So 16 games played, with 48 games still to go at the 2022 World Cup. There have already been four 0-0 draws – Russia 2018 saw just one – but a few teams have recorded decisive wins.
England arrived in Qatar having suffered the worst preparation for a World Cup in their history. But Gareth Southgate’s side dispelled any criticism by beating Iran 6-2, their second biggest win of the tournament.
Likewise, France arrived at the World Cup having lost their dynamic midfield duo of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté to injury, not to mention Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
After falling behind in Australia early on, it looked like the reigning champion’s curse would hit France just as it had hit the previous four winners in their first games. But a brace from Olivier Giroud and goals from Adrian Rabiot and Kylian Mbappé sealed a French comeback and a strong start for their World Cup defence.
Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica set a new level of excellence at Qatar 2022 – arguably the most dominating performance in a World Cup game this century. Not only La Roja score seven, but Luis Enrique’s side didn’t let Costa Rica fire a single shot in the full 90 minutes. Dominance.
Meanwhile, Brazil carry the heavy burden as pre-tournament favorites, and it showed in a tough first half against Serbia. Then Richarlison got to work, catching a brace, including one of the tournament’s first goal contenders with an acrobatic finish to give the Selection a 2-0 victory.
Brazil showed their incredible depth of attack as Neymar Jr. and younger stars like Vinicius Jr., Raphinha, Richarlisan and Rodrygo took center stage in an exciting new Brazilian squad looking to field a 2022 edition of bonito (The beautiful game) at the World Cup.
However, the biggest winners in the first round of matches arguably came not from Europe or South America, but from Asia.
Saudi Arabia entered the tournament as one of the lowest-ranked teams and with an unknown team drawn entirely from domestic club football.
In the Green Falcons’ path was an Argentine side unbeaten in 36 games and led by Lionel Messi in their pursuit of the only trophy that eluded them in their glittering career.
But the Saudis were undeterred, coming from behind to score two brilliant goals and cause the biggest upset in World Cup history.
Just a day later, Japan followed with its own seismic shock, knocking Germany down. Like Saudi Arabia, Samurai Blue fell behind on a first-half penalty but overturned it to claim the most famous win in Japanese history.