Get “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C cued up, everyone, because, starting today, I am writing obituaries to the teams we’ve lost in the World Cup.
Ramble of the Day
There is something so sudden the earliest of World Cup eliminations. We spend years building up to the biggest spectacle in sports, counting down the days like some of us do in anticipation of Christmas. We speculate, day and night, about how the events will shake out, and somehow, the tournament finally comes. The opening few days are intoxicating to the point where it feels like fun football without a catch.
But, as Egypt proved on Tuesday, the other shoe can drop very quickly. For months after the nation’s qualification, many began predicting its team’s ability to surprise the world. Yet, once the tournament began, Egypt had little more than a weekend to enjoy its status. On Friday, the team marked its first World Cup match in almost 30 years, and by Tuesday, they were the first team eliminated. For at least a few more days, they will wonder what could have been, focusing primarily on Mohamed Salah, the many hyped to do everything, but unfortunately was limited in his accomplishments.
Egypt’s exit was quickly followed up by Morocco’s the next day, whose team’s effort was much more admirable. Led by the active Hakim Ziyech, Morocco was one of the tournament’s surprise bright spots, as they came with an entertaining pressing game that few expect out of national teams. Unfortunately, Morocco was also blessed — or cursed, if you will — with some of the World Cup’s worst finishing; despite their many attempts at goal against both Iran and Portugal, they walked away 1-0 losers on both occasions.
The final elimination of the day came through Saudi Arabia, who entered its first World Cup in 12 years memorably. Unfortunately for the Green Falcons, being memorable meant allowing hosts Russia to score five goals on opening day, showing off an inability to defend. They leave with the tag of being the worst team at this edition of the World Cup, though at least managed a respectable 1-0 loss to Uruguay before officially booking the plane back home.
Tomorrow, Australia and Peru are up for elimination. Friday, you may see some words about them.
tl;dr: The first three of 31 paragraphs remembering the eliminated teams at the World Cup.
Links of the Day
Iranian women were allowed in the same stadium as men for the first time in 38 years as the nation hosted a watch party for the national team’s 1-0 loss to Spain in Tehran.
FIFA have fined Mexico $10,400 after fans used a homophobic chant during the team’s match against Germany. The Mexico Football Federation has been sanctioned on 12 other occasions in regards to the same chant in the last four years alone.
England manager Gareth Southgate dislocated his shoulder while running on Wednesday. He will not miss any matches.
Transfer roundup: Leicester City have signed James Maddison from Norwich City; West Ham have added goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from Swansea; Juninho Bacuna has joined Huddersfield Town from FC Groningen
Today’s longer read: Jack Pitt-Brooke interviews former Tottenham youth player Massimo Luongo on Australia’s attempt to earn back the world’s respect for The Independent