El Tri came flying out of el traps when Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano and his team-mates made child’s play of slicing open Germany in that exhilarating 1-0 win. Mexico followed that up with a deserved 2-1 win over South Korea, 'Little Pea' Javier Hernandez scoring his 50th international goal. However, what puts Mexico atop of this list - aside from their superb player nicknames - is upsetting the reigning world champions in their opening game. Results get no better.
That 3-0 destruction of an increasingly ragtag Argentina may have been slightly flattering based on just how alarmingly their opposition fell apart (thank you, secret agent Willy Caballero), but take nothing away from Croatia. They scored some superb goals, with Luka Modric displaying the skills that make him one of the world's best playmakers and their fine array of midfield talent clicking in a way that they hadn't quite in the 2-0 win over Nigeria. Six points, two clean sheets, superb stuff.
Billed as one of the weakest host nations ever, it was a surprise that Russia stormed out the biggest winners of round one with a 5-0 triumph. Admittedly Saudi Arabia being hapless helped, but Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin scored a couple of beauties in front of a glad-handing Vladimir Putin. A 3-1 win against Mohamed Salah's Egypt confirmed it: this Russia side boats a classier, more diverse attacking threat than many expected.
"What sort of a thing is going on here?" as ex-England manager Graham Taylor once said. The sensible, measured response to England scoring five goals in 45 minutes against Panama is to heed the words of Rio Ferdinand, who pointed out that England's opponents had played like a pub team (only much more violent). Yet it's shocking to see the usually stifled Three Lions playing with such attacking verve. A 2-1 win over Tunisia didn't reflect England's dominance, the 6-1 win over Panama did, Harry Kane has five goals in two games and we're all going to wake up soon.
Behind England on [checks notes] the fair play table, the Belgian report card reads a lot like that of their fellow Group G qualifiers. Belgian have put admittedly limited opposition to the sword, besting Panama 3-0 and Tunisia 5-2. Their striker is firing (Romelu Lukaku with four goals) and Eden Hazard shone against the Tunisians. The defence of Roberto Martinez's side is yet to be fully tested but the attacking parts are clicking impressively.
The highest ranked team not to win two games, because snatching a draw with Spain in a top-quality 3-3 thriller is about as good as a point gets. It took Cristiano Ronaldo following up that spectacular hat-trick with a header against Morocco to seal a tight 1-0 win, so the natural accusation is that this is a side overly reliant on their best player. But at least manager Fernando Santos has cleverly built a side that gets the best from his outstanding star player rather than plonking a superstar in a team and hoping for the best (cough, Argentina).
A 1-0 win over Iran thanks to Diego Costa's fortunate goal hardly convinced that Spain have found top gear under new manager Fernando Hierro. But it's easy to forget that Spain played some sublime stuff in that 3-3 draw with Portugal, with Isco shining and Andres Iniesta showing he still has some magic left. One bonus is that Costa – whose place in the starting XI was questioned pre-tournament – has started the tournament well with three goals.
A point against Brazil in their opener was a superb result for a Swiss side that looked set for a thrashing early on, but they followed that up with an even better result in that come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Serbia. An entertaining match could have gone either way, but superb goals from Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri settled matters to leave the Swiss flying high.
Maximum points for France, yet the questions over whether manager Didier Deschamps can get the best out of his richly talented squad remain. The 1-0 win over Peru was an improvement over the 2-1 victory over Australia, the introduction of Olivier Giroud making for a more balanced attacking three and allowing Kylian Mbappe to shine. However, France will have to find the form this side is surely capable of if they're to go deep into the knockout stages.
The second-most important person in Brazil's squad (OK, third if we're counting Neymar's hairdresser) has been their best at this World Cup so far. Philippe Coutinho's two goals have broken the deadlock against Switzerland and Costa Rica, helping the Selecao to four points. Yet the Brazilians, held into injury time by the Costa Ricans, still look a long way from their best while their duo of 33-year-old centre-backs didn't look rock solid against the Swiss.
Two wins out of two for La Celeste (and two clean sheets) but that perfection doesn't tell the full tale. Uruguay laboured to a late win over an Egypt side shorn of talisman Mo Salah, then beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in a wholly forgettable match. They deserved to win both games - and wily coach Oscar Tabarez will back his side to improve against superior opposition - but it says something that Russia scored eight goals against opponents that Uruguay could only net twice against.
