With France being the only team out of the Official Fifa/Coca Cola top ten rankings with a (very unconvincing) win under their belts thus far in Russia (with Belgium still yet to play), that begs the question, why are the so-called ‘top teams’ in the tournament struggling to beat an opposition of much weaker calibre.
Both 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina and Germany failing to get opening game wins. With the latter losing yesterday to Mexico, we take a look at why the stronger teams may be struggling against weaker opposition.
After the World Cup kicked off last Thursday and Russia comfortably saw off Saudi Arabia in Moscow, many have been excited to see a their team get into action. Many people have asked, how will Lionel Messi play in what could be his final World Cup, how will Brazil’s new front three of Neymar Coutinho and Jesus compete on the biggest stage with a lot wondering how current victors Germany will get on. Well, the answer to all of these questions after they have all completed their opening fixtures, is that all have been very unconvincing.
I believe all who have watched the World Cup so far can all agree that the pick of the bunch has been Portugal v Spain, as a Cristiano Ronaldo performance stunned the globe, hitting a hat-trick against arguably the best goalkeeper in the World, David De Gea. The match had such good quality and entertainment that it really began to excite fans around the world as they believed this is what we had install for the remainder of the tournament. Both teams played with maximum efforts as they knew they were each up against a heavy weight of International football, which is why other teams may have struggled.
Watching Argentina being held by Iceland on Saturday was painful, as the Argentinians could have carried on for another day and they wouldn’t have scored against the resolute defence of Iceland. The structure and work ethic the Icelandic players worked under was so clear to see that it seemed to dishearten the Argentinians who didn’t create a real clear attempt after captain Lionel Messi’s penalty was saved.
This same desire was shown by the Mexicans who faced the World Champions yesterday. The Germans did not seem interested, especially first half as minimal effort was used to track back and look to win the ball as Lozano took it past Boating in the box. The same shown second half as the Mexicans should have probably seen the game off with a number of coater-attacks on a very limited German defence.
It has been clear in recent years even, that if teams follow a game plan set up to have all 11 men behind the ball, then it is easier to compete. We’ve seen it many a time in England this season, the best example being Huddersfield Towns 2-1 win over Manchester United, as Huddersfield boasted 3 shots on target, but defended extremely well to keep a tough United side out. So possibly managers have worked out more ways to keep these high profile players at bay, either way, the work rate and structure of these teams has been clear to see in the matches so far.
Perhaps, the standard of defending has improved, or maybe its because of the lack of passion and desire by these top class players to deliver against their minnow opponents. What we do know is that these minnows have all had a game plan, which most have executed perfectly by gaining a positive result against a team in which they are given no chance to compete with.
With England facing Tunisia tonight, we can hope that it doesn’t happen to Gareth Southgate’s men, as English could be the first team to send out a message to the other teams which would be a great feeling for all English fans.
FOOTBALLS COMING HOME LADIES AND GENTLEMAN
Why do you think the ‘big teams’ are stumbling at the first hurdle? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us at @AllOutFootball_ with the hashtag #AOF!