World Cup Group Stage Madness
The group stage has officially come to a close in the world’s biggest tournament, and it was packed with upsets, drama, and stressful qualifying implications for the knockout stage. Moments such as Saudi Arabia upsetting Argentina in the group opener and the crazy Cameroon versus Serbia game is why the world loves this tournament.
It also makes it hard for the casual fan to keep with all the action happening at once, so let's take a deep breath, and recap the groups which provided us with the most madness:
Group C Results
4 .Saudi Arabia
Heading into the final group games, every team in Group C had a shot at the knockout stage which set the stage for incredible drama. Argentina won comfortably against Poland 2-0 despite Lionel Messi missing a penalty early in the game.
However, the real madness came in the Saudi Arabia vs Mexico game, Saudi Arabia just had to win this game in order to qualify for the knockouts, but Mexico had to win by three and have Argentina beat Poland to make it through.
Mexico went up 2-0 on Saudi Arabia which meant the only thing that separated them from making the knockout stage was “fair play,” meaning that Poland having less yellow cards put them up over Mexico in the standings for the time being.
Here’s the kicker though, Mexico thought they got its third goal on two separate occasions but they were both ruled offside, which meant Poland qualified off of having fewer yellow cards. Madness.
Argentina is set to play Australia and Poland is set to play France in the first round of the knockout stages.
Group E Results
4 .Costa Rica
Very few people other than the Japanese believed that Japan would come out victorious in a group that featured European heavyweights Spain and Germany, but they found a way.
However, there was one point during the last set of Group E games where Japan and Costa Rica were set to qualify over Spain and Germany, so here’s what happened:
Costa Rica was playing Germany and Spain was playing Japan. Japan went up on Spain 2-1 in the 2nd half and Costa Rica went up on Germany 2-1 almost simultaneously and for three very brief, very crazy minutes, the Japanese and Costa Ricans were set to send the Germans and the Spaniards packing.
However, Deutschland helped their friends in Spain with Kai Havertz scoring two goals within 10 minutes and Nicolas Füllkrug adding another goal late in the 89th minute to send Costa Rica home. So although Spain lost against Japan 2-1, they still managed to stay alive.
Japan meets Croatia and Spain faces off against their Mediterranean rivals Morocco in the first round of the knockout stages.
Group F Results
Morocco upsetting Belgium was the surprise of the tournament, but Le Maroc also topping the group completely unexpected by even the most die-hard Morrocans.
Equally as unexpected was the embarrassment that Romelu Lukaku and Belgium put on against Croatia which cost them a spot in the knockout stages. Lukaku badly missed five point blank shots in front of goal which cost them the game.
This is the soccer equivalent to a wide-receiver dropping not one, not two, but FIVE wide open passes in the end-zone. It was an all around embarrassing performance from the Inter Milan striker.
On the flip side, the defending World Cup finalists, Croatia, did its part in dispatching the Belgians and securing their spot in the knockout stages.
As mentioned before, Croatia is set to meet Japan and the Morrocans face their noisy Mediterranean neighbors in Spain.
Shiv Nagpaul is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. In order to contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.