World Cup Notebook: Chapter One

We made it, boys and girls. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is off and running. Your bosses might as well embrace the fact that there will be zero productivity over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully they’re right with you streaming the games in their offices.

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Here’s some thoughts on what we’ve seen so far.

Better than MJ?:  Not even tax evasion and a Spanish national team unbeaten in now 20-straight contests could stop Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s effortless free kick secured him a hat trick and allowed his Portugal side to split a point with Spain, who looked more like 2010 Spain instead of 2014 Spain. It actually seemed like the Spanish were surely going to take all three points after the Nacho goal and their mesmerizing passing until Ronaldo’s free kick put everything level.

Let’s also take a moment to appreciate this crisp Nacho goal, by the way.

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Now, the question is, can Ronaldo continue to do this and carry his country on his back for two more games and beyond? You’d certainly fancy them against Morocco and Iran moving forward.

Your move, Messi.

From Russia with five: The host’s five-goal performance in the opening day against Saudi Arabia does put the Russians in a great position early in Group A, but I wouldn’t read into it too much. This Russian side is still vastly inexperienced (15 of the 23 players on the squad have 20 or less international caps to their name), and they took advantage of a pretty sloppy Saudi team.

But let’s not be distracted from the best memes this game produced courtesy of Vladimir Putin.

No Salah, Mo problems: If Egypt’s Mo Salah is “fit,” WHY WOULDN’T YOU PLAY HIM?? Look, maybe the belief  in the Egypt camp is to try and collect a point from a Uruguay side who were favored on paper, and just save Salah for the other games where three points are much more attainable.

However, Egypt were fantastic defensively and had frustrated Luis Suarez and company throughout the match. Perhaps bringing on Salah in 65th or 70th minute gives the side an extra boost towards three points, giving them a huge advantage heading into the next match.

Instead, the Pharoahs elected to absorb more and more pressure, giving up a couple of really bad fouls near the edge of their box in the dying moments.

One of those fouls cost them.

MorocNO: I was going to skip over this game, but then this happened. It’s been a bad week for Morocco.

Anyways, the first two full days of games have concluded, with a full slate coming Saturday morning starting bright and early at 5 a.m central time. Start brewing your coffee.

 

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