LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil's Roberto Firmino during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Roberto Firmino features, Timo Werner and Germany stunned & Slaven Bilic shines yet again

Philippe Coutinho reminded us of his talents on Sunday, but Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Germany all struggled to kick on at the World Cup.

After four matches in a row on Saturday, the World Cup schedule outrageously only served up three the following day, which frankly isn’t good enough.

We were treated to another exciting day of action though, as the tournament goes from strength to strength.


The Good

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil's Philippe Coutinho Correia during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Right, let’s not be jealous because he left us for a more successful team: Coutinho is something else.

On an evening where Brazil failed to convince for large periods, Liverpool’s former hero scored a goal we have seen many times before.

Bending an outrageous 25-yard strike into the top corner, it was yet another beauty at this World Cup, and Coutinho was his country’s best player.

Roberto Firmino also made a late cameo, and the fact that he did more than Jesus in that short period suggests he should start the Selecao’s next game.

Earlier in the day, Mexico produced a fantastic performance, beating Germany 1-0 and becoming everyone’s second-favourite team (or favourite, for that matter) in the process.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Mexico's Hirving Lozano celebrates scoring the first goal during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Their blistering pace on the counter-attack felt like we were watching Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool all over again and the travelling fans made the occasion even more spectacular.

Mexico have never reached a World Cup quarter-final in which they haven’t been the hosts—on this early evidence, this could be the year that changes.

Rafael Marquez became just the third man to play in five World Cups—Antonio Carbajal and Lothar Matthaus are the other two—which actually seems surprisingly few, considering he was seemingly playing in 1958!

A word of praise must also go to Aleksandar Kolarov, whose inch-perfect free-kick went straight into the running for Goal of the Tournament and inspired Serbia to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.


The Bad

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Germany's Timo Werner looks dejected after missing a chance during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it comes to Germany, the general consensus seems to be that they always turn up at major tournaments.

Someone must have forgotten to tell Joachim Low and his players that, as their opening game as holders ended in a spineless defeat.

They looked an old team, with players such as Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller particularly poor, and rumoured Liverpool target Timo Werner did almost nothing leading the line.

Another player of reported interest, Xherdan Shaqiri, also flattered to deceive for Switzerland against Brazil, often opting for the impossible rather than the simple.

Some of his tracking back also left a lot to be desired—if Klopp is considering signing him this summer, that will have to change drastically.

Don’t expect him to win the bleep test in pre-season.


The Bilic (Again)

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 29, 2017: West Ham United's manager Slaven Bilic reacts during the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Punditry needs a hero, and at this World Cup he goes by the name of Slaven Bilic.

While some of the individuals on offer range from unbearable (Mark Lawrenson) to tedious (Phil Neville) to downright weird (Glenn Hoddle), Bilic is insightful, humorous and a physical match for the almost unstable Roy Keane.

When asked to dissect a possible foul on Miranda in the lead up to Steven Zuber’s equaliser for Switzerland, Bilic brilliantly replied “to be fair, I don’t really care.”

It even made Keane smile, which is an almost impossible task.

Keep up the great work, Slaven—you’re almost single-handedly holding punditry together this summer. The others need to take a leaf out of his book.


Monday’s Matches

England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the International Friendly match at Elland Road, Leeds

With none of the big hitters managing to find top gear in their opening match, it’s time for England to entertain the world.

If you thought a pig just flew past your window, it probably did.

The Three Lions take on Tunisia, with Jordan Henderson expected to start and Trent Alexander-Arnold hoping to feature, as they aim to avoid yet another doomed campaign.

Prior to the evening’s entertainment, South Korea meet Sweden and Belgium face Panama, with Simon Mignolet the only Liverpool player who could potentially be involved. That seems unlikely, though.

Sweden vs. South Korea (Group F) – 1pm – ITV
Prediction: 2-1

Belgium vs. Panama (Group G) – 4pm – BBC
Prediction: 3-0

Tunisia vs. England (Group G) – 7pm – BBC
Prediction: 1-2

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