Things mostly went as expected in matchday 1, still we did get some surprises.. Anyway, let’s see what we have this round:
Group A: South Korea v Nigeria
Neither team had a good start, hell they had an awful one and if they want to stay alive they need to go for the victory. Both sides looked pretty bad, so can’t really tell you a favorite, but it should be interesting given that they both will go for it
Group A: Norway v France
On the other end of the spectrum, the two victorious teams will face each other. Even though both won fairly convincingly, I thought France looked stronger than Norway and with the home crowd on their side they will try to make it two wins in a row. This match will probably decide who ends first in the group
Group B: Germany v Spain
Germany won without much trouble, but they also didn’t look that strong. Although is debatable if that was because they weren’t challenged. On the other hand, Spain had to come back from a 1-0 deficit and a frankly atrocious first half to beat a South African team that was a victim of their own mistakes.
Group B: China v South Africa
South Africa looked much stronger than anticipated on their first match, specially on the first half and if they can keep that up (especially if China has no answer for Kgatlana) they could surprise China
Group C: Australia v Brazil
And what is now a must win match for Australia they couldn’t get a worse rival than Brazil. They will need to create something special to at least get a draw. Brazil’s strength is still unknown as Jamaica was a really weak rival, we will now on this match
Group C: Italy v Jamaica
After surprising Australia at the last of the last minutes, underdogs Italy could clinch their qualification if they win this match against a Jamaican team that was just dreadful (excluding their keeper).
Group D: Japan v Scotland
Scotland almost pulled the upset against England, who looked a little shaky at the end, while Japan could not do much in their draw against Argentina. Before these matches I would have put all my money on Japan, now I don’t know
Group D: Argentina v England
Seems like this group was made just for England to face countries with which they have had some “disagreements”. Anyway, Argentina did pull the draw but really didn’t who much, while England was really good until the last 20 mins or so. England really needs to show what they’re made of
Group E: Netherlands v Cameroon
Netherlands barely won against the kiwis and Cameroon barely lost against the favorite Canadians. This should be interesting
Group E: Canada v New Zealand
Canada has something to prove, lets see if New Zealand can push back
Group F: Chile v USA
The USA crushed Thailand, which was expected although maybe not a 13-0 (after the first half I though 7-0 would be probably it). Given this is a WC and goal difference can really decide your future on the bracket, I have no problem with running the score, but maybe don’t celebrate the 9th goal with more than a fist bump. On the other side, Chile didn’t show much except a good keeper, we’ll see what she can do
Group F: Sweden v Thailand
I feel for the Thai team, we’ll see if they have a better outing. Although, Sweden is gonna go all out if they want to catch the US
In soccer other competitions:
Competition starts on Saturday 6/15 with Canada facing Martinique, which should tell you a lot about this tournament. There’s not much to say on the group stages, unless things go really really bad, most of the favorites should advance to the next round. Maybe the US has a mildly complicated group as they share it with T&T and Panama (and also Guyana), while Mexico should have no problem (even if the team is currently a hospital) as their group has Canada, Martinique and Cuba
The oldest competition in the world (or so they claim) starts on 6/14 with Brazil facing Bolivia, even a Neymar-less Brazil should have not much problem with that. Other than that, the best match of matchday 1 should be Argentina v Colombia.
Also, as you can see from the groups table below we have two decidedly non-American teams: Japan and Qatar. If only Conmebol and Concacaf would just get their shit together we could have USA and Mexico back in the competition.
And that’s that for now. A lot of football this summer