It has been 16 days since the Mundial in Russia began. The group stages of the tournament began at the start of the tournament and successfully ended yesterday. It ended with Poland and Senegal going home to join the rest of the teams which couldn’t make it. The teams to qualify from Group G was already known before the last round of matches. This article will bring to your attention 8 things we learned from the group stages.
GOLDEN BOOT RACE GET MORE COMPETITIVE.
The race for the world cup golden boot have kicked into overdrive even before we reach the quarter final stage. A lot of players came to the world cup prepared to win this award. It is still a surprise that the chart is led by 5 goals just after the completion of the Group stages. At this rate the probability of doubling the number of goals that won it 4 years ago is high.
Harry Kane overtook Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring 5 goals in 2 matches. He could have added to that tally had he played in his final Group stage match. Romelu Lukaku also has 4 goals to his name from 2 matches just like Kane. Ronaldo drops from 1st to 3rd on the chart. Denis Cheryshev and Diego Costa are still very much in the race with 3 goals, and not to think of the players with 2 goals.
ALL AFRICAN TEAMS EXIT FROM THE GROUP STAGES.
For the first time in more than 30 years, no African team advanced to the next stage of the world cup in Russia. All 5 African teams exited the world cup in the Group Stage of the competition. It looked like Nigeria and Senegal will represent Africa at the round 16th stage of the tournament, then Nigeria was kicked courtesy of a late Argentina goal.
All hopes was pinned on Senegal to keep the African dream alive. They did so for the better part of the game in their match against Colombia. A corner kick in the final 15 minutes of the game booted them out of the tournament. In fact, what really kicked them out of the tournament was fair play (number of yellow cards accumulated). And just like that no African team was left in Russia.
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS KICKED OUT FROM THE GROUP STAGES.
Germany, the winners of the world cup from 4 years ago also known as the defending champions were booted out of Russia in style. The tournament holders won just a single match in their campaign to retain the title. They lost 2 matches in the Group stage to Mexico and South Korea. The most shocking of the defeat is the loss to South Korea.
It was so because South Korea is a team which doesn’t come to the quality Germany possesses and had already exited the tournament. Their exit follows the trend of defending champions exiting the tournament from the Group stage since 2002.
SET PIECES WAS AFRICAN TEAMS ACHILLES HEEL.
The Achilles heel for African teams at the ongoing world cup was set pieces. Over 50 percent of the goals they conceded came from set pieces. All of them conceded more than two goals from set pieces in the tournament in Russia. That was what ultimately ruined the chances of Nigeria and Senegal from qualifying to the next round of the competition. They conceded the deciding goals from corner kicks late in the game.
ONE ASIAN REP PROGRESSES FROM THE GROUP STAGES.
Going into the Mundial in Russia, 4 teams qualified for the tournament. They were Japan, South Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia. They were all in difficult groups and had slim chances of progressing from the Group stages. All the representatives exited the competition going into the final round of matches except Japan. Japan qualified to the round 16th stage courtesy of fair play. They are the only representatives of Asia left in the tournament and all hopes of a continent rest on their shoulders.
ONE CONCACAF REP PROGRESSES FROM THE GROUP STAGES.
Three Concacaf representatives made it to the tournament in Russia. They were Mexico. Costa Rica and Panama. The three representatives found themselves in fairly difficult groups. Their chances of qualifying from the Group stages was insignificant. Mexico however qualified against all odds. They did so by beating Germany, the defending champions and South Korea to progress. They have the dreams of a continent on their shoulder since they are the only reps that made it to the next stage.
CONMEBOL AND EUROPEAN SIDES DOMINATE THE ROUND 16TH STAGE.
Most of the nations or teams that qualified from the Group stages to the round 16th stage are Conmebol and European sides. Of the 5 Conmebol sides that qualified to Russia 2018, 4 of them made it to the next round of the competition. That is 90 percent success rate or qualifying rate. The same can be said about European sides as well. Of the 13 nations that qualified to the tournament 9 of them have progressed to the next round. That represents 69 percent qualifying rate.
RUSSIA 2018 DEFYING EXPECTATIONS.
Much wasn’t expected of this year’s world cup when it was announced that Russia will be the host. It was mainly because of the racism issue. Russia not being a powerhouse in world football also accounted for such a reasoning. But just 16 days into the tournament and it is turning out to be a great one. Perhaps the best one since the finals in South Africa eight years ago. There is still more to come as we await the knock-out stages of the competition.
This are the ten things I have observed. If you agree with me comment on it in the comment section. If you disagree with me also share your opinions as well. Please share if you find the article interesting enough. Enjoy the world cup and Russia.