring against Saudi Arabia but even a slinky would have caused damage. Quick counter-attacks and a a wave of momentum was enough to mark Russia's arrival at their own World Cup. Rode that wave into an impressive win against Egypt, powering away from their opponents after being gifted the lead through an own goal. Tougher tests await, but who knows how far their own support can carry them? World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more 8. France France got the result they wanted, but will need to do better against stronger teams in the draw Credit: Getty Images A talented bunch of players rather than a team at the moment and Didier Deschamps seems to approach things far too cautiously. Didn't get it right against Australia, who deserved more than the zero points they won. A change of approach going forward should/could make France much more entertaining - and better. 7. Belgium Belgium's 'Golden Generation' were lacklustre in their tournament opener Credit: Getty Images Disjointed, struggled to build play and far too static off the ball for much of the first half but looked a menace after switching to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half. They scored their third almost immediately after that change. The quality of player they have to select from means they'll cause anyone problems but the performance against Panama was stupidly reminiscent of old Golden Generation England teams. So much promise, so little delivery. 6. Switzerland Switzerland caused more problems for Brazil than most anticipated they would Credit: Getty Images Came into the tournament underrated but don't look like they'll leave that way. Handled Brazil's attacking threat with dogged, disciplined defending and some great organisation then focused their attacks down the left. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to frustrate but there's a good average skill level of player in the team. 5. England Gareth Southgate's (left) plans are still on track thanks to Harry Kane's 91st minute winner Credit: AP Refreshingly calm and composed, a system that suits the players and a team which entertained while grinding out a 2-1 win. Harry Kane is an exceptional talent and while there are clear flaws in Gareth Southgate's team, they were genuinely impressive and fun to watch. It doesn't even feel right to type that. Also, if you feel like this might be classic 'getting ahead of themselves' media patriotism, please bear in mind that this writer is Scottish. 4. Brazil Neymar's Brazil will be looking to improve on their draw in the next round of the group stage Credit: Barcroft Images A little more subdued than we might have expected but some of the passing moves were wonderful to watch. Dropped deep immediately after scoring rather than going for the kill and may have suffered for it 3. Mexico Celebrations in Mexico over their national team's victory against Germany set off earthquake sensors Credit: AFP Absolutely fantastic to watch. Mexico got their gameplan spot on and were electric from kick-off, opting for a brave tactic that pushed three forwards high up the pitch to prey on Germany's vulnerability to counter-attacks. The speed of attack, skill on the ball and the impressive way Mexico dealt with Germany's own attacks will leave the rest of Group E fearful. Will that harm their chances of counter-attacking? Very probably. It will be interesting to see how they can adapt their game to more cautious opponents. 2. Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick snatched Portugal a point against Spain Credit: Getty Images Team Ronaldo were expected to defend in numbers, frustrate and rely on counter-attacks and set pieces for goals. Then they went and put three past Spain. They showed a different side to their game, an ability to mix things up and in Ronaldo, that they have the best player in the entire tournament. 1. Spain Spain's less than ideal start to the tournament, with the sacking of their manager, was matched by their draw against Portugal - where Diego Costa netted two of their three goals Credit: Getty Images It felt like a defeat in the end but it's important to remember what really happened. A penalty, a goalkeeper error and an incredible free-kick were what forced Spain into a draw but for the most part, they produced some stunning football and will improve now the opening match jitters are done with. Diego Costa finally looks like he suits the team while Isco, David Silva and Iniesta controlled the midfield. Maybe the manager isn't that important after all. World Cup whatsapp promo
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (C-L) and Marcelo (R) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (C-L) and Marcelo (R) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (C-L) and Marcelo (R) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (R) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (R) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (R) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (L) and Thiago Silva (C) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (L) and Thiago Silva (C) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazilian players Neymar (L) and Thiago Silva (C) attend their team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 21/06/2018.- Brazil's Neymar (C) attends his team's training session in St.Petersburg, Russia, 21 June 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica in their FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E preliminary round soccer match on 22 June 2018. (Mundial de Fútbol, Brasil, Rusia) EFE/EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
<p>One of the biggest names in world football at the moment, the 26-year-old forward is the star of the Brazil national team and led the forward line in his side’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland. He has made a foray into Hollywood, appearing in the action film <em>xXx: Return of Xander Cage </em>as himself. (PHOTO: Reuters) </p>
Neymar Jr. (Brazil)

One of the biggest names in world football at the moment, the 26-year-old forward is the star of the Brazil national team and led the forward line in his side’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland. He has made a foray into Hollywood, appearing in the action film xXx: Return of Xander Cage as himself. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
Messi is saving himself for the knockouts of the World Cup
Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
Messi is saving himself for the knockouts of the World Cup
Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
Messi is saving himself for the knockouts of the World Cup
Rob Lee says big name players like Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi are pacing themselves during the group stages of the World Cup.
