Germany players celebrate winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup by Agência Brasil is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil license.

Yesterday drew to a close a fascinating first round of group stage matches, and began the second round with the day culminating in Egypts almost certain elimination from the competition.

No doubt the billion dollar lawsuit will be back onto the table as Salah and co exit the competition.

First questions first. What happened to the favourites?

France scraped over the line with a late winner, but the Brazilians, Spanish, Germans, and Argentine’s all struggled to click in the first round of matches. Spain scored three, but defensively looked frail, Germany’s defence was a constant calamity of errors and a 1-0 loss was a flattering result, and Brazil and Argentina failed to produce the football that the gulf of attacking talent at their disposal promised.

In many ways this has been a huge positive for the competition, it shows that countries are positively progressing. Systems have been implemented and the players, even those not plying their trade at the highest level, know their jobs and stick to them with diligence.

Iceland, who were let off the hook when a Messi penalty was saved at 1-1, proved that their performaces at the Euro’s was no flash in the pan. They wore down at the end, but to take a point from Argentina will give them a huge belief that they can get out of the groups.

Argentina were not the only attacking threat to be stemmed by a solid structure, Brazil were thwarted by a stubborn defence, which only a moment of genius by Coutinho could breakdown. It’s also worth noting what an outstanding game Behrami had, he stuck to his job of keeping Neymar out of the game with efficiency, and a look of enjoyment at having the worlds most expensive player in his pocket. Brazil were reduced to constantly hitting the ground under any contact to push their way up the pitch, but Switzerland held on for a very credible draw against the favourites.

Spain should have held on for the 3 points, but Ronaldo would put in the individual performance of the tournament to steal a point, and the headlines. Spain didn’t create as you would expect, a superb bullying performance by Costa kept Spain in it before Nacho smashed them ahead, only to be denied at the end.

Ronaldo putting in a performance to highlight just how much of a one man team Portugal are, won the penalty which he scored, and won the free-kick which he then scored from, as well as scoring the second from a break of play.

Germany, what the hell happened to Germany?

All the fluidity. calm, and capability we’ve associated with them since they brought through the likes of Muller and Ozil in 2010 fell by the wayside as Mexico carved them apart constantly. Nobody seemed to know their role, and the experience of Hummels and Boateng seemed completely foreign. Hummels was absolutely sold on the half way line for Mexicos winner, and if Vela had been more decisive in his final ball they could have truly humiliated the World Champions.

France as well were extremely poor. A lucky goal from Pogba, who didn’t look confident that it had crossed the line just about got them the 3 points against Australia. The French media say it’s a team that blows hot and cold, they have all the depth of talent to dismantle teams with ease, but whether they can remains to be seen.

The Shocks:

Russia! Russia are going through to knock-out stage. Billed at the start of the tournament as complete no hopers, with their own press brandishing them as the worst Russian team ever, they have put 8 goals past Saudi Arabia and Egypt and confirmed their place in the last 16.

A favourable opening against Saudi Arabia, but it looked to be going south when Dzagoev was taken off early in the first half, but what an impact Cheryshev has made since coming on for him. Three goals, and an assist since Dzagoev left the pitch with tears in his eyes, and the opportunity has been seized.

Should they have opened against Uruguay it may have been a different story, but Russia are running on momentum, and it’s interesting to see how far they can go.

Iran sneaking a last minute win against Morocco was a fantastic result, and what a story it would be if they were able to ease Spain or Portugal out of the competition in the group stages. Still highly unlikely, but imagine.

Group H threw up two huge surprises yesterday with Japan beating Colombia, and Senegal beating Poland. Colombia down to 10 men after 4 mintues, with the World Cups first red card, had it all to do, but in the end the Japanese took the chance and got a hugely unexpected 3 points.

Senegal have a strong squad, and there was a chance they could get through the group, but it was a surprise that they saw off Poland. It leaves Senegal in an extremely strong position, and they should see their way into the last 16.

England:

What a wonderful half hour it was. The football was fast, the movement was fluid, the finishing was frustrating. England could have been running away with it in the first half hour, but the Tunisia penalty to level things up really took the pace out of the game.

Disputable penalty decisions also looked they were playing on their psyche as well, for long periods of a game they were frustrated at the decisions being given, and not being given, and Tunisia persistent hitting the ground for free-kicks.

It looked like it was going to be same old England, but up popped Kane in the 92nd minute to steal a deserved victory, and give England a huge confidence boost going into Sundays game V Panama.

To the competitions first exit:

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