The first round was full of surprises.
Group A was an exception as it saw Qatar losing all three games while The Netherlands came in first place, losing none. The deciding game for second place was won by Senegal, edging Ecuador 2-1.
Group B was also an exception as it saw England going first with no losses, while Wales came last with a single point. The deciding game for second place was won by the USMNT, edging Iran 1-0.
Group C saw a huge surprise as Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1 in their opening game after going down to a Messi goal. But Argentina went on to win their other two games while Saudi Arabia lost their other two games. Mexico could have qualified had they scored one more goal or if Poland had conceded another goal. The edge was provided by Szczesny as he saved two penalties, including one against Argentina (awarded extremely generously) despite a pretty good attempt by Messi, while Ochoa saved only one penalty, against Poland, with the Lewandowski attempt being very average.
Group D saw France claim first place after winning their first two games, and fielding bench warmers like Guendouzi in their last game that they lost to Tunisia, while a valid goal at the death by Griezmann was ludicrously chalked off. The second place was claimed by Australia who beat Denmark 1-0 in their last game after beating Tunisia 1-0 in their second game. An equalizer by Denmark would have qualified Tunisia, but Denmark failed to score and Tunisia was thus eliminated.
Group E saw Japan beat Germany 2-1, lose to Costa Rica 0-1, then win against Spain 2-1 to top the group. Spain and Germany drew 1-1, and they both beat Costa Rica, but by a much larger margin for Spain (who claimed second spot) as compared to Germany.
Group F saw Canada lose all their games but Morocco also beat Belgium to claim first place while Belgium could not score against Croatia to qualify, and the Croatians were thus able to claim second place.
Group G saw Brazil win their first two games but an ineffective performance against Cameroon, whereby only Martinelli looked eager to win while several benchwarmers like Alves did very little, ultimately saw an unlikely victory for the African team thanks to a single goal at the death. The deciding game for the second place involved Switzerland and Serbia, whereby the Helvetic outfit led 1-0, was behind 1-2, but ended up winning 3-2, in an encounter that saw many yellow cards.
Group H saw Portugal win their first game controversially against Ghana, with a penalty given to CR7 that should have been a yellow card for simulation, and the Portuguese won also their second game. Second place should have gone to Ghana or Uruguay with the latter winning 2-0 in the last game but South Korea beat Portugal in their last game, edging Uruguay shockingly on goals scored.
Final standings after the end of the group round:
ben from portsmouth 37 (5)
billvacation 35 (3)
Seidman 34 (4)
Ray from Norfolk 33 (3)
Sonny from Suffolk 30 (4)
skinnejay 22 (2)
hansdampf 16 (2)
Upcoming schedule: Round of 16: Saturday December 3 through Tuesday December 6:
Netherlands - USA
Argentina - Australia
Japan - Croatia
Brazil - South Korea
England - Senegal
France - Poland
Morocco - Spain
Portugal - Switzerland
COYG! We have eight Arsenal players still involved: Ramsdale and Saka with England, Jesus and Martinelli with Brazil, Turner with the USNMT, Tomiyasu with Japan, Saliba with France, and finally Xhaka who captains Switzerland. Partey's Ghana was eliminated while White left his teammates and went back home for personal reasons.