Groups D and E had decisive games in this second game week. Teams got important wins and made the scenario look even more competitive. We also saw plenty of drama, skill and beautiful goals as we approach the end of the group stage.

In Short

  • In the early match, Brazil got their first win of the 2018 World Cup. It was breathtaking, dramatic and polemic, but the 5-time champions managed to finally get going after a lacklustre draw against Switzerland in game 1. Philippe Coutinho put the whole country in euphoria in the first minute of added time, with Neymar adding a second with a minute to spare.
  • Neymar dominated the talking points of this game. The winger was chased by the Costa Rica defenders, being constantly fouled. A call on the penalty, which was denied by VAR, added even more words to the argument against him and his reputation for diving.
  • The win gives Brazil some momentum, which they will need when they face Serbia in the last group game on the 27th. Costa Rica are knocked out of tournament after the defeat, having not been able to replicate their quarter-final run in 2014.
  • Brazil manager Tite reportedly injured his leg after being pushed by Ederson during the goal celebrations. Tite fell to the ground and was not able to celebrate together with his squad, although he was pretty happy to see his team winning the game.
  • Ahmed Musa’s brace got Nigeria their first win in this World Cup. The result puts Argentina under even more pressure after their shambolic defeat to Croatia on Thursday. Messi and his teammates need to win against Nigeria and hope that Croatia beat Iceland.
  • Iceland’s performance was totally the opposite from their draw against Argentina in GW1. Despite starting the game well, Iceland did not manage to keep the tempo up and fell to a pretty organized Nigeria side. Sigurðsson’s wide penalty summed up their bad day at the office.
  • Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri decided the game, scoring the winning goal on the 89th minute against Serbia. Despite scoring the vital goal, Shaqiri’s contribution throughout the game was marvellous, showing great footwork and creativity.

Takeaways

  • Brazil have their future in their hands. A win against Serbia on the last group game would mean they win the group. Today’s performance was a lot better from the Switzerland game, but what Tite would like to see is improvement.
  • Roberto Firmino should be the starter upfront moving forward. Played a little over than 20 minutes and managed to have a big impact in the game, nearly scoring a goal in added time. Helped to create the opener and had an important deflection leading to the second goal.
  • Nigeria’s organization got them the win. Their next and final group game against Argentina will be key. With their South American opponents low on confidence and with their manager’s future on the balance, the Super Eagles could take advantage of Argentina’s mentality and qualify to the round of 16.
  • Iceland will certainly have to improve if they want to have a chance to beat Croatia. Improving from their performance against Nigeria is a must and they’ll have to work hard for a win and a chance to qualify.
  • Switzerland also have their future in their hands. Despite being down after the first-half, they showed strong reserve to come back and win the game. The team also showed they can rely on their individual talent, which will be a really positive sign for manager Vladimir Petkovic.
  • Serbia, on the other hand, could’ve been given a penalty if VAR was used. However, the talking point was their lack of concentration in the second-half, which allowed Switzerland to take the lead. A pretty good first-half was shadowed by an average and ineffective second period.

Goal of the day

In terms of beauty, surely Granit Xhaka’s strike was the best goal. The Arsenal midfielder took a chance Shaqiri’s shot was deflected and went for it, hitting the ball perfectly and placing the ball in the right corner.

However, in terms of importance, Coutinho’s goal was the goal of the day. Brazil are one of the biggest favourites and another draw would see their chances to win the 6th become smaller. Cometh the man, cometh the hour, Coutinho was in the right place at the right time. Marcelo put the cross in the area, Firmino did well to head the ball into the box and Gabriel Jesus protected the ball for the bursting Coutinho, who scored between Navas’ legs.