World Cup recap: Day 4
Favorites Brazil and Germany stumble as Mexico pulls off shocker
Sunday was all about how Neymar would perform to follow up performances by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The PSG forward played in his first official match since leaving a Ligue 1 match due to injury back in February. The heavy hitter on the card was Germany, the defending World Champions, against Mexico.
Costa Rica 0-1 Serbia
Samara Arena, Samara
The early game on Sunday was between the 2014 World Cup darlings Costa Rica and Serbia. With Brazil and Switzerland also in Group E, every point would be crucial for all four nations. This match had the best start so far of the World Cup matches with both sides trading punches early. Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas was solid in goal, as expected, which allowed Costa Rica to be the better threat offensively. Ultimately, Los Ticos could not capitalize on any of their five goal-scoring opportunities and the match would be a scoreless draw at the half.
The moment of the match came in the second half when Serbia captain Aleksandar Kolarov scored a stunning free kick to give his side the lead in the 56th minute. Costa Rica would press forward but could never break through the Serbian defense as the match would end 1-nil.
Analysis: This one may prove to be a decider in Serbia advancing among the top two, especially considering what would go on to happen later in the day between Brazil and Switzerland. Costa Rica have it tough with Brazil next on their plate, and a loss there would likely mean elimination.
Notable stat: Sunday’s loss brought an end to Costa Rica’s five-match unbeaten run at the FIFA World Cup
Germany 0-1 Mexico
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Mexico pulled the shocker of the tournament so far by delivering a loss to the defending champions Germany, who are still among the favorites to win this year’s tournament. An inspired Mexican attack was immediately on the attack and feeding off what had to be 40,000+ traveling Mexico fans at the Luzhniki Stadium. Throughout the first half, Mexico were committed to attack through the left side of the field. El Tri provided danger off the counter, dispossessing the German machine, and finally made them pay in the 35th minute. It was 22-year-old forward Hirving Lozano who provide the game-winning goal that would give Mexico a historic win. Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos had a free kick opportunity in the 39th minute that Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa saved to keep the lead.
After a much needed breather at halftime, Mexico continued with a relentless defense and fast-paced attack on the counter. Germany did have their opportunities but would either hit them off target or with not enough firepower on the ball. The German substitutions were not able to make an impact, giving Mexico the top spot in the group.
Analysis: Mexico looked the side with more desire while Germany looked to have underestimated their opposition. The defending champions struggled to break down the Mexican defense and were not the cool, calm, collected “machine” that they normally are. After heavy media scrutiny during qualification, this was a huge win for Mexico’s Manager Juan Carlos Osorio. The Colombian-born manager has been criticized by pundits and fans for his tactical choices - mainly rotating the squad and not providing a consistent starting XI. Mexico have a good opportunity to win out the group and have an easier path in the knockout rounds - at least it looks that way - than in past World Cups.
Notable stat: Mexico’s Rafael Marquez became the fourth player to participate in his fifth FIFA World Cup (the most by any player), joining fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal, Germany’s Lothar Matthaeus and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon.
Brazil 1-1 Switzerland
Rostov Arena Rostov-On-Don
There’s a reason this match was placed last and it’s because of Brazil’s starpower. After Ronaldo and Messi had their turn, today was a day for Neymar to show what he had. The five-time champions were the most dangerous in the first half, with an Paulinho miss in the 11th minute being the best early chance for Brazil. His FC Barcelona teammate Philippe Coutinho would be the one to give Brazil the lead in the 20th minute with a wonderful curving strike from distance that adds to the list of great goals this World Cup. Brazil would have another great opportunity, off a corner, right before the half to take the lead. Teams would go to the dressing room 1-1.
Switzerland immediately came out in the second half with all intention to punch Brazil in the mouth, and did so. Five minutes in Steven Zuber scored off a corner to tie the score at one-all. Brazil would impatiently chase for the win for the rest of the match but to no avail. Switzerland were too compact defensively and wouldn’t allow Brazil any opportunities of quality. The Swiss also generated little on attack, outshot 15-4 in the second half, but did everything they needed to walk away with the point.
Analysis: This is a result that benefits Switzerland more than it does Brazil. The South Americans were expected to win and couldn’t find their way to the result. Switzerland can feel positive about having something to build on but will have to act against Serbia to move closer towards qualification to the knockout stage.
Notable stat: Valon Behrami became the first Switzerland player in history to appear at four World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018).
Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):
Monday, June 18
7 a.m. - [Group F] Sweden vs. South Korea (FS1, Telemundo)
10 a.m. - [Group G] Belgium vs. Panama (FS1, Telemundo)
1 p.m. - [Group G] Tunisia vs. England (FS1, Telemundo)