By Israel Igiri
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is a fiesta that has brought great joy and delight to the whole world, uniting and bring together people from various parts of the world to share one single language. The group stage of the tournament recently came to an end and football lovers have witnessed a whole lot from the display of various teams. Among them, here are four lessons that we have learnt so far.
Africa teams are not yet ripe for World Cup glory
Why the five African teams in Russia are already out is a puzzle, many would find daunting to grapple with. But the reality has always been there: When it comes to global event such as the World Cup, teams for the continent had always struggled to prove a point. Nigeria, Morroco, Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, who unarguably put up the best performance from the continent- did not find it smooth in Russia, leading to their early exit. The major concern for teams in Africa now should be how to handle the heat of pressure during an event like World Cup. Nigeria’s loss to Argentina and Senegal’s eventual elimination were as a result of this. Football is about the doggedness and ability to win rough even when a team is not playing at its best. This, Africa teams, have been lacking over the years.
Scoring first is important
So far so good, very few teams have managed to claim maximum points after conceding first in this World Cup. If you concede first, you stand a slim chance of coming back into the game. Maybe that trend will change in the knockout stages. Who knows?
Pre-tournament favourites struggling to get things right
Teams like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France and Argentina have really struggled to get points in this World Cup. The pre-tournament favourites have not been able to live up to the hype as teams like Russia, Croatia, England and Belgium stealing the show with impressive performances so far so good.
In fact, Argentina with arguably the best player in history, Messi, were on the brink of elimination until Rojo’s late strike helped them to grind out a result that saw them through to the knock-out stages against Nigeria in their final group game on Tuesday. The most shocking so far, however, has been Germany’s shameful elimination from the tournament after slumping to heavy defeats from Mexico and North Korea. Who among the big guns is up next for a surprise elimination?
Midfield quality is key
Teams without quality and solidity in the middle of the pack have failed to cope in the tournament. Teams without a compact midfield struggle to create chances and are either made to wander about or park the bus and rely on counter attacks as teams with creative and tactical midfielders dominate and pile pressure on teams lacking quality in midfield.