32 matches, two group stage rounds, and yet we are still almost as we were just before the Qatar World Cup began. Before a ball was kicked, this edition was tagged “unique.” Now, more than a week later, it holds true.
Only three teams have qualified for the knockout stages: France, Brazil, and Portugal. This only shows how competitive this tournament has been. There have been no gifted points; every single one intensely worked for. Only the host nation, Qatar, have been mathematically eliminated so far.
Arise, Africa! Believe because it is possible. Four years ago, no African side progressed from the group stages. Egypt finished with no points, Morocco managed just one, Nigeria and Tunisia three, and Senegal four. And yes, the Teranga Lions could have advanced but for a poorer disciplinary record to the benefit of Japan.
And yet, after two rounds of matches, the continent’s chances are higher than they were in 2018. Senegal have three points, Tunisia have one, Morocco four, Ghana three, and Ghana three. Even more interesting is the manner of the wins. Morocco defeated the second-best nation in the world, and the Black Stars showed resilience against South Korea.
From today, more teams will secure their Round of 16 spots as we enter the final set of matches of this stage. Hence, there is a lot of excitement and drama in store for Groups A–D.
Review Of Group Stage Round 2
Senegal earned a convincing 3-1 win against Qatar to give themselves a fighting chance for the next stage. Cody Gakpo and Enner Valencia both scored as the Netherlands and Ecuador settled for a 1-1 draw.
In Group B, Iran scored two late goals to defeat Wales, who had to play with a man down for 10 minutes. There was little to separate England and the USA as they played out a goalless draw.
Robert Lewandowski scored his first-ever World Cup goal in Poland’s 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia. Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a low finish from outside the box as Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 in Group C.
Kylian Mbappe scored both goals as France overcame a stubborn Denmark side 2-1. Australia did just enough to defeat Tunisia 1-0 in Group D.
In Group E, Costa Rica earned a surprising 1-0 win against Japan thanks to a late Keysher Fuller goal. Spain and Germany gave everything in an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Croatia made light work of Canada 4-1, as Morocco defeated Belgium 2-0 in Group F.
Cameroon came from 3-1 down to earn a point against Serbia thanks to Vincent Aboubakar. Casemerio sent his Brazil side to the knockout rounds with a fine finish against a well-drilled Switzerland team in Group G.
Ghana earned an impressive 3-2 win against South Korea courtesy of a brace from Mohamed Kudus. Bruno Fernandes guaranteed a second stage for Portugal with two goals against Uruguay.
Preview Of The Group Stage Round 3 (A-D)
The matches for each group will take place simultaneously.
Ecuador and Senegal will go head-to-head for a chance to progress. A draw will suffice for the South Americans, who have garnered four points. However, Senegal must win outright to move on to the next stage. Aliou Cissé’s men have their fate in their hands. Ismaila Sarr and Boulaye will need to hit the ground running.
The Netherlands have a relatively easy job against Qatar, who are out of contention for a place. Gakpo has been exciting in the opening two matches for the Orange Boys. The forward will be confident about adding to his tally.
In Group B, Iran need just one point to progress when they face the United States. Gregg Berhalter’s team need a win to progress.
Wales face a tough test against England in the race for qualification. The Three Lions, on the other hand, will be desperate to get back to winning ways after a lacklustre performance against the USA in the previous match.
Second-round tickets from Group C are entirely up for grabs. Poland will face their biggest test against Argentina, who will be desperate for all the points. Messi and Lautaro Martinez will go head-to-head against Robert Lewandowski.
Saudi Arabia will be confident when they battle Mexico. Since nothing is totally settled in this group, the goal for both teams will be three points.
Ecuador vs Senegal (over 1.5 goals)
Netherlands vs Qatar (1)
Iran vs USA (goal/goal)
Wales vs England (under 3.5 goals)
Tunisia vs France (over 2.5 goals)
Australia vs Denmark (over 1.5 goals)
Poland vs Argentina (2)
Saudi Arabia vs Mexico (over 1.5 goals)