2018 World Cup: Upsets Galore In 1st Round Of Matches

Each team in this year’s World Cup has officially played their first game of the tournament, and it’s been absolutely nothing short of pure entertainment. Why? Most of the teams favourited to actually win the World Cup have not been successful, underdogs are playing superior, and late, dramatic goals are taking the stage.

Everyone loves a good underdog and cinderella story, as there usually is at least one in every major international tournament, but what if there were multiple cinderella stories? It’s still early, but as of right now, many teams that most put money on to qualify out of their groups are either currently last, or in a position where their last two matches are absolutely must wins.

Are the favourited teams walking into matches too confidently and taking these teams way too lightly, or have the less superior sides been playing for their lives? We haven’t seen upsets of this magnitude in quite a while, so let’s analyze, group by group, the events that have taken place so far.


Group A:

Russia came out in the opening match of the tournament and absolutely dominated Saudi Arabia, welcoming them with a 5-0 thrashing. Uruguay, who were the clear group favourites, opened up their campaign against Egypt, with their best player Mohammed Salah sitting on the bench for that one, it took the side with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez leading the line until the 89th minute to bag a winner, as Atletico defender José Giménez scored a bullet header at the death to earn three points. Russia and Uruguay look the favourites to get out of Group A right now, but much can change over the next week.

960 (1)

Group B:

Betting men all over the world definitely had Spain and Portugal advancing from this group. However, Iran pulled off a shock result in their opener against Morocco, with the Moroccans scoring an own goal off a set-piece in injury time to give the Iranians the 3 points. The clash of the heavyweights Spain and Portugal ended in a draw after Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa brilliance, so the group is completely wide open.


Group C:

After France, the last three sides are all relatively even and all three could pull off a few shock results to advance to the knockout rounds. France opened up against Australia, who absolutely gave them a run for their money. After swapping goals from the penalty spot, Paul Pogba sealed the deal for the French team (though it was awarded as an own goal) in the 81st minute to secure 3 points, but it was far from easy. If the Australians can give France a run, they have a great chance of sneaking in with positive results against Denmark or Peru.


Group D: 

Are the Argentines contenders, or pretenders? Messi’s team opened up against Euro 2016 cinderella story Iceland, who held the South Americans to a draw in the opener, which was a huge result for them and completely opens up the group’s structure. Since Croatia did the business against Nigeria winning comfortably, Argentina are now in must win mode and cannot drop any more points. Some may call this group the “group of death”, as any of the four teams can realistically qualify.


Group E: 

Another group classified as a potential “group of death.” The results in the first round of matches proved it. Brazil, who had all the odds to beat Switzerland, drew 1-1 and had no way past Yan Sommer in goal. Serbia beat Costa Rica to really open the group up. The Costa Ricans were the headline story in the 2014 World Cup after beating Uruguay and Italy in their group, so with two matches left you cannot count them out either. Favourites Brazil cannot drop anymore points either in their last two matches.


Group F: 

Might be the most nuts results so far of all. Mexico, who probably came into the tournament thinking they would start the summer with a loss, came out with a shock victory over World Champions Germany. However, the credit is all to Mexico, they were absolutely fantastic and played without fear against the Germans, and came out with a victory that might just give them that hope to qualify to the knockout stages. With Sweden beating South Korea as well, if the Germans drop any points to Sweden in a few days, their tournament will most likely be over.


Group G: 

No upsets so far in this group. Tunisia and Panama are far below in terms of quality behind England and Belgium, and with both countries picking up victories, it looks like the only thing left to be determined will be the seeding of the two strong sides. Belgium scored all three goals in the second half against Panama, and Tunisia took England till the 90th minute, where Harry Kane scored his second to bring crucial points home. Anything could happen, but no upsets here yet.


Group H: 

Crazy results so far. Coming into the tournament, most would say that it looks a pretty strong group, but Colombia and Poland would be the favourites. Well, those two teams both lost their opening matches to Japan and Senegal respectively! Since they both sit with 0 points, it’s very likely that only one of them will get in now. It all depends on the match between the two strong countries next week, as one could end the other’s tournament. Could we see Japan and Senegal top Group H, are they the cinderella stories this year? Time will tell.

How well do you know European and world football? Want to challenge the best Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasy-worldcup.com now!

