World Cup day 8: Drama arose in Group E and F

This year’s World Cup is full of dramas and upsets. If any day can sum up this year’s World Cup, it is day eight. The battle of giants, underdog magic, and blow-out made this gameday one to remember.

Costa Rica shocked Japan.

World Cup Costa Rica is back
Keysher Fuller celebrating the winning goal for Costa Rica. Photo Credit: NDTV Sports

No one expected Costa Rica to go far, especially after the way they were given a beating against Spain. Meanwhile, Japan showed its Samurai spirit en route to its victory against Germany. 

Coach Moriyasu started Ritsu Doan, who leveled the score against Germany. But the likes of Mitoma or Minamino remained wildcard options on the bench. Although Japan was the favorite, Costa Rica approached the game better. 58% possession in the first half for Costa Rica didn’t return much to show. Both teams went to the half without a shot on target.

The second half was a different story. Japan put on Takuma Asano and Hiroki Ito and began their attacking strategy, pushing Costa Rica back on defense. Eleven shots from the Blue Samurai put Keylor Navas in trouble every time. With too many attacks without any results, the Japanese had to pay for their lack of composure. Keysher Fuller drew a marvelous rainbow inside of Al Rayyan. Not much Gonda could do, and 1-0 for Costa Rica by their first shot on target of the game. No choice for Japan but to keep pressuring, but it was all valiant effort as the match ended without any more goals.

World Cup – Morocco upset Belgium 

A tough game for Belgium against Morocco. Photo Credit: Sporting News

Belgium narrowly escaped the first match versus Canada with a win. They could have gone home empty-handed if Canada had been more composed in their 21 shots. A challenging game ahead against Morocco was a pre-warning when Morocco played phenomenally to force a tie in the first game against Croatia.

The Red Devils started Andre Onana, a lengthy central midfielder. Belgium would try to utilize his size and strength in set-piece plays. Meanwhile, The Atlas Lions opted for a counter-attacking strategy. Belgium’s game plan almost paid off. Plenty of chances were created towards Onana’s head. But the most significant play in the first half belonged to Morocco. A freekick by Hakim Ziyech from near the corner headed straight into the goal, but captain Romain Saiss was marked offside when he tried to hinder Courtois’ vision.

The second half saw Belgium turning into their first-game self. Walking, walking, and walking: Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel, and even Kevin de Bruyne barely ran anymore. Meanwhile, Michy Batshuayi made ill-advised runs and terrible decision-making, causing every chance to go to waste. 

The difference between Morocco and Belgium in this game came from the substitution. Sabiri, from the same spot, opposite side as the freekick that almost went in in the first half, curled this ball past Courtois. Once again, Saiss was blocking the goalie’s vision. And in stoppage time, Hakim Ziyech finished his incredible performance with an assist to Zakaria Aboukhlal, another substitution. An astounding 2-0 victory makes the advancing probability of Morocco as high as ever. World Cup is magical!

World Cup – Germany and Spain shared a point

A marvelous battle of tactics. Photo Credit: The New York Times

The most highly anticipated match of the day between two giants of the footballing world. Their first match-up in the World Cup since the semifinals in South Africa, when Carles Puyol’s header sent the Germans home. 

Spain dominated the possession game right off the bat. Luis Enrique proved to the critics that his conservative player choices benefited the team. Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio, and even Ferran Torres are never first-team options in their respective clubs, but their football suits Enrique’s strategy. The midfield, led by Pedri, took great care of the ball. Must say, the trio of Kimmich, Goretzka, and Gundogan of Germany has never worked flawlessly. And it showed when Germany couldn’t win possession. However, the Germans had the first big moment of the game. A Kimmich freekick found a wide-open Antonio Rudiger, who headed the ball in, but the goal was ruled offside.

Enrique decided to use his number 9 in the second half in Alvaro Morata. And just minutes since he appeared, Jordi Alba put a great ball on the plate for the Spanish striker, who flicked the ball past Neuer to open the score. That goal highlighted two of Germany’s weakest positions in RB with Thilo Kehrer and RCB with Niklas Sule. 

Hansi Flick decided to pull a trick of his own. He put on his own number 9 in Niclas Fullkrug and a chance initiator in Leroy Sane. This was when Germany started to play better. Sane, with a through-ball, set up Musiala for a one-on-one, but he missed the sitter. Just minutes later, Germany reran the same play for Musiala, but this time the youngster became a wall for Fullkrug to take the ball and put it in the top corner. A touch of selfishness needed from a striker when he took the ball away from Musiala proved correct. 

Two goals and a fantastic clash of tactics from two coaches of the most recent treble-winning teams. Spain has a great chance to further advance. And for Germany, we still have a lot to fix. But permanently putting Fullkrug in the striker position, better usage of Sane and Musiala, and improving the right-back position are much needed.

Read the article below for exclusive coverage of Canada versus Croatia.

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