The first round of matches at the 2022 World Cup are now complete and an interesting pattern is beginning to emerge. Come of the ‘bigger’ teams, such as Argentina and Germany, both high on the list of favourites to lift the trophy, have suffered surprising opening defeats to Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively, while others have had no such problems.
This means it has been mixed results for Manchester City’s numerous stars at the festival of football. Let’s take a look and see how they’re doing.
With no blues featuring for Ecuador or Qatar, our first look at blues in action came as England faced Iran in the Group B opener. John Stones was the only starter for City, partnering Harry Maguire in the centre of defence, while Phil Foden and Jack Grealish came on after 71 minutes.
And it was the latter that got England’s final goal of a 6-2 victory over the Iranians. Jude Bellingham, who is still in his teens, as the commentator liked to remind us very few minutes in case we all forgot, scored the first with future blue Bukayo Saka getting the second. Former blue Raheem Sterling made it 3-0 before half-time and Sako underlined his qualities to play for Guardiola with a fourth. Marcus Rashford hit England’s fifth and Grealish tapped home number six, before performing a promised celebration for young Finlay Fisher, who the star had previously met.
Iran got two goals but that’s enough about that.
Nathan Ake completed the full 90 minutes of the Netherlands 2-0 win over Senegal, forming a back three of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt. The Dutch left it late to gain the win, opening the scoring in the 84th minute before sealing the victory in the 99th minute.
Julian Alvarez came on as a 59th minute substitute but was unable to stop Argentina from crashing to a shock defeat in their opening game with Saudi Arabia. Lionel Messi had given the South American side the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty and had two first-half goals ruled out. Saudi Arabia produced an inspired second-half performance to inflict Argentina’s first defeat in three years. Former blue Nicolas Otamendi also played the full 90 minutes.
The next blue to feature for his national side was Ilkay Gundogan, who scored a 33rd-minute penalty against Germany. Mr Whippy was withdrawn on 67 minutes and Japan launched a stunning comeback to beat the four times world champions 2-1.
However, the real stars of the show were the Japanese supporters who, once they had savoured the moment of beating Germany, then stayed behind to clean up after themselves, something which is ingrained into the Japanese culture. If only all supporters acted like that.
City had two representatives playing for Spain in the form of Aymeric Laporte and Rodri, while former blue Ferran Torres grabbed a brace. The two City stars kept a clean sheet at the back as Spain romped to a 7-0 win over Costa Rica.
Finally, Kevin de Bruyne entered the world stage as his Belgium side scraped past Canada thanks to a 1-0 win. Belgium were lacklustre and wasteful against the Canadians in the opening Group F game, where F should stand for Forgettable - Morocco v Croatia ended 0-0.
A team that rarely gets mentioned with City players, Switzerland contains the incredible Manual Akanji in their side and the City man was booked in the second half of Switzerland’s 1-0 win over Cameroon.
The team that contains three blues in the shape of Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias and we’d normally be routing for them. However, this is the team that contains Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes, so you understand the quandary we’re in.
It was the latter who won and scored a second-half penalty, only for Ghana to equalise. One-time City target Joao Felix restored Portugal’s lead and the Portuguese increased their lead two minutes later. Ghana pulled a goal back to Portugal hung on.
Ederson was an unused sub as Brazil beat Serbia 2-0. Former blue Gabriel Jesus made a second half appearance with 11 minutes to go.
As it stands
If the positions remain as they are, Julian Alvarez and Ilkay Gundogan will be joining Erling Haaland in getting an extended break, while the rest will be off to the last 16. It can all change though after the next round.