5 Potential World Cup Dark Horses

Every international tournament, there always seems to be a “cinderella” story that comes about, with Costa Rica being the team who were a big surprise in the 2014 World Cup. This piece will go over five teams to look out for in this tournament, and how these sides could be potential dark horses to have a lengthy stay in the tournament. Obviously any side can play well for three tournament games and continue that form in the knockout stages, and this list will vary with opinion, but here are the sides that could shock us all in the coming weeks.


1. Belgium

Can they finally put it all together? A side that has had tons of quality on paper for the last 5 plus years, but have never been able to gel on the field and provide results surrounding all the hype. Even in the Euro 2016, Belgium lost to Wales in the Quarter-Finals, which was seen as a major disappointment in their eyes, and will be looking to build from that in making a deep run this time around. Many of their players have hit a peak time of their careers, including Romelo Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Dries Mertens. Aside from England, they should get out of the group and make a push in the knockout rounds.

Key Players: Toby Alderweireld, Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens


2. Croatia 

To me, the Croatians are always a pesky side that are slept on by many. Looking at their squad on paper, they ooze quality in every position. From Monaco’s Danijel Subasic in goal, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric in the midfield of course, and Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic being one of the key components up front, this Croatia side can cause tons of damage in Russia 2018. They will have their work cut out for them though, as some would call Group D, which has Messi’s Argentina, fan favourite Iceland, and a confident Nigeria, the ‘group of death’ in the tournament. A side that always causes problems, the midfield will be the engine of the team, as Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Milan Badelj, Mateo Kovacic, and Marcelo Brozovic all have quality and characteristics to help them be successful.

Key Players: Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic


3. Poland

Like Croatia, Poland are one of those sides that can cause some trouble, but never put it together to make that deep run. Could 2018 be the year? In qualifying, the Poles looked very convincing, and on paper, their squad has the depth required to go toe-to-toe with some top teams in Russia this summer, and it all starts with the group stages. They sit in Group H, with Colombia, Senegal and Japan. Not an easy group by any means, as especially Senegal can cause problems for a knockout stage spot. If they need goals, the Poles will look no further than Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik, as the two will look to link up together to push their country through June.

Key Players: Wojciech Szczesny, Kamil Glik, Piotr Zielinski, Robert Lewandowski


4. Serbia 

This one is definitely a bold prediction for a dark horse. Having not qualified for the finals since 2010, the European side will definitely want to make this tournament worth their while. Many will read this and say that Serbia just don’t have enough to make a run, but I would counter with what quality Costa Rica had in 2014, when they only were eliminated in the Quarter-Finals on penalties. Unlucky for the Serbians, their group will not be easy in any sort of way, with Brazil, Costa Rica, and a tricky Switzerland team joining them in Group E. They have experience with a splash of youth and creativity in the defence and midfield, which could carry them out of the group and into the knockouts.

Key Players: Nemanja Matic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Aleksandar Mitrovic


5. Uruguay 

Balance is the biggest strength in this Uruguay side, along with experience combined with true quality in every position. This year’s squad looks familiar to the side that took the field in Brazil 2014, which was knocked out in the Round of 16. Also, coach Tabarez has brought some youth into the mix this time around too, with Sampdoria (most likely moving to Arsenal) midfielder Lucas Torreira joining the mix, and should be starting in the central midfield role as well. You cannot overlook the world class attack the side possesses as well, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez manning the attack. They’re in Group A, and most betting people would pick Uruguay to top the group with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Key Players: Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Fantasy Football Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play www.fantasy-worldcup.com now!

SERIE A: 5 Players Who Could Leave Abroad This Summer

The football season all across Europe is officially over, so the transfer rumours and speculation have already commenced. With English teams having heavy pockets as always, and the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich looking to upgrade, a few stars of Serie A could look to move for a pay raise, or a chance to win a club trophy. Here are five players that could depart Italy in this summer transfer market.


1. Jorginho (Napoli)

The regista has been on many teams’ radar over the past season, including the likes of reining Premier League champions Manchester City, as coach Pep Guardiola has reportedly kept a close eye on the 26-year-old. Right when the season ended, rumours began to swirl around Italy and England linking the Italian-Brazilian to Manchester, for a fee in the vicinity of 50 million Euros. His agent has also come out and spoke on his client’s behalf, saying they haven’t yet spoken to new coach Carlo Ancelotti yet, and that they will see what happens in the coming weeks. Roberto Mancini is using Jorginho as a pivotal part in his Azzurri midfield, as he played the full 90 minutes against Saudi Arabia in the 2-1 win on May 28th, 2018. Insiders have already revealed who Napoli could potentially replace the midfielder with, and this adds to the speculation of a potential summer move.

