World Cup Updates

A review of the latest performances and drama in soccer’s most prestigious tournament.

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Since the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador, this year’s World Cup has already proven to be a tournament filled with exciting storylines and dramatic upsets. Here is a recap, group by group, of what has happened so far:

Group A:

Netherlands: The Dutch started their campaign with a confident win against Senegal 2-0 in the first week. They were expected to carry the momentum forward with another win in their second match, but were held to a draw by a passionate Ecuador team. However, the “Oranje” won their final group match against host Qatar 2-0 and confidently topped Group A with seven points.

Senegal: Without star player Sadio Mané, Senegal suffered a tough loss to the Dutch in their first match, but managed to bounce back against a struggling Qatar side to secure a 3-1 win. The “Lions of Teranga” then went on to defeat Ecuador in their final game with a close 2-1 scoreline, qualifying for the knockout round in second place with six points.

Ecuador: After a convincing victory in their opener against host Qatar, captain Enner Valencia led the Ecuadorians to a hard-fought comeback against an impressive Netherlands to salvage a point in their second game, keeping things close at the top in Group A. Unfortunately, the South American team failed to step up in the crucial match against Senegal, as they were knocked out of the tournament, placing third in the group with four points.

Qatar: Things haven’t gone as planned for Qatar, as they became the first ever host nation to lose their opening match. A second loss to Senegal made Qatar the first team to be eliminated. The hosts suffered another defeat in their final game against the Netherlands, finishing a disappointing World Cup run at the bottom of the group with zero points and only one goal scored.

Group B:

England: A 6-2 win against Iran was a statement of intent from an explosive English side, who many consider to be one of their favorites for this year’s World Cup. However, the “Three Lions” couldn’t carry the momentum, as they labored to an uninspiring 0-0 tie against a motivated USA team. Still, England secured the top spot with a solid 3-0 showing against Wales, ending with seven points.

USA: A lot of excitement surrounded the USA’s participation in this year’s contest, but the Americans had to settle for a close 1-1 tie with Wales in their first match. However, the team put up a superb performance to rival an incredible English team for a 0-0 tie, where the Americans created lots of opportunities and were defensively solid. The squad faced Iran in their final must-win game, where a 1-0 win ensured qualification for the knockout stages with five points.

Iran: The Iranians bounced back from a loss to England as the squad reset its mentality and shocked Wales in their second game to win 2-0. Unfortunately, an impassioned Iran was unable to push on as they were knocked out by an impressive USA team in their final game. The Asian side finished third in the group with three points.

Wales: The Welsh made their first return to the World Cup in 60 years and managed to salvage a point against the Americans as captain Gareth Bale scored a late penalty in the 1-1 tie. However, the team experienced a serious setback with an unexpected defeat to Iran 0-2, followed up by a loss to England 0-3, ending their World Cup run at the bottom of Group B with one point.

The USA takes on Group A winner, the Netherlands, in the first round of 16 knockout matches. On the other side of the bracket, Group B leader England is set to face Senegal.

Group C:

Argentina: Argentine superstar and captain Lionel Messi’s fifth and last World Cup began with a shocking defeat to Saudi Arabia. However, the captain stepped up when the team needed him most with a stellar performance against Mexico in their second game, as his fantastic long-range effort contributed to the 2-0 victory for “La Albiceleste.” The Argentinian squad then won their final match against Poland 2-0, securing the top spot with six points and qualifying for the next round.

Poland: Talisman striker Robert Lewandowski’s penalty miss meant Poland had to settle for a goalless tie with Mexico, but he bounced back by scoring his first ever World Cup goal in the Poles’ 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. However, the team couldn’t keep up with an electrifying display from Argentina and lost their final game 0-2. Though they were level on points with third place Mexico, Poland qualified for the knockout rounds on a better goal differential.

Mexico: Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and team captain Andrés Guardado played their fifth World Cup as Mexico held Poland to a 0-0 tie in their opener. However, the Mexicans succumbed to an extraordinary Argentine performance in their next match, leaving it all up to their final game. When Mexico took a 2-0 lead in the second half, hope for knockout qualification was rekindled, but a late consolation goal from Saudi Arabia saw the North American side narrowly miss out on continuing their World Cup journey.

