The FIFA World Cup 2018 group stage has just ended. There were many favourites that were expected to be in the top 16 but did not make it, with some unexpected teams qualifying instead.
As we wait for the knockout matches to begin, here’s a brief look at what happened in the World Cup 2018 group stage matches.
Fair Play In The Picture
Group H saw Japan benefit from the newest rule in the FIFA World Cup. This year, for the first time in World Cup history, fair play was included as a deciding factor at the group stage.
Having lost to Poland in their final group stage match, they advanced to the top 16 despite being tied with Senegal on all other criteria. This happened because Japan had -4 fair play points, while Senegal had -6.
The two teams that advance to the round of 16 from Group H are Colombia, which finished top of the table, and Japan.
Group G saw Belgium top the table after defeating England in the final match, though both teams from the group qualified to reach the knock out stage. Tunisia and Panama were knocked out.
Belgium will now play Japan to set up a quarter final against either Brazil or Mexico, while England will face Columbia, the winner of which will play either Switzerland or Sweden in the quarter finals.
Defending Champions Crash Out
Perhaps the biggest shocker so far was the defending champion, Germany, being unable to secure a position in the top 16. In their last match, played against South Korea, they conceded two goals in injury time. They thus crashed out in the World Cup 2018 group stage.
South Korea too was knocked out, despite scoring a memorable win. It is Sweden and Mexico that advance to the top 16 from this group.
This is the first time since 1938 that Germany has been knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages itself. This was also the last World Cup for several stalwart German players, including Manuel Neuer and Sami Khedira.
Argentina Scrape Through
Group D saw a tense finish. With Argentina incurring a shocking loss to Iceland in its first group stage match, its chances of going through to the top 16 seemed slim.
However, winning by a narrow margin of one goal against Nigeria in the final match, while Iceland lost to Croatia, Argentina just scrambled through to the knockout stage. Croatia finished top of this table as the World Cup 2018 group stage matches ended.
Group B saw a photo finish, with both Spain v Morocco and Portugal v Iran going to a draw in the second half’s injury time in the final match. Spain and Portugal will both advance to the knockout stage now.
Group E saw Brazil and Switzerland qualify, while Serbia and Costa Rica were knocked out. France and Denmark advance to the round of 16 from group C, while Peru and Australia do not.
Group A will see Uruguay and Russia, the host nation’s team, advance, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt placing third and fourth in the group respectively.
King Kane Rules The Field
England’s Harry Kane has managed to score the most number of goals in this World Cup, reaching five and overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored only four despite a hat-trick in the first match.
Three teams in the group stages finished with 3 out of 3 wins— Uruguay, Croatia, and Belgium.
In the upcoming matches, Uruguay plays Portugal, the winner of which will play either Argentina or France. On the other hand, Spain will be playing the host team Russia, the winner of which will face either Croatia or Denmark.