Arsenal’s Swiss duo impress, but Ozil reverts to type against Mexico
With a week of the World Cup now completed, it’s fair to say that Arsenal’s representatives at the tournament have endured mixed fortunes to date.
Mohamed Eleny already knows he is heading home after Egypt lost their opening two games, while Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell were unable to prevent Nigeria and Costa Rica being defeated in their respective opening matches.
Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck are yet to see any game time for Spain and England, but Arsenal’s other quartet of players in Russia all started the country’s first group matches.
Read on as we assess how the foursome fared in those games.
Granit Xhaka & Stephan Lichtsteiner – Switzerland
Xhaka and Lichtsteiner both produced steady performances as Switzerland held Brazil to a surprise 1-1 draw in Group E.
Dubbed as one of the World Cup’s bad boys after being sent off eight times since the last tournament, Xhaka overcame a shaky start to help the Swiss grab an unexpected point against the Samba Kings.
Lichtsteiner got forward well down the right flank with some excellent interplay with Xerdan Shaqiri, opening up plenty of spaces for crosses. However, Marcelo’s defending was a stubborn resistance that Lichsteiner struggled to break down.
Xhaka and Lichtsteiner face Serbia and Costa Rica in their next two games, leaving the duo with a great chance to reach the last 16.
Mesut Ozil – Germany
There was a lot of talk ahead of the tournament that Ozil was a different proposition in a Germany shirt, but there was little evidence of that against Mexico.
Ozil’s languid style creates plenty of controversial opinions amongst pundits and his half-hearted attempt at a “tackle” on Hirving Lozano in the build-up to Mexico’s winning goal was a perfect showcase of his inadequacies.
Germany still have to play Sweden and South Korea in Group F and there is no guarantee that the reigning World Cup champions will progress to the knockout stage.
David Ospina – Colombia
There were less than three minutes on the clock when Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez was shown a straight red card for a deliberate handball inside the penalty area against Japan.
It was the second-fastest sending off in World Cup history – Jose Alberto Batista’s dismissal for Uruguay against Scotland in 1986 after 54 seconds was the quickest – and Shinji Kagawa didn’t miss the chance to put Japan ahead from the spot.
Colombia equalised before the break, but despite Ospina producing a couple of excellent saves in the second half they were eventually beaten 2-1.
However, if they can keep eleven men on the pitch and show the same spirit against Poland and Senegal in their next two games, Colombia can still get out of Group H.