World Cup: 8 mid-term takeaways on the pitch

Given that we are about halfway through the Men’s World Cup and the excitement of the final round of group stage fixtures is upon us, now seems like a good time to look back on the week and the biggest scenarios that have emerged on the ground so far.


Anyone watching this tournament rooted for underdogs must be thrilled. Just to recap:

Morocco can cap the group stage with a major achievement if they do enough damage against Canada on Thursday to finish top of Group F, which includes Belgium and Croatia.

The Saudis could advance with a win over Mexico on Wednesday, but a draw would put the Argentina-Poland result on the line. Japan face a tough task against an impressive Spanish side on Thursday, but a draw would mean Germany would need to beat Costa Rica by at least two goals to qualify.

The United States clinched their ticket to the Round of 16 on Tuesday after beating Iran.


Adding more to the drama was the dump truck value of so-called ‘stoppage time’ or ‘injury time’ minutes that were added at the end of the first and second halves of the matches.

Barring a major injury stoppage, seeing a minute or two added at the end of the first half and three or four at the end of the second half is considered normal. At this World Cup, however, we have seen at least five minutes added to the first halves on several occasions and several occasions of at least eight minutes added to the second halves.

When England played Iran, 14 minutes were added in the first half and then another 13 minutes in the second half. In Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales, they scored in the 98th and 101st minutes.

So what’s going on? Some studies have shown that during a regular 90-minute match, the ball is actually only in play for around 60 minutes, and the FIFA Referees Committee has sought to address more thoroughly not only time lost to goal celebrations, substitutions and injuries. , but usually wasted time when the ball is out of play.


Entering the tournament, the defending champions left the tournament after the group stage of the previous three World Cups and four of the last five. Italy won the World Cup in 2006 but didn’t make it past the group stage in 2010, the same happened to Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018.

France did the same in 2002 after winning in 1998.

With two straight wins, Les Bleus became the first team to secure a place in the round of 16 and looked to be the tournament’s best team in two games.

What makes their performances so far even more impressive is the fact that key players Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, Christopher Nkunku and Lucas Hernandez are all injured.


With his penalty against Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score at five World Cups, joining Canadian Christine Sinclair and Brazilian Marta who have already done so in the women’s edition of the tournament.

The 37-year-old goal also made Ronaldo the second-oldest man to score at a World Cup, behind Cameroon’s Roger Milla who did so aged 42 against Russia in the World Cup. 1994 World Cup.

Ronaldo is now both Portugal’s youngest and oldest World Cup goalscorer, his first goal at the tournament in 2006 against Iran aged 21.

The Portuguese legend has scored eight World Cup goals in 19 appearances since November 28. The record for most goals of all time is 16 for Germany’s Miroslav Klose in 24 matches.


Lionel Messi produced his own moment of magic at this tournament. A left-footed drive from just outside the box after the hour mark led Argentina to a vital 2-0 win over Mexico days after the Argentines suffered a stunning 2-1 loss to Barcelona. ‘Saudi Arabia.

With two goals in two matches, Messi took his tally in World Cups to eight to equal his rival Ronaldo as well as another Argentinian idol, Diego Maradona.

He may need more magic against Poland in Argentina’s final group game to secure his passage to the next round.


As the greats Ronaldo and Messi enjoy what is likely a final World Cup hurray, watching the next generation of stars has been a delight.

England’s Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, Holland’s Cody Gakpo, Brazil’s Vinicius Jr., Germany’s Jamal Musiala, Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus and, of course, Canada’s Alphonso Davies, among others, all impressed on the biggest stage , showing that the sport is holding up. to advance.

It’s also a bit ridiculous to think that Frenchman Kylian Mbappe is the superstar he is and is only 23 years old.


Richarlison’s tremendous scissor kick for Brazil against Serbia is going to take a serious push to get ahead.

His team-mate Casemiro gave his best with a spectacular half-volley for the winner of the game against Switzerland on Monday, but Richarlison’s goal was so good the best he could do was fight for second place.


Canada vs. Croatia generated an average viewership of 4.4 million viewers with a peak viewership of 5.4 million at 11:30 a.m. ET.

This makes it the most-watched soccer game in Canadian history and illustrates that the final score is only part of the story this special group of men wrote.

Too bad there is no hope of qualifying for the next round, but earning a first World Cup point or even a first victory against Morocco would be a great way to cap off a four-year streak of excellence for the men’s national team.


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