News analysis

Football: A Cup of shocks as favourites succumb to pressure and underdogs soak up pleasure

Cup shocks as lesser teams show heart while favourites succumb to weight of expectation

Artem Dzyuba of Russia shows his delight after converting a first-half penalty to equalise against Spain in their round-of-16 match in Moscow on Sunday. The hosts held the 2010 world champions Spain at bay and went on to stun them 4-3 in the penalty
Artem Dzyuba of Russia shows his delight after converting a first-half penalty to equalise against Spain in their round-of-16 match in Moscow on Sunday. The hosts held the 2010 world champions Spain at bay and went on to stun them 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out to continue their fairy-tale run.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Artem Dzyuba of Russia shows his delight after converting a first-half penalty to equalise against Spain in their round-of-16 match in Moscow on Sunday. The hosts held the 2010 world champions Spain at bay and went on to stun them 4-3 in the penalty

This has been the best World Cup I've seen, because you just cannot predict who will win.

It has been fantastic from the first big upset when Mexico beat Germany 1-0 in the opening Group F fixture. We also saw Australia hold France until very late in the game, and Iceland, the smallest country at the World Cup, holding two-time winners Argentina 1-1.

Please or to continue reading the full article.

Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month

  • Latest headlines and exclusive stories
  • In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content
  • Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months*

*Terms and conditions apply.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2018, with the headline 'Big guns face the pressure, underdogs soak up pleasure'. Print Edition | Subscribe