The Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers kicked off in midweek across Europe and some of the games produced sights to behold while the three we had our eyes on, saw the overwhelming favorites fail to live up to expectations.
Two of the underdogs in these games came ready and snatched a point from their away fixtures on day 1 against some of Europe’s powerhouses whilst one managed to escape a whitewashing, ensuring that they had a respectable scoreline although they lost.
FRANCE VS UKRAINE
Let’s hope that France have fully gotten past the era of struggling to make it to the World Cup via qualifiers despite the stars they have on parade. Let’s just hope that this is a one-off and that they will come good in the next game.
The French team were held 1 all by Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine at Stade de France as Les Bleus yet again made another slow start to a World Cup qualifying campaign.
Didier Deschamps started with a strong team with France being heavy favorites to win, coupled with playing at home. However, this was not the case as they were held despite dominating the game.
Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring for France before an own goal by Presnel Kimpembe gave hope to the visitors who were content with sitting back and holding on till the end of the game for a precious point. After all, I guess they would have gladly taken a point before the game.
Well, the group is still open as the likes of Bosnia and Finland in the same group all have 1 point with Kazakhstan yet to play in Group D. Regardless, Didier Deschamps’ men remain favorites to come out tops.
SPAIN VS GREECE
This game produced another shock result as Luis Enrique’s men failed to secure all three points at home against Greece.
Alvaro Morate scored the opener for Spain before a penalty conceded by substitute Inigo Martinez was smashed in by Anastasios Bakasetas to ensure that the home side started the campaign on a low.
These two games made bookies smile this week as a lot of folks didn’t see these results coming. With 1 point garnered by Spain and Greece, Sweden currently top Group B with 3 points with Kosovo yet to play. We’ll look forward to the next round of fixtures as Spain travel to face Georgia.
PORTUGAL VS AZERBAIJAN
There were various suggestions on how Cristiano Ronaldo would bang in goals in this game, giving credence to the supposed school of thought that he loves scoring against the minnows.
However, this was not the case as Portugal could only hit the back of the net once amid loads of chances and total domination of play. The game was played in the Juventus Stadium in Italy due to travel restrictions to Portugal.
Funny enough, Portugal needed an own goal to win this game after Maksim Medvedev fumbled the ball into his own net after a misunderstanding with goalkeeper Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev in the 37th minute. Azerbaijan were put under pressure but managed to hold on and escape with just a 1 nil loss.
Portugal sit second in Group A below Serbia who currently top the table, However, they are above the likes of Ireland and Luxembourg. The latter is yet to play.
It’s still early days but these three powerhouses are favorites to win their groups and we look forward to seeing if they will.