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17 out of the 32 teams are lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Uruguay, Sweden and Senegal were the only three teams in 4-4-2 formation and the trio managed to pick out victories. Morocco and Iran, apart from Belgium, showed courage in going out in a 3-4-3 set-up while playing against each other though Morocco went down to an own goal.
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While big teams have famously struggled, the so-called smaller teams have seemingly cracked the code. It is largely because they have kept things compact and simple. International coaches don’t get as much time with their teams as club coaches and writer Jonathan Wilson argues that it is much easier to organize a compact defence rather than a fluid attack.
While they have not exactly parked the bus, they have benefitted from perfect organization and tighter defences. That has led to a lot of goals in the first week coming off set-pieces and penalty-kick conversions. So far, there has been four free-kick goals more than in the entire tournament four years back.
World Cup team of the Opening Round