June 19, 2018 9:49 pm

Rick Zamperin: Plenty of highs and lows at FIFA World Cup

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his third goal with a free kick during the Group B match between Portugal and Spain in FIFA World Cup action at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, June 15, 2018.

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Now that all 32 nations have played at least one match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it’s the perfect time to look back at the highlights and call out the poor performers.

Let’s start with the host Russians, who rifled past Saudia Arabia and Egypt by a combined score of 8-1 in their opening two games.

Russia has gone from afterthoughts to the talk of the tournament, although we will see how they fare against Uruguay on matchday three.

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Reigning European champions Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a spectacular showing, but they will both need to tighten up at the back if they hope to advance deep in the knockout stage.

England and France were supposed to win their opening games, and they did, but both needed late goals to get the result.

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Belgium announced its arrival with a lopsided victory, but it came at the expense of World Cup newcomer Panama, so the jury is still out as to whether the Red Devils will actually live up to their talent.

South American behemoths Brazil and Argentina – two nations that have won a combined seven World Cups – both provided a big downer after they were held to 1-1 draws vs. Switzerland and Iceland, respectively.

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Mexico certainly made the biggest statement of the World Cup with its 1-0 win over defending champion Germany, who own the biggest black mark after the opening set of games.

And while I am still on the fence with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), I can say that Portuguese megastar Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick against Spain, the surprising play of Russia, and the glut of goals from set pieces have been the biggest stars thus far.

And we are just getting started.

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