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Why wait for the World Cup, when CricketSoccer can report on it now? Part 1 – Groups A and B with a Russian revolution and Real Madrid civil war 

Group A

Hosts Russia couldn’t have had a more comfortable set of opponents than in group A, but at the end of the day, they still didn’t manage to qualify for the next round. With just one win, against Saudi Arabia, out of three games Russia leaves the World Cup and there is nothing president Vladimir Putin can do about it, although there remains concerns as Putin has hinted at calling off the competition now his country has been eliminated.

We will get our focus back to football, however, and there was enough to enjoy in that department especially when it came to Uruguay. A well-balanced side with exceptional players eased their way through the group stage with three wins and finished first. Luis Suarez was the star man with three goals and two assists but also generated some controversy.

When he thought he had opened the score in the game against Russia, the referee asked for the VAR referee to review the goal. The VAR referee ruled out the goal because Suarez committed a foul in the build-up. The 31-year-old striker was furious and asked the referee where the VAR bus was so he could see the images himself. When he heard that the bus was outside the stadium, Suarez seemed to calm down a bit but was still convinced of the fact the goal should’ve counted.

Another player that caught the eye was Egypt star, Mohammed Salah. The Liverpool player has been on top form all season and has guided his country at this World Cup so far. Two match-winners vs. Russia and Saudi Arabia secured second place for Egypt. After the last group game Salah surprised a lot of people with the following quote, though: “After the World Cup, my home might be in Spain instead of England”. Liverpool fans cover their eyes in horror.

Finally, Saudi Arabia experienced a disappointing campaign, losing all their games and not scoring a single goal in the process. They finished last in the group and will go home with a sour taste in their mouths.

1.       Uruguay

2.       Egypt

3.       Russia

4.       Saudi Arabia

Group B

When the draw was done, Group B looked like an easy one to predict as powerhouses Spain and Portugal were matched with Morocco and Iran. And although the World Cup has been known to provide some historic surprises, Group B didn’t.

Spain and Portugal shared the points when they met on the opening matchday in what was a fiercely contested game between the neighbours. Cristiano Ronaldo got into a fight with his club captain Sergio Ramos as the latter stamped on the Portugal star. It was one of the many highlights in a 2-2 draw. Real Madrid youngster Marco Asensio stole the show with two magnificent solo goals, while Ronaldo and Pepe were on target for Portugal.

In the other game of round one, Morocco and Iran also drew which earned them the only point of the tournament. The rest of the games were completely dominated Portugal and Spain who picked up a maximum of six points from their remaining two group games.

Spain finished top due to their superior goal difference, which will see them go up against Egypt in the round of 16 while Portugal have the task of facing Uruguay. Morocco and Iran will say their goodbyes to what was a mountain too high to climb. They won’t feel any shame for losing out to two greats of the international game., though.

Spain, on the other hand, seem ready to grab their second World Cup in eight years. They have looked as good as any country in this tournament so far and will feel that their experience in these kind of knockout games could be decisive.

1.       Spain

2.       Portugal

3.       Morocco

4.       Iran

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