Tag Archives: FIFA World Cup

TWITTER REACTS: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia

Following Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup, here’s how Twitter reacted.

The goal-fest certainly wets the appetite for the rest of the tournament:

Gary Lineker was quick to criticise the Arabian side:

Soon to be in the papers…

After initially thinking that the game would be won by narrow margins, the result came as quite a shock. This is even more evident when you look at the statistics:

Alex Bullions perfectly summed of the match:

Paddy Power showed their class:

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FULL PREVIEW: FIFA World Cup 2018 – Every country examined

I take a look at every single country taking part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia ahead of the tournament.

Group A

Egypt – Unfortunately the focus on Egypt’s key player, Mohamed Salah, is for the wrong reasons ahead of the World Cup. Salah who is the Premier League’s highest scorer is facing doubts as to whether he will be ready for the World Cup following the Champions League final where the 25 year-old was forced off with a shoulder injury after being taken down by Sergio Ramos. He has been named in the squad, though. Egypt are currently ranked 30th in the FIFA rankings.

Russia – Could home advantage provide a catalyst for Russia to make history? The answer is, most likely not. However, advancing from their group seems very likely with their favourable draw and it will surely be the least that the host nation’s supporters expect. Most of the sides’ players play in the Russian leagues but the likes of ‘keeper Igor Akinfeev and attacker Fyodor Smolov will be the ones to look out for.

Saudi Arabia – Juan Antonio Pizzi’s team will be hoping to put previous World Cup blushes behind them after failing to qualify for the previous two World Cups. They are clear outsiders and the likes of Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, who is their leading scorer for the national team with 28 goals in 38 appearances, will have to be on top of their game if they are to stand a chance of making it out of the group.

Uruguay – Arguably the most favoured side in the group, Uruguay advanced to the World Cup semi-finals back in 2010 and the veteran team also won the Copa America in 2011 with many players from these tournaments still in the side. With a strong defence and plenty of bite going forwards, they are expected to do well in this competition.

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Group B

Iran – Whilst they may be underdogs, Iran qualified for the tournament fantastically. The Iranians topped their qualification group with 22 points from 10 matches. Moreover, Iran didn’t lose a single match in their qualification group. Sardar Azmoun could prove key, the 23 year-old scored seven goals on Iran’s road to qualification.

Morocco – The Moroccans have only qualified once from the group stages of a World Cup in their history, but could they be dark horses? Even Portugal and Spain may struggle to break down their tough defence and this defensive security will be crucial if they are to finish ahead of the big guns in the group. They are captained by Juventus’ Medhi Benatia.

Portugal – Portugal head to Russia as European Champions after their triumph at Euro 2016, in France. I think nobody needs to be notified about just how good this side can be, and how emphatic a certain, Cristiano Ronaldo can be. The nation’s supporters will expect their team to qualify. Portugal’s best ever finish at a World Cup is 3rd place, in 1966.

Spain – The 2010 World Cup winners exited the competition in an embarrassing fashion in 2014, with a defeat at the hands of Chile following their humiliating 5-1 thrashing by Holland. With the past seemingly put behind them though, Spain managed to qualify for Russia with relative ease, winning nine out of ten games and scoring an impressive tally of 36 goals in the process. However, with the likes of Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa facing issues with form and tension ahead of the tournament, it could prove to be difficult for La Furia Roja for another year.

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Group C

Australia – Veteran striker Tim Cahill played an important role in the Socceroos’ qualification, scoring eleven goals. Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy and Brighton’s goalkeeper Matthew Ryan are the Premier League starlets to feature in the team.

Denmark – Denmark qualified for Russia after defeating the Republic of Ireland 5-1 in the play-offs. Tottenham maestro, Christian Eriksen was Denmark’s most creative player throughout qualification and scored 8 goals in the 10 qualifying matches, and it is likely that he will be of similar importance in Russia. They will be very much fancied to qualify from the group stage.

France – The clear favourites of Group C, France, qualified for the World Cup ahead of Sweden and Holland. France have a clear attacking threat, but the way in which France will be able to protect the ball by utilising players like N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi ahead of the solid defence, will make them very difficult to beat. Could Les Bleus make amends for their Euro 2016 woes, with glory in Russia? They are ranked 7th in the FIFA world rankings.

Peru – Los Incas qualified for the World Cup after defeating New Zealand 2-0 in the play-offs. A key player to look out for is Andre Carrillo, who was on-loan at Watford this season. Whilst during his time with the Hornets he has not been particularly prolific, but the winger is more than capable of causing trouble in the final third due to his rapid pace.

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Group D

Argentina – All eyes will be focused on Lionel Messi in this talented side, and the striker will be hoping to finally win an international competition. Of course, this is by no means a one-man team, with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria accompanying Messi up front. Defending could prove to be the hindrance in Russia for Jorge Sampaoli’s squad, such frailties nearly saw them miss out on qualification. They should make it out of the group stage though. They are currently 5th in the FIFA world rankings.

Croatia – Another team who could be a surprise hit this summer is Croatia. A midfield consisting of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic wets the appetite, and this could mean that the nation ranked 17th best by FIFA could be very pleasing to watch.

