Mon 25 Jun 2018, 09:53
Every team at the 2018 World Cup has played at least two matches, so we assess the quality of the tournament thus far, review the star players, and look at some standout results from Matchdays 1 and 2.
Russian tournament is one to savour
A key metric for how entertaining a World Cup is the average goals scored per match. Although the tournament hosted by South Africa in 2010 stands out for its colour and for being the first on the African continent, a mere 2.23 goals were scored on average. This was the worst since Italia 1990, which clocked an average of 2.21. The 2014 World Cup average was 2.70 and Russia, after two matchdays, is averaging an excellent 2.65 goals per match.
Golden Boot competition heats up
Harry Kane’s hat-trick in England’s demolition job of Panama means he tops the scoring charts with five goals from two matches. Romelu Lukaku, whose Belgian side take on England in Matchday 3 in a shootout for the top spot in the group, has four goals, along with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Home hero Denis Cheryshev has three, level with Spanish hitman Diego Costa. With all of these players heading into the second round and some facing weaker opposition, keep an eye on them as they’re likely to continue to lead the way in the charts.
Senegal and Nigeria stand tall
It took five matches for the African contingent to notch up a win. Senegal broke the duck with an impressive win over Poland, and Nigeria followed by grabbing three points against Iceland. Senegal then drew against Japan and need a result against Colombia to secure progression, while the Super Eagles can qualify for the second round if they best Lionel Messi’s underperforming Argentina, though a draw may be sufficient.
Big hitters do it the hard way
Brazil left it late to beat Costa Rica 2-0, and the five-time winners have found it difficult to click. Neymar has been criticised for diving and for trying to do too much on his own. Nonetheless, a draw against Serbia will be enough for a team that – bar France – has the most individual talent available. Germany, meanwhile, had to fight back from a goal down to defeat Sweden. The champions are well placed to qualify, but Joachim Loew’s men have looked disjointed on the pitch, amid rumours of discord off it.
Can Russia’s Denis Cheryshev add to his three goals at the tournament and put pressure on Harry Kane at the top of the scoring charts?
Stream the host nation’s final group-stage match against Uruguay at 16:00 today (25 June) on SuperSport on DStv Now on your mobile, tablet or laptop. And if you missed Germany’s comeback or Nigeria’s victory, check out the eight-minute highlights packages of the weekend’s action on Catch Up.
DStv Premium, Compact and Compact Plus subscribers: watch every World Cup game on SuperSport through the DStv Now app on your mobile, tablet or your laptop.