Brazil like France, lethargicly won their group and the attacking forces for him, such as Neymar and Gabriel Jesus were overshadowed by Barcelona’s Phillipe Coutinho who is having a great World Cup so far, Brazil looked so much more comfortable when playing through Coutinho than Neymar. In my opinion, Brazil seem to force the ball to Neymar on the left-wing therefore starving the right hand side and becoming predictable and Neymar seems to be playing for himself and not for the team, this is evident that when the game is not a contest Neymar is sprinting all around the pitch trying to get ‘his goal’, I understand that he wants the individual accolades but he needs to not become a detriment for his national side. Neymar is surrounded by talent but needs to utilise them, if Brazil are to progress and lift a 6th World Cup in Russia.
Costa Rica were eliminated by matchday 2 after a 2-0 defeat to Brazil looked solid due to the impressive Navas in-goal but lacked the attacking game changer to propel them into the last 16, they picked up a point against 2nd place Switzerland who were guaranteed a place in the knockout with a Serbia loss to Brazil in matchday 3.
Serbia, I thought were unlucky in their second game with Switzerland whereby they were denied a clear penalty for them Xherdan Shaqiri to score a late winner for the Swiss and turn out to be a crucial event in which sent the Serbians home. Serbia also had chances against Brazil whereby a victory would have sent them through, while trailing 1-0 due to a goal from Paulinho they started the second half well and dominated and saw Brazil stumble but the South American outfit survived and counter punched with a Thiago Silva header to then cruise to a 2-0 victory. Certainly plenty of positives for Brazil but they did look vulnerable at times in this group and will look to sharpen up in the upcoming games.
Prediction – Result
1. Brazil – Brazil
2. Serbia – Switzerland
3. Costa Rica – Serbia
4. Switzerland – Costa Rica
The reigning World Cup Champions out? Germany finished BOTTOM of Group F and exited the World Cup in dramatic fashion, after they lost 2-0 to South Korea. Mexico initially edged the sloppy Germans 1-0 in a game that if Mexico had a better final ball they’d have won by far more than a single goal, whilst Sweden beat South Korea in the opening game of group F.
Mexico impressed by making it 2 wins out of 2 against South Korea despite a great goal from Son, and a Toni Kroos 95th minute stunning free kick saved Germany from further embarrassment as they edged Sweden 2-1. Mexico youngster Lozano put in 2 great performances and started the cycle of rumours around his name, so that story is certainly one to keep an eye on. Sweden changed their attitude from ‘trying to win’ and led 1-0 to ‘trying not to lose’ and as they caved Germany finally found a way past the Swedish side.
Sweden produced the perfect professional performance as they topped group F with a 3-0 win over previously flawless Mexico, while the Germans looked once again off the pace and were frustrated by South Korea who leap-frogged the German side to 3rd in the group with the 2 late goals. It seems as if Joachim Löw put too much trust in the 2014 side that won the tournament with such players as Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller who looked off the pace and past their prime. Furthermore Timo Werner, the youngster from Bundesliga had a nightmare and finished without a goal and it was maybe a tournament too soon for him. Either way, we all know the Germans will be back but as an Englishman I did enjoy the result!
Prediction – Result
1. Germany – Sweden
2. Mexico – Mexico
3. Sweden – South Korea
4. South Korea – Germany
Group G had the biggest divide in the terms of good and poor teams in a single group, England and Belgium obtained maximum points after two games as they defeated both Tunisia and Panama with equal goal difference, 8 for and 2 against.
Therefore meaning that Belgium and England headed into the final game with the groups top and second seed to be decided, a talked about topic is that is ‘seems’ that the second seed would have an easier route to the final, so the question of dropping the game and finishing 2nd was better overall. Both teams drastically put out weaker sides and an Adnan Januzaj goal won the game for the Belgians, therefore completing the table as I predicted as Tunisia edged Panama to close it out.
England’s Harry Kane leads the golden boot race with 5 goals, with Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku having 4 goals. Other good performance’s have come from England’s Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and John Stones, while Belgium have had a strong performance from Eden Hazard against Tunisia in matchday 2.
Both teams will be content with their confidence building starts and progression to the next round, whereby Belgium face Japan and England face Columbia.
Funnily enough in my World Cup sweepstake with my friends I have both Belgium and England so with them both looking promising and being placed in the opposite sides of the breviary maybe they can meet in the final to get me some money!! Counting on England?!? Yeah maybe not.
Prediction – Result
1. Belgium – Belgium
2. England – England
3. Tunisia – Tunisia
4. Panama – Panama
Group H started with Japan beating a 10 man Columbia be without star man James Rodriguez starting, 2-1. While Senegal beat Poland, Poland really did disappoint me and I felt they could push Columbia for the top spot but I was dramatically proven wrong as they were eliminated after two games. The service to starman Robert Lewandowski maybe was a problem but for what I saw of Poland all the side was poor including Lewandowski.
Japan while looking poor did qualify as they edged Senegal to second place through their disciplinary record which came down to yellow cards, which a cruel way for the African side to be eliminated therefore meaning that no African side has made it to the World Cup last 16 this year.
Japan, Columbia and Senegal could all qualify on the final day and from an England standpoint whereby we’d play one of those sides I would have wanted to avoid Columbia initially as if James Rodriguez is fit, alongside the impressive Juan Quintero and Juan Cuadrado could cause problems and then Senegal would be a difficult game due to the pace that they have in Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. Japan didn’t look that impressive but got the job down in group H as they qualified second despite a final group game loss to the already eliminated Poland side.
Prediction – Result
1. Columbia – Columbia
2. Poland – Japan
3. Senegal – Senegal
4. Japan – Poland
So only the one prefect group out of all 8, that is pretty disappointing but the World Cup always throws up some surprises. I called 13 out of the last 16, which is not too bad with 6 correct group winners. Hopefully I can improve my predictions in the next round!