So 16 games played, with another 48 matches to go at the 2022 World Cup. There have been four 0-0 draws already — Russia 2018 only saw one — but a few teams have recorded statement wins.
England arrived in Qatar having endured the worst buildup to a World Cup in its history. But Gareth Southgate’s team dispelled any criticism by thrashing Iran 6-2, its second largest victory at the tournament.
Likewise, France came to the World Cup having lost its dynamic midfield duo of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté to injury, not to mention Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
After going behind to Australia early on it looked like the curse of the defending champion would strike France just as it had the previous four winners in their opening games. But a brace from Olivier Giroud and goals from Adrian Rabiot and Kylian Mbappé sealed a French comeback and a flying start to its World Cup defence.
Spain’s 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica set a new level of excellence at Qatar 2022 — arguably the most dominant performance in a World Cup game this century. Not only did La Roja score seven, but Luis Enrique’s side did not let Costa Rica take a single shot during the 90 minutes. Dominance.
Meanwhile, Brazil carries the heavy burden as pre-tournament favorite, and it showed in a difficult first half against Serbia. Then Richarlison got to work, grabbing a double, including an early contender for goal of the tournament with an acrobatic finish to give the Seleção a 2-0 win.
Brazil showed its unbelievable attacking depth as Neymar Jr. and younger stars like Vinicius Jr., Raphinha, Richarlisan and Rodrygo took center stage in a new and thrilling Brazil side looking to showcase a 2022 edition of jogo bonito (the beautiful game) at the World Cup.
However, the biggest winners of the first round of fixtures were arguably not from Europe or South America, but from Asia.
Saudi Arabia came into the tournament as one of the lowest ranked sides and with an unknown team entirely hailing from domestic club football.
In the path of the Green Falcons was an Argentina side unbeaten in 36 games and led by Lionel Messi in his pursuit of the only trophy that has eluded him in his glittering career.
But the Saudis were not daunted, coming from behind to score two brilliant goals and cause the biggest upset in World Cup history.
Just a day later, Japan followed up with a seismic shock of its own, turning over Germany. Like Saudi Arabia, the Samurai Blue went behind to a first-half penalty, but turned it around to earn the most famous win in Japan’s history.