Three things we learned on Sunday at the World Cup

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Against Switzerland, Coutinho’s goal was a beauty and there were a handful of close calls towards the end.

PIC: Philippe Coutinho scored the opener in the 20th minute against Switzerland on Sunday. (AFP)

2018 WORLD CUP

Sunday’s results:

GROUP E
Costa Rica 0  Serbia  1
Brazil  1  Swizterland 1

GROUP F
Germany 0   Mexico  1

Germany and Brazil both failed to get off to winning starts on Sunday while Harry Kane talked up England’s chances ahead of their opener against Tunisia.

AFP looks at three talking points from another dramatic day at the World Cup in Russia.

Holders in trouble

Germany have not failed to make it beyond the opening round of a World Cup since 1938, but Joachim Loew’s side now risk following then-holders Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) in exiting at the first hurdle.

A much younger German side swept Mexico aside 4-1 at last year’s Confederations Cup and Joachim Loew’s faith in his old guard looked misplaced against the speed of Mexico’s counter-attack.

 

There were warning signs for the world champions before defeat in Moscow — the 2-1 win friendly win over Saudi Arabia is now Germany’s only win in their past seven games.

Even if Loew’s men recover against South Korea and Sweden to reach the knockout phase, their route back to the Luzhniki Stadium for the final in four weeks’ time could now be much tougher, with Brazil their likely opponents in the last 16.

Flat Brazil held by Swiss

Brazil might feel themselves unlucky to have joined the roster of favourites who have failed to win their opening game, which now includes Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal.

Steven Zuber clearly pushed Miranda in the back before heading in Switzerland’s equaliser in Rostov but Brazil could hardly claim a 1-1 draw was a particularly unfair result.

 

Philippe Coutinho’s goal was a beauty and there were a handful of close calls towards the end but otherwise Brazil lacked the rhythm and creativity expected of a team boasting so many attacking talents.

A point is certainly not a disaster but Tite’s side will surely have to improve.

Confident Kane

Harry Kane could be accused of inviting pressure.

England’s captain was certainly not holding back in the last press conference on Sunday before their opening game against Tunisia, as he vowed to show his talent to the world and said “for sure, Ronaldo’s put me under a bit of pressure” in the race for the Golden Boot.

For some, Kane is risking leaving himself open to criticism if he does not back up his words with actions but clearly the striker believes a brave and bullish approach off the pitch can translate into the same sort of performances on it.

Kane’s self-belief has been a driving force behind his surge into the world’s elite group of strikers. He, and England, must now deliver.

 

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