The satisfactions and disappointments of the start of the competition in Qatar
After Brazil’s victory against Serbia (2-0), on Thursday, November 24, the 32 nations of the World Cup in Qatar played their first match. And after five days of competition, the first lessons are already to be learned, between feats, disappointments, revelations and confirmations. Overview.
THEY ARE IN SHAPE
Spain in its most perfect state
To say that La Roja has started its World Cup on the right foot is an understatement. Four years after their elimination in the round of 16 in Russia, against the host country, the Spanish team set the tone in their first match in Qatar. In Group E, Costa Rica was swept 7-0 by Luis Enrique’s men. With a young squad and talent everywhere, including on the bench (six different scorers), Spain impresses and can shake up Germany, their next opponent on November 27.
England got off to a good start
The European runners-up nations did not tremble against Iran, their first opponent in pool B. The Three Lions quickly disposed of the Iranians with a clear 6-2 victory. Nuggets Bukayo Saka (double) and Jude Bellingham scored, along with slightly more experienced Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. England now hope that forward Harry Kane, injured in his ankle, will be ready for the match against the United States on November 25.
Richarlison sublimates Brazil
He does not shine in the Premier League with his new club Tottenham (only two goals since the start of the season, only in the Champions League). Instead, with the Brazil jersey on his back, Richarlison is on fire. The striker continued his good run of goals with the national team against Serbia in Group G (2-0). It was he who confirmed the dominance of the Auriverdes by opening the scoring after the break. And it was also he who scored the half-time goal with a good snip. The only shadow over the Brazilian team: the departure of Neymar, injured in his right ankle.
Giroud in the history of the France team
With Karim Benzema’s package, Olivier Giroud has once again become the Blues’ permanent striker, with Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann to accompany him, as in 2018, as well as Ousmane Dembélé. And the Milanese did not take long to return the confidence that Didier Deschamps gave him. If he hadn’t scored in Russia, Giroud scored twice in the Blues’ win against Australia in Group D (4-1), after a few difficult first minutes. He is now the co-top scorer in the history of the France team, tied with Thierry Henry with 51 goals. Will he ascend the throne alone in the next match against Denmark on November 26?
THEY NEED TO DO BETTER
Belgium thanks Courtois and Batshuayi
Third in the last World Cup, the Belgians fought to beat Canada (1-0, group F), back in the World Cup after only one participation in 1986. It almost started very badly with a penalty conceded in the first minutes. Fortunately, Thibaut Courtois, the best goalkeeper of the 2018 World Cup, unleashed Alphonso Davies’s shot. Then, Michy Batshuayi found the opening before the break. The Red Devils won, of course, but the Canada Reds deserved better with more success in their many opportunities.
Given the favorites of group D, perhaps even ahead of France, Denmark did not live up to their last good results. Against Tunisia, Christian Eriksen and his family couldn’t do better than one goalless tie (0-0). The Carthage Eagles caused problems for the Danish Dynamite, unable to develop their game, this result will force Denmark to fight until the end to reach the round of 16.
Uruguay without a voice
We can line up veteran Luis Suárez and high hopes Darwin Núñez and Facundo Pellistri from the start, then throw Edinson Cavani into the ring and keep Federico Valverde and his cannonballs on the pitch, and shut up in front of the opposing cage. Against South Korea (group H), Uruguay did not find the foul despite their offensive arguments. It is not the best way to prepare to face Portugal.
Portugal in pain
The most optimistic will remember the victory (3-2, group H) and the record of Cristiano Ronaldo, scorer in five editions of the World Cup (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022). But he was a weak first game against Ghana for the Portuguese. Defensive shortcomings allowed the Black Stars to come back from 1-1 and then believe in it until the end. It does not reassure for the future.
THEY STARTED VERY BAD
Argentina falls from very high
The happiness of the “small” is the unhappiness of the “big”. Saudi Arabia succeeded one of the greatest feats in its history by reversing the current and triumphing over Lionel Messi’s Argentina (2-1, group C), in what will remain the first thunder of this World Cup. While Saudi King Salman ben Abdelaziz al-Saud decreed a holiday the day after the feat, the albiceleste was pondering. Unable to react, the Argentines, defending South American champions, now fear a very premature elimination.
A copy and paste of the Argentine misadventure would also go well to describe the snub experienced by the Nationalmannschaft against Japan. The Germans led 1-0 and failed to take cover. And when they arrived, it was the Samurai Blue who were able to exult thanks to their last quarter of an hour of madness which allowed them to win 2-1 (group E). Are Germany heading for another first round exit? Watch out for the clash against Spain now.
African teams on hold
Five games, two draws (Denmark-Tunisia, Morocco-Croatia), three defeats (Senegal-Netherlands, Switzerland-Cameroon, Portugal-Ghana), only two goals for the Ghanaians: the first matchday was not really a great success for the five African nations. They will have to raise their heads if the continent does not want to revive the zero points of 2018 (not classified to the round of 16).
Lewandowski remains silent
Hard, hard to be Polish. International since 2008, captain and top scorer of the team with 76 goals, Robert Lewandowski is still angry with the World Cup. Poland did not qualify in 2010 and 2014. And in 2018 the forward did not score (elimination in the first round). In this 2022 World Cup he could have unlocked his against Mexico. But Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa delayed his penalty. Lewandowski is therefore still looking for a goal in the World Cup.
Qatar is disappointed
As the host country and 2019 Asian champion, Qatar did not expect such a difficult opening game. Ecuador was not impressed and cooled Bordeaux (2-0). In the stands, the fans had little taste of spectacle and many of them left before the final whistle, leaving a very sparse Al Bayt stadium. The Qatari team will now hope to regain their footing against African champions Senegalese.