Football fans are just a touch romantic, and each World Cup year provides a new chapter in some decades-old narratives. In 2018, we’ve been blessed with some compelling plot points: will Brazil finally shake off the humiliation of their 2014 World Cup loss against Germany? Will Die Mannschaft lift the trophy twice in a row? Or will Argentina finally live up to the standard set by the talismanic Lionel Messi to claim ultimate glory?
But the first round of Group Stage matches may have cut those stories off a few chapters short, thanks to Switzerland, Mexico, and the tiny nation of Iceland.
This morning’s Group E match between heavyweights Brazil and Switzerland ended in a 1-1 tie, after Philippe Coutinho‘s first-half banger was answered by Steven Zuber in the second.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 17, 2018
That match was preceded by an even more unlikely scoreline: Germany 0-1 Mexico. The Group F match saw the reigning champions overcome by Mexico’s swift counterattacks, which pierced their defence in the 35th minute with Hirving “Chucky” Lozano‘s rapid goal.
And yesterday, Iceland – a nation of 335,000 people – earned their first-ever World Cup point by holding Argentina to a 1-1 draw. Sergio Agüero netted once before Icelandic striker Alfreð Finnbogason equalised.
Messi even fired from the penalty spot, but his feeble attempt was blocked by Hannes Halldórsson
Messi has missed a penalty and the score remains all square.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 16, 2018
To put this further into perspective: Messi is a global superstar, and is widely hailed as the most talented player of all time. Halldórsson has a day job as a film director.
Of course, there’s every chance Brazil, Germany, and Argentina will muscle out of the Group Stages and surge into the knockouts. After all, 2010 champions Spain lost their first Group Stage match to Switzerland 0-1.
But goddamn, if these results haven’t just injected a little bit of excitement into a preliminary stage that many saw as preordained. How good is football?