If I had waited for the results of Group G and H first matches it would not give players long to submit predictions before Matchday 2 starts.
So, we will predict groups A – now.
On Thursday night or Friday morning then we will predict the 2 games for the last 2 groups (as well as an update on the tables)
Qatar 0-2 Senegal
The hosts played like a team (especially their keeper) where the pressure of the occasion got to them, most of them playing the biggest fixture of their lives.
In 2010 they had approx. 200 registered professional footballers. A government-initiated scheme now means they have over 6000 with those in power naturally not wanting their nation to be humiliated in front of the world.
They could have been had Ecuador not took their foot off the peddle.
They are the first hosts to lose their opening game, and need to improve dramatically to be only the second to exit at the group stage.
I can’t work out if it were just nerves or simply there is a gulf in quality?
They don’t have the 12th man of a home side like a 2002 South Korea or 2018 Russia.
The stadium was half empty in the second half.
Holland 1-1 Ecuador
I sensed Ecuador had another gear to go up to in the opening match but decided to reserve energy (possibly with Valencia carrying a niggle)?
It was sad looking at Holland’s attack the other day compared to previous Dutch side at World Cups, although Depay might be fit enough to start here.
Wales 1-0 Iran
As I predicted the conditions got to Wales and fitness seemed to an issue over the entire 90 minutes.
Iran generally can be hard to break down, even if they didn’t show it against England.
Your still facing a team though days after they conceded 6!
Conditioning is Wales biggest issue.
Might be too tired by the time they play England, but 4 points might be enough?
England 3-0 USA
England just don’t start World Cups like we did against Iran.
All 5 scorers scored their first world Cup goals, not bad for a team over reliant on Harry Kane.
With a Grealish, Foden and Rashford coming off the bench, it highlights Southgate’s squad depth.
USA are a poor team, but it would be very England like to make hard work of things.
Saying that I said that about their first fixture, didn’t I?
Poland 1-1 S Arabia
How can I predict what S Arabia show up?
Was their win on Tuesday once in a lifetime or will that confidence carry them through the weekend?
Will they gamble with the high press which got them their historic win, or do they now scrap for a point which could be enough?
I just don’t think Poland will tactically be as naïve as Argentina, but the pressure might get to them.
Plus, Saudi Arabia are Qatar’s noisy neighbours so this will be like an away game for the Poles.
Argentina 1-1 Mexico
While of course the attention and spotlight was always going to be unbearable on Messi, I truly thought Argentina had found a system where they were not over reliant on their number 10.
Yet as soon as they faced adversity on Tuesday, they panicked, players hid, Messi came too deep to get the ball and they couldn’t do the basic stuff.
So, where a defeat should be rationalised as a first defeat in 36 and therefore zero need to panic, the scrutiny in South America has been huge and based on what I saw in midweek, I’m not sure the Argentines have got the personality to handle it?
Tunisia 1-0 Australia
Tunisia are another side who had such vocal support they can make their fixtures home advantage.
Can win if they show enough ambition.
France 1-1 Denmark
The Danes are many folks dark horses (including mine) for the tournament.
Yet the doubt remains can they be prolific enough in the final third?
They were not against Tunisia and that puts them under pressure against the World Champions.
No player has now scored more goals for France then Giroud, a player who’s made a living out of proving people wrong.
I know Gooners who defend Eddie Nketiah yet mocked Giroud!
Japan 1-0 Costa Rica
Honestly Costa Rica do have a reputation for being hard to break down.
That’s in tatters and I can’t see how that can fix their confidence in the space of a few days?
This is all about how Japan handle the unfamiliar position of being favourites, and the pressure of knowing a win they are practically through.
Spain 1-0 Germany
By the time they kick off Germany might be in a must win situation.
Given how they handled the pressure 4 years ago, and you’re playing a team who just scored 7, I’ll go for Spain.
Croatia 1- 2 Canada
As I envisaged, Canada’s pace on the counterattack got to Belgium’s old legs and there were signs of age getting to Croatia as well when they faced Morocco.
That’s why I always felt this wasn’t a bad group for the Canadians because their pace is up against tired defenders.
Only thing Canada lacks is that quality in the final third.
As Mikel Arteta once said, you can play well in between both areas but it’s your quality in the boxes that matter.
Canada were outstanding up to their finishing, while conceding by a direct ball.
If they play like that again, they are due luck.
Belgium 2-1 Morocco
Can’t be too harsh as there are worse things than winning when not playing well.
Belgium’s goal on Wednesday was the first of the tournament to be truly against the run of play.
So, if I could see that Belgium might not have the legs for this World Cup, how could Martinez not?
He’s never been a manager who can fix a failing defence but his reliance on experience might cost him.
They have enough know how to go back to basics and get out of this group but in terms of being contenders, it’s a tournament too far for too many Belgians
It’s a manager’s job to identify that…
CALLING ALL ARSENAL FANS! Anyone who would like to contribute an Article or Video opinion piece on JustArsenal, please contact us through this link…
Watch Jesus and Martinelli training with the Brilliant Brazilians in Qatar.
Please enjoy, watch and subscribe to JustArsenalVids