Pre-match predictions have not lasted long at the 2018 FIFA World Cup this year. In form teams have not managed to translate that form onto the world's stage and some of the more illustrious teams have not managed to get going yet.
Mexico show versatility against Germany
Germany never come into major tournaments in great form but once the competition starts, they start to click on all cylinders. This was not the case today as Mexico stunned them with a determined performance. In the first half, the Mexicans kept Germany on the back foot and in the second half, after the current holders made some adjustments, Mexico stood firm against any attack from the Germans.
Héctor Herrera tested Manuel Neuer early on in the match but the goalkeeper, who had missed most of the season through injury, was able to get behind the long range effort and catch it fairly comfortably. Carlos Salcedo then almost gave up a calamitous own goal when he was the last person to touch Joshua Kimmich's cross and almost put it into his own net. Mexico's attacking impetus then paid dividends in the 35th minute thanks to Hirving Lozano's composure in front of goal. Mexico stymied a German attack and then Carlos Vela and Javier Hernández played a neat one-two between to set Mexico off on the break. Hernandez unselfishly squared the ball to Lozano and the PSV Eindhoven winger cut inside before finishing past Neuer at the near post.
Germany almost came closest to equalizing three minutes later when Toni Kroos' curling free-kick was nudged onto the crossbar by Guillermo Ochoa who made a fantastic leap to get to that ball. Other than that, all of Germany's efforts were for naught as they could not find their way past a strong Mexican backline and a solid goalkeeper in Ochoa, leaving them to fall to defeat in an opening World Cup game for the first time in 32 years.
Switzerland keep Brazil at bay in Group E
In another game that most people thought would be a straight forward result, Switzerland recovered well to nick a point off of Brazil in their opening group game. For all of Brazil's talent, they could not finish well in front of goal and Switzerland did give them a few scares on the break.
Paulinho should have put the Brazilians ahead in the 11th minute after some good build up play by Philippe Coutinho and Neymar but the midfielder scuffed his shot from two yards out and it rolled just wide of the goal. Brazil did take the lead in this game in the 20th minute thanks to what has now become a trademark Coutinho goal. The FC Barcelona man picked up the ball at the edge of the box and then proceeded to bend it into the far corner of the goal. The Brazilians held onto that lead for the rest of the first half and into the break. In the second half, Switzerland pushed forward and looked to get back on level terms. They managed to do just that in the 50th minute when Steven Zuber powered his header into goal after Xherdan Shaqiri sent in a great corner. Zuber was completely unmarked and proceeded to punish the Brazilians for leaving him open so close to goal.
Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Joel Miranda all had opportunities late in the game to score the winner but Yann Sommer proved equal to their efforts and Miranda could not keep his shot on target. The match ended in a 1-1 draw but it was what both teams deserved as Switzerland stayed organized and disciplined while Brazil failed to ignite after Coutinho's fabulous effort.
Kolarov shines against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov is known for scoring great goals with his left foot and today, he helped Serbia to an opening day win against Costa Rica with another great goal to add to his collection.
Costa Rica should have gone ahead in the third minute when Giancarlo González was found completely unmarked in the box by a short corner but somehow, the Costa Rican defender fired his header over the crossbar from about six yards out. Aleksandar Mitrović was the next player to have a guilt-edged chance ot put his team ahead. Sergej Milinković-Savić, who had an oustanding game for Serbia, sent Mitrović through on goal in the 50th minute and instead of chipping the advancing Keylor Navas, the striker proceeded to fire weakly against the Costa Rican goalkeeper and not put his team ahead. Six minutes later, Serbia had the goal their play deserved. Kolarov stood over a free-kick that was about 30 yards out and proceeded to bend it past Navas into the near corner.
Filip Kostić should have made it two for Serbia in the 76th minute when a cross evaded everyone and landed at his feet in front of goal but somehow, the ball bounced off his shin and away from goal with an open net beckoning. In the end, the missed chances did not matter as Kolarov's goal ended up being the game-winner for Serbia, putting them on top of Group E for the moment. Costa Rica have a lot of work to do as they barely threatened Serbia's goal and if they have any hopes of making it out of their group, their offense needs to find its feet quickly.