An early contender for pleasant surprise package of the tournament. This was supposed to be the weakest Japan side in a generation, yet it's two good results from two games. The 2-1 win over Colombia comes with the massive caveat that their opponents hit the self-destruct button early on (Carlos Sanchez’s red card and penalty delivered the Blue Samurai an early lead and 87 minutes to play against 10 men). Yet Takashi Inui & Co. followed that up with a deserved point in a 2-2 draw with Senegal. A draw against Poland sees Japan through to the knockout stages.
The Lions of Teranga started well with a crucial 2-1 victory over Group H rivals Poland, shutting out Robert Lewandowski and becoming the only African side to win their opening match. Yet the shine is taken off that somewhat by how easily Colombia took apart the same opponents, winning 3-0. Senegal's entertaining 2-2 draw with Japan retains their unbeaten status and they've been good to watch but that final game against the Colombians, where a loss almost certainly sends Senegal home, looks a tricky task.
Just to show you how tight Group G is, we've bunched three of the sides into three spots (not Poland though: dire, hapless Poland). Colombia's first game was difficult to assess, as they played 87 minutes with 10 men - and with key man James Rodriguez not fit to start - in the loss to Japan. Against Poland, they showed what they could do: Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero and that man James partying like it was 2014 for a thumping 3-0 win. A first World Cup goal for Radamel Falcao made it a perfect day.
Denmark's strong position - four points from two games - isn't really matched by their performances. In their opener, the Danes escaped with victory against a Peru side that outplayed them for long periods. Even Christian Eriksen was uncharacteristically sloppy in possession, although it was his pass which eventually set up Yussuf Poulsen’s winner. Their draw with Australia saw Denmark concede a contentious penalty after Eriksen's fine strike, but 1-1 was a fair outcome for a middling Danish team.
Let's give them points for character, at least. Germany were carved open alarmingly by Mexico and Sweden – the last time FFT saw them defend this badly, Emile Heskey was doing his golf putt celebration – and Jogi Low's side look nothing like the supreme side they were four years ago. Yet it was a valiant fightback against Sweden with Toni Kroos impressively thundering in that strike made all the more difficult by what we must assume are his watermelon-sized balls.
So close. The Swedes' 1-0 win against a lame South Korea was completely forgettable, yet they showed in their qualification games that they can raise their performances against the bigger sides - and did so by so nearly pulling off that upset against Germany. There was a 1-0 lead, a red card for Jerome Boateng, chances for Sweden - but ultimately a 2-1 defeat thanks to that Kroos missile that leaves the Swedes facing a tricky task to qualify. Harsh.
Terrific stuff from a noble Iran side who were rather fortunate in that 1-0 upset win over Morocco (they didn't have a shot at goal in the second half, with Aziz Bouhaddouz’s 95th-minute own goal settling matters). Yet being edged out 1-0 by Spain with chances to equalise coming late in the second half was a wonderful performance. No Iran player has actually scored yet, but that doesn't detract from their terrific effort.
Nice of Nigeria to turn up for the second game, having slept through a 2-0 defeat to a 2-0 defeat to a Croatia side that never had to play close to their best to beat the Super Eagles. Yet Ahmed Musa suddenly channelled his inner O Fenomeno Ronaldo in the second half against Iceland, scoring two fantastic goals and rattling the bar as Nigeria won 2-0. It's one bad display, one good performance for Nigeria – but manager Gernot Rohr can also take credit for his changes from game one.
A 1-0 win over Costa Rica was hardly dazzling, but Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick was a beauty to give Serbia maximum points in their opener. Then there was the game against Switzerland which started so well with Aleksandar Mitrovic's opener, yet ended with Xherdan Shaqiri catching Serbia pressing far too high and inflicting defeat. Now they will almost certainly need to beat Brazil to escape Group E.
Alfred Finnbogason’s equaliser, Leo Messi's penalty miss and Iceland's stout defending made for a superb point against Argentina. However, Iceland found Musa trickier than Messi as they went down to a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria, the usually-reliable Gylfi Sigurdsson skying a second-half penalty. At least Iceland still have a chance of qualifying going into their final match with high-flying Croatia.
