1- Argentina is a team so vulnerable to upsets. During the qualifiers, they drew home games with minnows Venezuela and Peru; and lost away to Bolivia complicating their route to Russia. These kind of results mean teams always face Argentina feeling they have a chance. Jorge Sampaoli’s Pumas no longer have the fear factor working in their favour, a serious impediment at a tournament like the World Cup.
2- Possession without penetration is nothing. Iceland’s ability to conjure up a result despite having less than thirty percent possession proves there is a route to victory however little time a team has the ball. Portugal almost took Spain to the cleaners using a similar direct approach.
3- Sergio Aguero may have scored Argentina’s opening goal but he is no lone striker. If Sampaoli wants the 1978 and 1986 winners to avoid falling prey to Russia 2018’s Group of Death, he must device a way of accommodating starting both Gonzalo Higuain and Aguero with Messi just behind them. The Pumas almost none existent penalty box penetration was alarming.
4- Pace a great ground leveller: In their 3-3 draw with Spain, Portugal proved that pace can atone for a team’s technical shortfalls. Fernando Santos’ European champions were able to repeatedly trouble Spain’s back four using the pace and raw power of hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo and Goncalo Guedes. For a while, Spain appeared as vulnerable as the Barcelona side that fell 0-7 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in 2013.
5- Cristiano Ronaldo has stolen the march on Lionel Messi in the race for this year’s Ballon D’Or. The Real Madrid star man’s swashbuckling hat-trick, stronger performances in the Champions League and generally superior form in 2018 mean he could get to a sixth world player of the year award before his rival