South Korea played hard against Sweden but could not score or prevent Sweden from scoring. South Korea’s defense was strong for much of the match, but they had problems in the penalty box. This ultimately led to a penalty, allowing Sweden to score the only goal of the match. South Korea were lucky the referee was lenient, as he could have called multiple penalties throughout the match. Overall, this match was very physical on both ends. Both teams committed a grand total of 41 fouls. South Korea were able to hold their own defensively and made some nice offensive plays, but were not able to get past the Swedish defense. The organization in the back has been a problem for them for quite some time. Tottenham star Son Heung Min was a surprising disappointment, as he did less and less as the match progressed. Sweden had many opportunities to score but were unable to capitalize on them. The fact that both of these teams struggled so greatly today is not encouraging as they look towards their matches against powerhouses Germany and Mexico.
Belgium were able to beat Panama by a comfortable margin in Panama’s World Cup debut. However, because Panama are such a weak team, it is difficult to determine if Belgium can go far in this tournament. For much of the beginning of the match, Belgium made many sloppy plays. For example, Belgium had a great opportunity to make an offensive attack but defender Toby Alderweireld kicked the ball out of bounds for no apparent reason. Their passing was not exceptional either, but it was enough to get them the victory. Dries Mertens’ beautiful goal allowed Belgium to get things going, and Romelu Lukaku had a wonderful match, scoring two goals. Panama’s defense did enough in the first half, but there was no stopping the Belgians in the last 45 minutes of the match. Panama were playing very physically throughout the match: by the 50th minute, four of their players had been issued yellow cards. Once Belgium scored there first goal, Panama became frustrated and even more physical, which ended up not working out for them at all. Panama is most likely to leave the tournament without attaining a single point, and even though they are a weak team, Belgium will be confident moving forward, especially since by the time they won, they were the only team of the top 16 ranked squads to come out with a win.
England started off their match on a strong note. Mouez Hassen, Tunisia’s goalkeeper, suffered an injury in the first five minutes of the match and had to be taken out. The Tunisians looked scared and disorganized, so many expected them to lose by a good margin. However, Tunisia took advantage of the situation in around the 20th minute of the match, when England became disheveled. As a result, they had many offensive opportunities but could not score any goals. Their confidence grew when English defender Kyle Walker fouled Fakhreddine Ben Youssef in the penalty box. England were very lucky Walker was only issued a yellow card, as he could have easily been sent off for the foul he committed. Tunisia’s greatest mistake and regret came in stoppage time, when Harry Kane scored England’s winning goal during a corner kick. The Tunisian defenders mistakenly left Kane open at the far post, allowing him to score with an easy header. This was the fourth stoppage goal scored in the World Cup, thus far. Even though England emerged victorious, they definitely did not look impressive. Raheem Sterling and Ashley Young did not play well at all. Passes were continuously cut off and the team ruined several offensive opportunities. Trent Alexander-Arnold should be given a chance to start in upcoming matches. Despite his young age, he could really change the course of a match and pace of play due to his speed. Tunisia must not give up yet. They will most likely beat Panama and if they hold Belgium to a draw, they definitely have a chance to make it out of their group, especially if England continue to play as they did today. Tunisia’s defense was very impressive today and if they hope to go far, they just need to focus on capitalizing on scoring opportunities.