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Brazil and Costa Rica where anything but victory could leave the Brazilians, one of the favourites in Russia, in a difficult position to advance to the knockout stages. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It will start at 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? You can watch live coverage on ITV or ITV HD. Alternatively, you can follow our live blog. Where is the game being played? It's taking place at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. World Cup 2018 stadium: Saint Petersburg Stadium What is the team news? Brazil have been going to great lengths to make sure everyone knows Neymar is fit. A day after he limped out of training and raised further doubts about his physical condition in Russia, Brazil's Football Federation was quick to tell the world the team's biggest star was just fine. Brazil had a closed practice session on Wednesday, but the federation posted photos and a video of Neymar in action in training with the rest of the squad. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game One of the photos showed the playmaker touching the ball with his injured right ankle. The images showed him exchanging passes and making challenges. In a longer version of the video sent to journalists, Neymar took free kicks. "Neymar practiced the whole time," Brazil later said on their official website. "He showed confidence and participated actively during the whole session." What's the latest news? Costa Rica are on the back foot having lost to Serbia in their opening game. "I don't think it was clear that any team deserved to win that game, but sometimes football is very complex - there's a very thin line between winning and losing," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said. The Costa Ricans, however, will not fall into the trap of focusing all their defensive efforts on Brazil playmaker Neymar. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage "If you concentrate too much on one guy, they can just put on another in attack, so you just have to be very organised, have good communication and marking. You can have everything planned but with this kind of player, it's tough," Borges added. Even with a decent result on Friday, Costa Rica face an uphill task in their final group game against a Swiss side that drew 1-1 with Brazil in their Group E opener, but Borges said the squad could still advance to the knockout rounds. "We Costa Ricans are capable of great things when we join together and stay tight. I always think there's a possibility," he said. What are the odds? Brazil 2/9 Costa Rica 18/1 Draw 11/2 What's our prediction? Brazil have a solid record against their south American rivals with their only defeat in nine meetings coming way back in 1960. We're predicting a comfortable win for Tite's side. Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica
World Cup 2018, Brazil vs Costa Rica: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Brazil and Costa Rica where anything but victory could leave the Brazilians, one of the favourites in Russia, in a difficult position to advance to the knockout stages. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It will start at 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? You can watch live coverage on ITV or ITV HD. Alternatively, you can follow our live blog. Where is the game being played? It's taking place at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. World Cup 2018 stadium: Saint Petersburg Stadium What is the team news? Brazil have been going to great lengths to make sure everyone knows Neymar is fit. A day after he limped out of training and raised further doubts about his physical condition in Russia, Brazil's Football Federation was quick to tell the world the team's biggest star was just fine. Brazil had a closed practice session on Wednesday, but the federation posted photos and a video of Neymar in action in training with the rest of the squad. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game One of the photos showed the playmaker touching the ball with his injured right ankle. The images showed him exchanging passes and making challenges. In a longer version of the video sent to journalists, Neymar took free kicks. "Neymar practiced the whole time," Brazil later said on their official website. "He showed confidence and participated actively during the whole session." What's the latest news? Costa Rica are on the back foot having lost to Serbia in their opening game. "I don't think it was clear that any team deserved to win that game, but sometimes football is very complex - there's a very thin line between winning and losing," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said. The Costa Ricans, however, will not fall into the trap of focusing all their defensive efforts on Brazil playmaker Neymar. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage "If you concentrate too much on one guy, they can just put on another in attack, so you just have to be very organised, have good communication and marking. You can have everything planned but with this kind of player, it's tough," Borges added. Even with a decent result on Friday, Costa Rica face an uphill task in their final group game against a Swiss side that drew 1-1 with Brazil in their Group E opener, but Borges said the squad could still advance to the knockout rounds. "We Costa Ricans are capable of great things when we join together and stay tight. I always think there's a possibility," he said. What are the odds? Brazil 2/9 Costa Rica 18/1 Draw 11/2 What's our prediction? Brazil have a solid record against their south American rivals with their only defeat in nine meetings coming way back in 1960. We're predicting a comfortable win for Tite's side. Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica
Neymar is a fitness doubt for Brazil's clash with Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)
Neymar is a fitness doubt for Brazil's clash with Costa Rica
Neymar is a fitness doubt for Brazil's clash with Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)
Neymar will play for Brazil against Costa Rica after injury fears (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)
Neymar will play for Brazil against Costa Rica after injury fears
Neymar will play for Brazil against Costa Rica after injury fears (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)

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