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World Cup winners & losers: Day 5

Day five of the 2022 World Cup wrapped up the first round of group stage fixtures as Group G and Group H joined the party. That has gone insanely quick!

Brazil and Portugal were the big guns in action, but neutrals were also intrigued by what Serbia and Uruguay could do, while Switzerland quietly went about their business and Ghana were determine to give a good account of themselves after not qualifying since 2014.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored a five World Cups / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Regardless of the circus that surrounded him coming into the World Cup because of that interview and his subsequent sour departure from Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo got exactly what he wanted against Ghana: he scored and Portugal won.

Ronaldo found the net in the first half of the 3-2 victory, only to see it disallowed. But he eventually got the ball rolling from the spot in the second half after earning the penalty himself.

It was also a goal at fifth World Cup for Ronaldo, making history as the first male player ever to achieve such a feat.

He really won’t care what any critics have to say.

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez is a shadow of his former self / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Uruguay’s 0-0 draw with South Korea was probably the first time that most people have seen Luis Suarez play since he left Atletico Madrid in May.

Sadly for the player, it wasn’t a pretty sight at all.

Suarez, who turns 36 in January was way, way off the pace of the game and was replaced after little more than an hour by the only slightly less old Edinson Cavani.

It remains to be seen if Suarez will keep his place when Uruguay face Portugal and we could be witnessing of the greatest players of his generation bow out of elite football with a whimper.

There is clear potential with Ghana

There is clear potential with Ghana / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Okay, so Ghana lost against Portugal, but there is plenty of potential for the Black Stars to do well in this tournament with some tweaks moving forward.

Otto Addo’s team kept a very talented Portugal side at bay until well into the second half. It was then only the fine margins of a penalty and two quick-fire goals that decided the five-goal thriller in the end.

The back-three flanked by wing-backs seemed to work well for the most part at keeping things tight, with Daniel Amartey particularly impressing. They have shielding quality in midfield with Thomas Partey and plenty of experience up front with Andre Ayew.

Ghana need to ensure that their main game-changers – Mohammed Kudus and Inaki Williams – have a platform to do their thing.

Kudus was guilty of coming too deep at times against Portugal, giving the ball away cheaply in bad areas, yet was a real threat in more advanced positions. Williams, meanwhile, didn’t get enough service for most of the contest, yet his quick thinking almost snatched Ghana a late point.

If Ghana can take the positives from this defeat into their upcoming games with South Korea and Uruguay, there is no reason they can’t reach the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2010.

Serbia are the 'dark horse' but struggled to lay a glove on Brazil

Serbia are the ‘dark horse’ but struggled to lay a glove on Brazil / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Serbia often get the ‘dark horse’ tag at international tournaments and they usually don’t do very well. Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, when they were still Serbia & Montenegro, they conceded only once in 10 qualifiers but then conceded 10 in three games at the finals and went home point-less.

Group stage exits followed in both 2010 and 2018.

Serbia are usually expected to be well organised at the back with a bit of flair up front that might be enough to get them results. But if you’re not that good, you’re not that good and no amount of hype will change that.

They held on against Brazil for an hour but were clearly second best and arguably could have been beaten more heavily than 2-0 in the end.

Neymar

Neymar suffered an injury against Serbia / Lars Baron/GettyImages

Neymar was kicked out of the 2014 World Cup when Brazil were on home soil for the first time since 1950 and expected to win. Without him, they slumped to the competition’s worst ever collapse in the semi-finals.

In 2018, he raced back to fitness after suffering a broken foot while playing for Paris Saint-Germain and earned as many headlines for histrionics as he did for his actual football. Brazil also got knocked out in the quarters.

In Brazil’s opener this time against Serbia, Neymar failed to get a shot on target and had to go off injured before the end of the game. It is not thought to be a tournament-ending problem, but if he’s trying to play through the pain and not fully fit in the games to come, it is unlikley to go well.

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