Day 5 Review: Tunisia Kaned, Belgium Cruise and more VAR
For England their opening game was about more than 3 points- the ghost of tournament failures gone by were only ever going to be exorcised by winning and England did that, just. England started at a blistering pace, repeatedly carving open Tunisia to earn an early lead through Harry Kane’s close range finish. But Tunisia were resolute and won a debatable penalty- verified by VAR after 35 minutes to halt England’s progress and head in to half-time level. The VAR rows continued as Kane was hauled down twice from England corners but the mould went unnoticed by VAR and England laboured for a winner. But a winner they did find when Kane headed home Kieran Trippier’s corner via Harry Maguire’s flick in injury time.
In the same group Panama were given a harsh lesson by a high-class Belgium side. Panama held out for an hour but Belgium’s superstars had too much- Dries Martens opened the scoring with a brilliant volley before Kevin De Bruyne beautiful picked out Romelu Lukaku for the second and Lukaku was on the end of a quick counter attack to secure a comfortable 3-0 win.
The early kick off saw Sweden & South Korea play a must win opening game in the Germany/ Mexico group. Must win because they both will face a Germany side that cannot afford another slip-up. Sweden looked the stronger from the outset and a neat move played Marcus Berg through on goal only to be denied by a stunning save from the excellent Cho Hyun-woo. As the game progressed VAR intervened again to award Sweden a penalty when Viktor Claesson was hacked down in the box and skipper Andreas Granqvist converted from the spot.
Day 6 Preview
The final group of the tournament gets under way this afternoon with Colombia taking on Japan and Poland facing Senegal. Whilst match day 2 kicks off with hosts Russia this evening.
Japan vs Colombia
Colombia were the most exciting side of Brazil 2014 and arrive at this World Cup with a revitalised Radamel Falcao leading the attack whilst James Rodriguez will be looking to put a disappointing club spell behind him. Japan will fancy their chances and their quick passing game and tight defence anchored by Makoto Hasebe whilst Shinji Kagawa is an inventive player who can conjure up the openings. I expect a high tempo attacking game and plenty of goals.
Prediction: Japan 2-2 Colombia
Poland vs Senegal
Another game between teams who attack better than they defend. Poland rely on uber number 9 Robert Lewandowski, the Bayern Munich striker is the main man and the side is built around him with winger Jakub Blazczykowski the creator in chief. Senegal also have a potent attack lead by Liverpool’s in-form Sadio Mane and Monaco winger Balde Keita but again the defence isn’t the tightest. I expect goals galore here and I think Lewandowski will get the winner.
Prediction: Poland 3-2 Senegal
Russia vs Egypt
Russia started with that 5-0 hammering of Saudi Arabia and played with far more attacking invention than expected. Egypt suffered late heartbreak against Uruguay on Saturday but now have Mo Salah back to lead the attack. Have fit Salah really is remains dubious but his presence gives Russia a different puzzle to solve and Egypt’s tight defence will be far harder to crack than Saudi Arabia’s proved. This will be a tight tense match and could well end in stalemate.
Prediction: Russia 1-1 Egypt