Sports Football 29 Jun 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018: ...

FIFA World Cup 2018: What we learnt from the group stage matches

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | P N VISHNU
Published Jun 29, 2018, 12:53 pm IST
Updated Jun 29, 2018, 4:04 pm IST
The knockouts begin with two mouthy-watering clashes: Uruguay v Portugal and France v Argentina.
(Photo: AFP)
 (Photo: AFP)

Moscow: The 2018 FIFA World Cup group stage concluded on Thursday, with Belgium defeating England 1-0 in a group G contest which saw the Red Devils top the group.

As a result, the full schedule of the round of 16 was soon confirmed, with Belgium locking horns with Japan while England will face a tough Colombian challenge.

 

However, the knockouts begin with two mouthy-watering clashes: Uruguay v Portugal and France v Argentina.

Ahead of the knockouts, we look at the things we learnt from the group stage.

1) Defending Champions’ curse continues

Joachim Loew-coached Germany crashed out of the World Cup after a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to South Korea. However, a defending champion crashing out of the group stages of a football World Cup is nothing new.

1998 champions France crashed out in the first stage of the 2002 tournament, whereas Italy, winners of the 2006 tournament crashed out in the 2010 edition.
Before Germany, the latest defending champions to crash out were Spain, winners of the 2010 tournament who crashed out in Brazil four years ago.

2) Don’t write off Lionel Messi yet

After a poor showing in Argentina’s first two group games against Iceland and Croatia, Lionel Messi celebrated his post-birthday bash in style as he scored the opening goal in the team’s all-important clash against Nigeria.

Despite Nigeria equalising in the second half, Marcus Rojo’s winner ensured Argentina’s knockout berth.

Messi was earlier criticised for missing a penalty during Argentina’s clash against Iceland, which ended in 1-1. That match took place just days after Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Spain, with that match finishing 3-3.

3) Poland crash out early

With star man Robert Lewandowski in the team, Poland were expected to go beyond the group stage of the World Cup.

Two back-to-back losses to Japan and Colombia meant that they would leave Russia early, and there was nothing much to celebrate for them as they suffered yet another loss to Senegal, who too, missed out on qualification.

4) No African team in last 16 for first time since 1982

For the first time since 1982, the World Cup will not see any African team in the knockout stage. Senegal had a day to forget, having been knocked out of the tournament via a fair-play basis.

Both Senegal and Japan were tied on four points, tied on goal difference, and only fair-play could determine who would go through. Senegal had seen six yellow cards than compared to Japan's four.

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