This is not a vintage Socceroos side, but it's one with plenty of fight. Despite being the first round’s biggest bookies’ underdog for their clash with France, Australia put up a fight. Mile Jedinak slotted home a penalty to level the score and there was a big slice of luck about France’s second-half winner. Australia converted another spot-kick in a 1-1 draw with Denmark, and while this side's fate is no longer in their hands, the dream of Australia making an unlikely run to the final based entirely on Jedinak penalties lives on.
So unlucky to lose both of their matches, but Peru showcased the cutting edge of a wooden spoon in their 1-0 losses to Denmark and France. The game against the former was particularly galling, with Christian Cueva doing his best Chris Waddle/Roberto Baggio tribute act as he blazed a penalty over the bar. Peru played some slick football and their travelling support was superb, but they simply couldn't get on the scoresheet and are heading home.
For Morocco, see Peru. On balance of play, they should have taken something from their games against Iran and Portugal. Instead they had to suffer two 1-0 losses - self-inflicted against Iran; Cristiano Ronaldo-inflicted versus Portugal. We're not sure which is more painful to bear. Some have campaigned for an unofficial extra World Cup game between unlucky Peru and Morocco, but we're convinced that somehow both sides would contrive to lose it 1-0.
In the draw with Iceland, Argentina tried to find Leo Messi so often that it became predictably simple for their obdurate opponents. So they cunningly reversed that against Croatia by hardly ever passing to him. Genius. The resulting 3-0 loss has left manager Jorge Sampaoli needing to rejig his hapless Argentina side for a must-win game against Nigeria. At least he has a "furious and upset" Diego Maradona offering to do a team talk for him. What could possibly go wrong?
26. Costa Rica
Another side that can join Peru and Morocco on the list of feeling unlucky to have no points from two games, but Los Ticos never looked up to the standard of their 2014 quarter-final side. Holding Brazil to 0-0 in injury time before conceding two late goals was impressive, but the Costa Ricans lacked an attacking threat in that match and the first against Serbia, and are heading home.
27. South Korea
South Korea weren't humiliated in either their 1-0 loss to Sweden or their 2-1 defeat to Mexico, but they really never got started in either match. The Sweden clash was a total nonentity, but South Korea at least attacked against Mexico – then deservedly lost despite Son Heung-min's late consolation. A forgettable tournament, we're afraid to say.
It’s not the Pharaohs’ fault that their one outstanding player had to kick his heels on the bench against Uruguay. Yet their opponents leaving it so late to score a winner disguised how poor this side looked without Mo Salah. Russia were more clinical in a 3-1 win where the only bright spot was Salah's superbly struck penalty which gave him the World Cup goal he deserves – after he did so brilliantly to get this team there.
Well, they're better than Panama. Probably. We'll find out in that match which absolutely nobody is calling the most-anticipated dead-rubber ever. The Tunisians rode their luck against England but defended well in the second half to go within minutes of snatching an unlikely point. They fell apart quicker under Belgium's potent attackers but at least scored twice in that 5-2 defeat, with Wahbi Khazri reminding us that he really can play a bit.
Easily the worst European side and the poorest group seeds at the World Cup, which is a title everyone thought Russia had sewn-up pre-tournament. Poland cunningly played very few friendlies to climb the FIFA rankings, yet they looked abject in these competitive matches. They lost 2-1 in an error-strewn display against Senegal, then were deservedly beaten 3-0 by Colombia. Poland have some good players – and boast one of the world's best strikers - so there was no reason for them to look this abject.
31. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia broke out their full circus act in the World Cup opener. Players collapsed in their own box, slid out of the way of Russian attackers and we’re pretty sure goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf is still running across his goalline now trying to keep out the late free-kick that made it 5-0. They redeemed themselves a bit by 'only' losing 1-0 to Uruguay, but never looked like getting anything from that game.
As an audition for next year's WrestleMania 35, Panama's 6-1 loss to England went superbly. Our particular highlight was Armando Cooper laying Harry Maguire on a table and doing a flying elbow drop on the prostrate Leicester centre-back. As a football team, however, Panama look less convincing. At least they frustrated Belgium in the first half, but since then they've conceded nine goals, scored one and tried to beat up everybody. Not ideal.
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