Torino vs Lazio

2. Sergej Milinković-Savić (Lazio)

Is he worth 130 million Euros? According to reports in Italy, this is what Lazio president Claudio Lotito is apparently demanding for teams who want to purchase the young, Serbian starlet this summer. The 23-year-old had a dominant season in 2017-2018 Serie A, scoring 12 goals and adding 3 assists to boot. In addition, he scored 2 goals and provided 3 assists in Lazio’s Europa League campaign. Over the past few years, Milinković-Savić’s name has been in transfer rumours throughout Europe, with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, and even Juventus all said to be interested in the midfielder. His performances, especially this past season has put the world on notice, and he will have the 2018 World Cup with Serbia to either increase his value, prove his worth or even potentially lower Lotito’s demands for the summer. “Minko” has been looking like Paul Pogba in his time at Juventus over the past two seasons, and he may be paid like the Frenchman too.


3. Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria)

The 22-year-old Uruguayan has played an integral role for Marco Giampaolo and Sampdoria over the past two seasons, becoming the outright starter in the central midfielder role. Torreira’s game is one that you get to appreciate by actually watching him, not through stats. Against the likes of Milan and Juventus this season, the youngster was one of the best players on the pitch; winning possession, covering tons of space, and starting attacks with a pass in-between the lines. Over the last few weeks, it’s been reported that Arsenal and new boss Unai Emery like his style of play and will ask Sampdoria for their price demands this summer, sparking several rumours over his future. He was included in Uruguay’s World Cup roster, so if he performs well, his name will be on many wish lists this summer.


4. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan)

Over the past 12 months, there’s been nothing but drama surrounding the 19-year-old, and his popular agent, Mino Raiola. His agent has added to the speculation during the season and transfer market, saying if it was up to him Gigio wouldn’t be a Milan player anymore, but his will is to stay at the club he’s grown at. There has been many teams across Europe interested, including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool who have apparently kicked tires on the goalkeeper. Milan management have stated their will to keep him at the club for a long time, but if a miraculous offer comes in the summer transfer market, the Rossoneri will have to consider and re-invest in other areas.


5. Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)

After two seasons with the Bianconeri and winning two scudetti, the Argentine striker may be on his way out this summer. During the season, there were not many rumours surrounding the experienced centre-forward, but after Juve’s last match and scudetto celebration, there has been plenty of speculation around his future. In a shocking move, some reports said he could move to Inter with money in exchange with countryman Mauro Icardi, which would be one of the most crazy swap deals in Serie A history. Former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri may be moving to Chelsea in England, and may recall his former player to join him in London. After investing over 90 million Euros on the striker two summers ago, Juventus will surely not make a profit on him, so the highest bidder would most likely acquire his services this summer.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play www.seriea-fantasy.com now!

5 Surprise Players Of The 17/18 Serie A Season

Like always, the 2017-2018 Serie A season provided drama, excitement, and entertainment for calcio fans around the world. However, there were a few surprise players that many most likely didn’t select for their “fantacalcio” squads at the beginning of the season, and this is what sparks this piece. Five players who surprised us all with their performances this year.


1. Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Age? Just a number. The now 35-year-old finished 4th in goal-scoring in Serie A, just behind Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and 10 goals behind the league leaders, Mauro Icardi and Ciro Immobile. In addition to his impressive and surprising 19 goal tally, the Neapolitan also Continue reading

Serie A: Top Young Italians In 17/18 Season

Another Serie A season has come to a close, and the 38 rounds showcased great talent to calcio fans all around the world. With that, many young Italian players bursted their way on to the scene this season, and made their names known to Serie A and Azzurri fans quickly. In no specific order, this piece will list five of the top Italian starlets in the Serie A for 2017-2018, and will provide an explanation and analysis of their season.


Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina):

Son of popular footballer Enrico Chiesa, the quick and agile winger had a great full season for La Viola under Stefano Pioli, tallying 6 goals and adding 5 assists. Looking further upon the stats, Chiesa is a player that excites every time he gets a touch on the ball. Continue reading