The first matchday of the World Cup qualifying campaign is in the books. There were a few surprising results from the large number of fixtures that took place over two days. Here are three takeaways from the Matchday One results.
World Cup Qualifying: Three Takeaways From the Opening Fixtures
World Cup Finalists Fail to Win
It was not the best start for the two 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists. France were held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine at the Stade de France and Croatia fell 1-0 to Slovenia. Both countries remain capable of winning their respective groups, but it appears they might encounter more tests than other European giants might face.
For Croatia, their defeat will be of more concern as they have now lost six of their last seven fixtures. With Russia paired with Croatia in Group H, automatic qualification to the World Cup is certainly not a given for Croatia. They will need to ensure they pick up all three points in their upcoming matches against Cyrpus and Malta. Any more dropped points during the Match international schedule will set them back in their quest to top the group.
France were unlucky not to earn all three points against Ukraine. They had plenty of chances to score a second goal and the own goal from Presnel Kimpembe was an unfortunate deflection. Overall, this result shouldn’t be too much of a concern as it does need to be taken into account that it’s been four months since France last played a competitive international fixture. In the coming matches against Kazakhstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Les Blues should get back to winning ways.
Turkey Stun the Netherlands
It was a goal-filled match between Turkey and the Netherlands as Burak Yilmaz’s hat-trick propelled Turkey to a shocking 4-2 victory. This was certainly a setback for Frank de Boer’s side, who will be looking to make it back to the World Cup Finals after missing out in 2018. It appeared the Netherlands were back on track to becoming a force in world football after a strong performance in the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League but this result shows it will not be an easy task to get back to the World Cup.
Germany Remain Undefeated in World Cup Qualifying
According to OptaFranz, Germany have won their last 17 World Cup qualifying matches, which is a new record in their national team history. This has been an incredible display of consistency and dominance when it comes to the qualifying campaign.
In their 3-0 victory over Iceland on Matchday One, Die Mannschaft were clinical when it came to finishing and it appears their winning ways will continue. Although Joachim Low will not be at the helm for the duration of the qualifying campaign, the Germans should have little trouble winning their group when a new manager is named.