We are only a couple of days into the 2018 edition of the World Cup in Russia and the footballing world has already been set alight with plenty of talking points and memorable moments.
The opening game between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday (June 14) was preceded by a colourful ceremony celebrating Russian culture and an even more colourful Robbie Williams who flipped the bird on-air.
Match-wise, the game itself turned into a goal-fest and not the (goal-less) draw which some cynics had earlier predicted.
Russia dismantled Saudi Arabia, putting five past them and getting their own tournament off to a flying start. Interestingly, the Russians scored more in this one game than they did throughout the entire World Cup in 2014, when they could only produce a meagre two over three games.
The winners of the previous two editions, Germany and Spain, however had not-so-bright starts.
Mexico took three big points from Germany when they upset the defending champions with a shock 1-0 victory. Though some Mexican fans did not relish the prospect of facing Germany in the first group game, their mood definitely changed when the whistle for full-time came:
— yung chente🇲🇽⚡️ (@yungchente97) June 17, 2018
The crowd in the Mexico vs Germany game is what the atmosphere in a World Cup match should be.
Also the Mexican NT is really putting their heart and soul into this game. Almighty plz don’t let them lose today.pic.twitter.com/wJnPweSCf9
— Regină ⁵ 🇧🇷🇵🇹 (@_RIZmadridista) June 17, 2018
Spain on the other hand, were victims to the brilliance of one man. Cristiano Ronaldo, who is currently fronting a blood drive for the Singapore Red Cross, scored a hat trick against La Roja to draw the game against Spain. The highlights reel of the thrilling game is number one on Youtube’s Trending lists at the time of writing, with many calling the game one of the best the World Cup has ever seen:
What kind of football were we watching before portugal vs spain
— Marwan (@realmarwxn) June 15, 2018
The other contender to the title of Greatest Footballer of All Time, one Lionel Messi, unfortunately struggled to follow up on Ronaldo’s opening performance.
His team, Argentina, could only manage a draw with Iceland, a country of around 300,000. To make things worse, Messi also missed a spot kick – an incident which has been immortalised by this ‘beauty queen’ meme.
Incidentally, the Icelandic goalkeeper, Hannes Halldórsson, who saved Messi’s penalty is also a filmmaker, having worked on documentary “Hrafnhildur- heimildarmynd um kynleiðréttingu” and commercials including one for Coke to commemorate the World Cup.
Fans pointed out that he is not the only one on the team with other obligations outside of football, making Iceland’s achievements seems even more unfathomable:
It’s the first time Iceland are in the World Cup. We have fewer people than Coventry. Our coach is a part time dentist. Our Goalie is a movie producer & our right back works in salt. Today was our first game & we drew 1-1 against Argentina. Well in Iceland 🇮🇸 pic.twitter.com/f7ulYlFiXS
— Kop-Ice (@kopice86) June 16, 2018
🇮🇸 Iceland defender Birkir Már Saevarsson:
👨🏽🍳 Works in a Salt Factory 🙋♂️ Had to ask permission to play at the #WorldCup ⚽️ Semi-Pro Footballer
😳 Plays 90 minutes in his sides 1-1 draw with Argentina yesterday. pic.twitter.com/CIC9dIIcoV
— 8Fact Football WC 🏆 (@8Fact_Footballl) June 17, 2018
The World Cup is never short of drama, what with two last-minute winners already seen during the Uruguay-Egypt and the Morocco-Iran games.
Iran made history with their win over Morocco, as it was their first win at the World Cup for over 20 years since beating the USA at the 1998 tournament.
If the rest of the tournament continues with the same amount of entertainment the first few days has given us, this year’s World Cup is set to be a treat for football fans everywhere.