Iran vs Nigeria Was Rubbish And More Round One Of The World Cup Taught Us

The first round of the group stages is over. After 49 goals in 16 games, we fans have been spoilt by exciting comebacks, unexpected thrashings and, thankfully, only the one, terribly boring, 0-0. Here's what we learnt along the way.
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The first round of the group stages is over. After 49 goals in 16 games, we fans have been spoilt by exciting comebacks, unexpected thrashings and, thankfully, only the one, terribly boring, 0-0. Here's what we learnt along the way.

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1 - Being better on paper doesn't guarantee you an easy win

Belgium vs Algeria didn't exactly pan out how the football hipsters expected. Yes, Belgium won, but it was a laborious struggle for the Red Devils. Algeria taking the lead early on due to a silly mistake from Vertonghen threw a spanner in the works and surprised many. It then took 50 minutes for everyone's favourite dark horses to get back on track. Funnily enough, out of all the players capable of making the difference in Belgium's squad, it was Manchester United scapegoat Marouane Fellaini who stepped up and, from a delightful De Bruyne cross, got Belgium back on track with a clever header. Algeria deserve a lot of credit for frustrating the group favourites and very nearly winning a point. Alas, it wasn't to be. They say that the pen is mightier than the sword. Not really sure what the sword is here, but the pen (& paper) just about scraped it.

2 - Failure to take chances can prove costly

It's fair to say that all of us already knew this, but it's been made even more apparent during this World Cup. Let's start with the most obvious one. Ghana's performance as a whole against the USA was not worthy of a loss, but when you only managed to get 8.7% of your shots on target (2 out of 23), you can't really expect to win either. Another example is Spain vs the Netherlands. As was pointed out on the BBC (Alan Shearer, I believe), if David Silva beats Cillessen and puts Spain 2-0 up, it's game over. However, he didn't, giving Louis Van Gaal's team some belief and eventually leading to Van Persie scoring one of the goals of the tournament thus far. The rest, as they say, is history.

3 - Kicking lumps out of an entire team only gets you one red card

I'm sure a lot of English fans will have loved watching Honduras physically assault France, but even they will have to admit that the referee was atrocious for the vast majority of that game. Pogba's outburst was probably worthy of a red card, even after being stamped on repeatedly four or five times by Wilson Palacios. The latter eventually got sent off, but three or four other Honduran players could have easily ended up taking an early bath. What made it even worse was the fact that every time France reciprocated with a slightly-stronger-than-usual tackle, the Hondurans reacted by perfuming a good four or five rolls. If you're going to try and be hard, then be hard and take whatever comes your way. Don't dish it out and then complain when someone retaliates.

4 - If a fixture looks like it's going to be boring, it probably will be

Sorry Iran and Nigeria fans, but no one expected your clash to be the best game of the tournament. Luckily enough, the vast majority of the games at this World Cup have been fantastic, but Iran vs Nigeria brought everybody back down to earth. Ask anyone to describe one exciting moment from that game and they'll probably tell you what happened in Game Of Thrones this week instead - that’s what I would do, anyway. Game Of Thrones season four finale > Iran vs Nigeria. Sorry.

5 - Thierry Henry and Clarence Seedorf have the best ongoing bromance ever

Too many times have we witnessed forced banter during football shows, but not anymore. Cardigans, broad smiles, interesting anecdotes, insightful analysis and an on-screen chemistry most Hollywood directors dream of, the BBC have found the perfect partnership. Their mutual respect is apparent every time they bless us mere mortals with a tale from days gone by and Henry's put down of Robbie Savage was a moment many will treasure for years to come. It's a shame both are still involved in the footballing world as they would be the ideal replacements for half the Match of the Day team, because I’m pretty sure Clarence Seedorf - who never played in England domestically - knows more about the Premiership than Mark Lawrenson. Even if he doesn't, he's still nicer to listen to. Maybe we should start a petition. They always work, right? I mean, look at Tom Cleverley. He's not in the England squad, is he?

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