Iceland – This is Iceland’s first ever appearance at a World Cup and following their historic victory which knocked out England from the Euros, the famous ‘thunderclap’ will most likely echo around the streets of Russia. With few massive names in the team, but a clear togetherness of the side, the Icelandic squad will be ready to surprise many.

Nigeria – For Nigeria, this is their sixth time participating in a World Cup. Nigeria have never made it past the last 16 at the World Cup and were knocked out in 2014 by France. Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa stand out as the key players. Unfortunately for Nigeria, this group seems like it will be tough to get out from, but if they play as good as their kit looks, they’ll be fine.

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Group E

Brazil – The stand out moment when thinking of Brazil is how they must overcome nerves from the infamous defeat in the 2014 semi-final, where they were crushed 7-1 by Germany. After scoring over 40 goals in qualification, Tite’s side promise to bring entertaining, high-intensity football this year, and as such they are the group favourites. Clear stand-out players in the team are Neymar, Phillipe Coutinho, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Gabriel Jesus.

Costa Rica – Group E underdogs Costa Rica surprised many by qualifying from their group in 2014, as they finished second. They will be hoping to do the same again. Real Madrid Goalkeeper Keylor Navas will be key to success.

Serbia – Serbia have likes of Aleksandar Kolarov, Branislav Ivanovic, and Nemanja Matic in their ranks to take to Russia. Their manager, Malden Krstajić, may be inexperienced, but with him being considered a Serbian legend he has the backing of the supporters.

Switzerland – Switzerland defeated Northern Ireland in the play-offs to secure themselves their place in Russia. Switzerland are a strong side with players such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Yann Sommer at their disposal. They are currently ranked sixth in the FIFA rankings.

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Group F

Germany – The 2014 champions, Germany are heavy favourites to win the coveted trophy again, in Russia. However, in their recent friendly games, the performances are nothing special to go by. Manager Joachim Low has had a selection issue for all the right reasons ahead of the tournament, as there are so many terrific players available to select.

Korea Republic – Korea qualified for the 2018 World Cup after finishing second in their qualification group behind Iran. They have a few Premier League players in their side including Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son. Son was awarded the title of International Asian player of the year in 2017.

Mexico – El Tri come in to the competition having only lost one of their qualifying games. Carlos Vela, who scored three goals on the road to Russia, will be the man to watch in Juan Osorio’s team. West Ham striker Javier Hernandez will also bring his own attacking impetus. This is their 7th consecutive World Cup finals this year.

Sweden – The Swedes managed to defy the odds by beating Italy to qualify so they should be brimming with confidence ahead of the start of the tournament in Russia.

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Group G

Belgium – Belgian are another side tipped for success, and rightly so. With a plethora of top class players in the squad, the Red Devils proved themselves by finishing qualification very well. The won nine out of their ten qualification matches, only dropping points in a 1-1 draw against Greece. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne will be able to express themselves safely knowing that the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have them covered. They promise to be dazzling to watch.

England – Will 52 years of hurt finally be over for the Three Lions? Well, England would have to pull off a few shocks in order to this to happen, but why not have some perhaps naïve optimism? There’s no denying that Gareth Southgate’s squad is full of talented players with, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Eric Dier and Gary Cahill to name just a few. The newly appointed captain, Kane Harry was the most prolific goal scorer in world football during 2017 and he finished as the second highest scorer in the Premier League this season. Let’s just hope he’s not taking any corners…

Panama – Panama qualified for the World Cup in dramatic fashion, finishing one point ahead of the USA and beating Honduras to a place via goal difference. Can they cause an upset in their first ever World Cup, in a difficult group?

Tunisia – The winners of the 2004 African Cup of Nations, Tunisia, look like they could struggle to make it out of the group. The main players in the team play their football in France’s first and second divisions. Wahbi Khazri, who used to play for Sunderland, is the one to watch.

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Group H

Columbia – Well known for their attractive, attacking football, Columbia also have a number of young defenders ready to break on to the international scene. Such examples are Tottenham’s 21 year-old centre back, Davinson Sanchez and Barcelona’s, Yerry Mina. Columbia have already proved that they can compete sufficiently against more fancied countries, by securing a draw against both Uruguay and Brazil.

Japan – The Japanese managed to secure their place in Russia by beating Australia 2-0 in the penultimate fixture. All eyes will be on Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki who will spearhead the attacks. The Japanese have also conceded just 7 goals throughout qualification, keeping four clean sheets in their ten matches.

Poland – Poland will have a point to prove after being unlucky to lose on penalties to Portugal in the quarter finals of Euro 2016. Poland did very well in the qualifiers winning 8 out of their 10 matches and scoring 28 goals in the process, however they have struggled to replicate this when entering the competition. They are arguably favourites to top the group due to the number of players that they have playing in the top divisions.

Senegal – Turn the clock back 16 years and the Senegalese defeated World Champions France before reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup. It’s also been 16 years since they were last in the tournament. Senegal now have a solid team that’s filled with many Premier League players, but arguably the best of the lot is Liverpool’s Sadio Mane who has scored ten times for the Reds this season.

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Football’s coming home!

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