Saudi Arabia: The Asian team’s unforeseen, yet tactically perfect, comeback 2-1 victory over Argentina in their opening game stunned the soccer world. However, Saudi Arabia could not recreate similar heroics as they suffered a 0-2 loss to Poland and were defeated by Mexico 1-2. The “Green Falcons” finished last in their group with three points, with no chance of moving on in the tournament.

Group D:

France: Injuries to key players such as Karim Benzema days before the start of the tournament raised doubts about the champions’ title defense this year, but that proved to be no problem as France’s 4-1 demolition of Australia restored confidence. “Les Bleus” carried this momentum to their match against Denmark, where Kylian Mbappé inspired the French to a 2-1 victory. Despite an unanticipated loss to Tunisia 0-1, France still topped Group D with six points.

Australia: A crushing loss to France in the first match demoralized the Australians, not long before they bounced back against Tunisia in a 1-0 win. Another 1-0 victory in their final game, this time against Denmark, secured qualification into the knockout rounds with six points.

Tunisia: After a close 0-0 draw with Denmark, Tunisia suffered a defeat at the hands of Australia. Even after brilliantly defeating France 1-0 in their final game, the Tunisians unfortunately missed out on further qualification with four points.

Denmark: The Danes faced a difficult start to the World Cup after a goalless tie against Tunisia. They had to step up in the second game, but despite holding off a relentless French attack and keeping the score 0-0 until halftime, a Mbappé-inspired French victory meant the pressure was on in Denmark’s must-win game against Australia. However, the Danes failed to impress in a 0-1 loss and ended their tournament at the bottom of the group with only one point.

Group C winner Argentina takes on Australia in their knockout match while Group D leader France is set to face Poland.

Group E:

Japan: A day after Saudi Arabia beat Argentina in arguably the greatest upset of international soccer history, Japan announced itself to the world by unexpectedly disarming a powerful German side. Despite conceding early via a penalty, the Japanese dialed up their relentless tactics to convert two chances in the second half, ending the game 2-1 in their favor. Though the following result was an unexpected 0-1 loss to Costa Rica, the Asian side recovered brilliantly with another giant-killing 2-1 win—this time against Spain. The victory also rewarded Japan with the six points required to be crowned the leader of this challenging group.

Spain: “La Roja” started their World Cup campaign with a dominating 7-0 win against the Costa Ricans—their biggest-ever victory in a World Cup. However, the 1-1 tie against Germany and the 1-2 loss to Japan meant that the Spaniards would fall to second, surpassing the Germans on goal differential and clinching a spot in the last 16 with four points.

Germany: After going 1-0 up against Japan by a Gündoğan penalty, the 1-2 result against Japan was certainly a hard pill to swallow for “Die Mannschaft.” The tie against Spain was not much of an improvement and despite a 4-2 win against Costa Rica, the Germans could not displace Spain for knockout qualification due to their inferior goal differential.

Costa Rica: The Central American side did not have a prayer in their opening game as they were dismantled by Spain in an embarrassing 0-7 defeat. A 1-0 victory against the Japanese gave them hope, but the loss to Germany ultimately crushed their dreams as they ended up bottom of the group with three points.

Group F:

Morocco: A 0-0 tie against a talented Croatian attack was what Morocco would have wanted in their first game in Qatar. Their defense was a brick wall and held off the Croatians to their first goalless game since 2006. The Moroccans then kept up this impressive form with an unexpected 2-0 victory against a disappointing Belgium side. A second victory, this time against Canada, secured first place in the group for the “Atlas Lions” with seven points.

Croatia: As the runner-ups of the previous World Cup, the Croatians would be slightly underwhelmed by the 0-0 result in their opening game against Morocco. However, “Modrić and Co.” dazzled in their next match against Canada to win 4-1, and another goalless tie against Belgium was enough to grab second place with five points.

