We’re a few days into the World Cup and an interesting narrative has emerged.
So far, the pre-tournament favourites have underwhelmed with the Brazil, Argentina and Spain settling for draws while Germany were upset by a dynamic Mexico side.
France may have beaten Australia in the end but their performance also left much to be desired.
So which of the fancied sides have endured the most worrying start so far?
Fernando Hierro’s side didn’t win their thrilling opener against Portugal but they weren’t actually that bad.
The 2010 champions played some trademark football, with Isco and Diego Costa proving their worth in a competitive squad.
They just got Ronaldo’d — and that can happen to anyone.
But for a rare David De gea shot-stopping error, Spain would have got the best of their neighbours.
Nothing much to worry about as their style should be enough to breach the defences of Morocco and Iran.
The bookies’ favourites were frustrated by a resilient Switzerland team in their opener.
Philippe Coutinho reaffirmed his status as one of the best long-range shooters in world football but the Samba boys were left wanting after their opening goal.
For all their flair, Brazil failed to carve out enough clearcut chances.
Neymar exhibited his dribbling skills but succeeded only in drawing fouls rather than outright beating his man.
Tite’s side looked balanced and will be hoping to shrug off the early-tournament nerves before their next game.
Given their main rivals’ problems, France will be happy with a 2-1 win in their opening game.
However, the nature of their performance will have concerned a few fans.
There was a noticeable disconnect between midfield and the talented front three of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.
Paul Pogba failed to appear in the right pockets of space while Corentin Tolisso displayed less ambition than we’re accustomed to seeing from him in a Bayern Munich shirt.
A blend of VAR, luck and good old-fashioned sh*thousery just about allowed them to sneak past an unfancied Australia side.
Peru and Denmark will be confident of a competitive game when they get their chance against Didier Deschamps’ team.
An off-day for Lionel Messi means an off-day for Argentina.
Even so, they could have beaten Iceland had the Barcelona legend converted his second-half penalty.
The smallest nation to ever feature at a World Cup once again exhibited their defensive organisation and discipline.
Jorge Sampaoli has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal when it comes to attacking talent and so watching his side fail to break down a deep block would have stirred his concerns.
With zero points to their name, the defending champions are the standout losers from the first round of fixtures so far.
Mexico could well be this tournament’s dark horses after a dynamic display endeared them to neutrals everywhere.
As for Germany, the nature of the defeat was as bad as the result.
Other countries would be wise to mirror Mexico’s tactics and nullify the impact of Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil.
The Germans’ mechanics look uncharacteristically flawed — though it’s early days.