Saturday, July 21, 2018

The World Cup is always a source of entertainment and magical moments, and this year’s tournament has not let us down. With the group stage entering its last days I would like to recap some of the bigger stories that have developed over the course of this competition.

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Argentina Grasping For Straws

Do you remember the first time you started for your high school or travel team? Do you remember the nerves, the pressure of knowing that this is your one shot to prove you deserve to be in the starting lineup? Well, Franco Armani might have a tip for you on how to handle those nerves. Never heard of him? Well, that might be because the 31-year old made his FIRST international start in goal for Argentina in their game against Nigeria. In the third game of the group stage. In a group where every team still has a chance to qualify. There is no bigger stage to step out on to than the largest sporting competition in the world, in a do or die situation, for one of the greatest soccer nations in the world.

I am happy to report that Armani had an excellent début, only conceding one goal via PK and, helped out by a magical Messi moment and an excellent late strike by defender Marcos Rojo, allowed Argentina to advance to the group stage where they will face France in their first game.

Good luck Argentina, you’ll need it.

European Giants Advance, Barely

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If you’re looking for last minute drama then there is no better place than the final day of matches in Group B. The group consists of Spain, Portugal, Iran, and Morocco. At first glance, this group looks like a gift from above for Spain and Portugal. Portugal is the reigning EUFA Euro champions, and Spain are just a dominant force in the world of soccer, with many of the best players of our time on their roster. Which is exactly why Spain does not deserve to be advancing to the knockout stage.

Not to discredit the Morocco or Iran, who both played their hearts out, but with the exception of the incredible 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal, Spain has looked, uninspired. Errant passes, simple communications mix-ups, and a goalie who has been all but invisible are the things that have defined this Spain run so far, which is far from the norm for the European giant.

Portugal, however, has looked quite strong, with most of their goals coming, as expected, from their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and some skillful moves from Ricardo Quaresma who is not getting the play time he deserves.

Never fear, the World Cup is only just getting started, and there will be plenty more stories to come. Feel free to leave a comment with your pick for this tournament’s champion.

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