Belgium: Though they were heavy favorites in their opening match against Canada, the Belgians required a critical penalty save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and a clinical Michy Batshuayi goal at the end of the first half to win 1-0. Their underwhelming form continued with a defeat at the hands of Morocco and a scoreless draw with Croatia that pushed them down to third place in the standings. With only four points, Belgium is eliminated from further contention in the tournament.

Canada: As they headed into their second-ever World Cup, the Canadians would have surely rued their finishing after their game against Belgium ended in a 0-1 defeat. “Les Rouges” followed this up with an utter collapse against Croatia and lost 1-4. Another loss against Morocco dropped them to last place in the group with 0 points, concluding the pitiful campaign of the Canadians.

Japan, as the first seed out of Group E, will battle against Group F runners-up Croatia in the round of 16 for a spot in the quarterfinals. Likewise, Group E runners-up Spain will face Group F’s champion, Morocco.

Group G:

Brazil: The major favorites did not disappoint in their opener against Serbia and managed to win 2-0 via two well-crafted goals from Richarlison. The Brazilians continued their winning streak with a 1-0 win against Switzerland, and though they suffered a 1-0 loss to Cameroon, they still qualified for the last 16 top of the group with six points.

Switzerland: In a tough opening match against Cameroon, the Swiss managed to secure a 1-0 victory for themselves. The team remained defensively solid and a goal from striker Breel Embolo (who was born in Cameroon) ultimately gave them the win. The loss to Brazil was discouraging, but another win against Serbia allowed the “Rossocrociati” to clinch a spot for the next round with six points.

Cameroon: The Cameroonians will have felt hard done as they created better opportunities against the Swiss yet still lost 0-1. Their attack was more threatening against Serbia, but the defense remained shaky as the African side tied 3-3. Despite an unanticipated 1-0 victory over Brazil, the “Indomitable Lions” remained third in the group and failed to qualify for the round of 16 with their four points.

Serbia: The Serbs did their best against favorites Brazil, but the South American attack was just too much for them. A stunning scissor-kick goal from Brazilian striker Richarlison was the final nail in the coffin for Serbia in their 0-2 defeat. The next match against Cameroon was more disappointing: after going 3-1 up, the Serbs crumbled in the second half and had to settle for a 3-3 tie. They failed in their final chance for knockout competition against Switzerland in a similar fashion as they lost 2-3 and floundered to last place in the group with one point.

Group H:

Portugal: Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo broke yet another record in his nation's opening match against Ghana by converting a penalty to make him the first man to score in five consecutive World Cups. However, Portugal still had to fight hard against the Ghanaians to win that match 3-2 and certainly rode their luck too, as a mistake from goalkeeper Diogo Costa on the last kick of the game almost cost the Portuguese their victory. But the “Seleção” stepped up their game in the next match against Uruguay with a 2-0 win, and though they did lose 1-2 to Korea, they finished first in the group and qualified for the knockout rounds with six points.

South Korea: The “Tigers of Asia” were the epitome of resilience, and their urge to push for the win in every match rewarded them with a spot in the last 16. After the tie against Uruguay and the loss to Ghana, qualification for the next round seemed virtually impossible. However, the Koreans persevered and finally crafted a 2-1 upset over Portugal in the last game to qualify with four points.

Uruguay: The elite attacking threat of Suarez, Nuñez, and Cavani of the Uruguayans was still not enough to give them the win against an organized South Korea as they tied 0-0. The forwards were even more wasteful in the match against Portugal and paid the price as their nation lost the game 0-2. Though the 2-0 victory against Ghana granted them four points, the lackluster finishing of “La Celeste” prevented their qualification to the last 16 because they scored fewer goals than Korea.

Ghana: Despite threatening Portugal until the very last minute, fortune was not in Ghana's favor, as they eventually lost 2-3. The Ghanaians then performed impressively in a 3-2 win against Korea, but the loss to Uruguay means they are last of their group with three points and are eliminated from the tournament.

Being the first seed of Group G, Brazil will face South Korea, the second seed of Group H. Likewise, Group H leaders Portugal will fight against Group G runners-up Switzerland for a place in the quarterfinals.