World Cup Daily: Messi's miss, VAR's Cup debut and eyes on Germany
An incident-packed Saturday at the World Cup was headlined by two costly penalty misses and the video-assistant-referee system (VAR) taking centre stage. Wasn't the advent of technology supposed to end drawn-out debates about refereeing decisions? Let's take a look.
The big story: Lionel Messi's penalty miss
As if there weren't already enough pressure on Lionel Messi before Argentina's opening World Cup clash against Iceland, Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick against Spain on Friday cranked expectations up another notch.
Despite being marked by three players -- or, to put it another way, 0.0009 percent of the Icelandic population -- Messi's moment arrived in the second half, when he was presented with the perfect chance to secure victory from the penalty spot.
It was Hannes Halldorsson who wrote himself into the headlines, though, denying the Barcelona star from 12 yards in what must be his finest achievement since directing the video for Iceland's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest.
A hurting Messi said he felt responsible for La Selección dropping points, following his fourth penalty miss in the past seven attempts for club and country.
He will have to pick himself up pretty quickly, as Argentina are in action again Tuesday, facing a Croatia side that cruised to a 2-0 victory against Nigeria.
Video of the day: How Messi and Ronaldo differ
The ESPN panel discuss how Messi and Ronaldo have differing roles for their national teams following the Argentine's costly penalty miss against Iceland.
ICYMI: Let's get this VAR-ty started
It didn't take long for football's technological revolution to impact the World Cup for the first time.
France were the team to profit, with Antoine Griezmann awarded a penalty for a trip by Australia's Josh Risdon. Reports that there were two videos for the officials to review -- one in which Griezmann was fouled and another in which he wasn't -- have yet to be confirmed.
Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk was frustrated by the call after his team gave a spirited performance in a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Peru's glorious failure
Peru could have played until next Tuesday and failed to score, such was their misfortune in a 1-0 loss to Denmark. The South American side carved open the Scandinavians with some sumptuous, free-flowing football but were left to rue Christian Cueva missing a VAR-assisted spot kick.
With supporters traveling in their droves, Peru have brought a party atmosphere to their first World Cup in 36 years. But the story that best highlights their dedication is the fan who piled on 25 kilos to qualify for an "obese seat" after standard tickets sold out.
Tweet of the day
Former England striker Ian Wright summed up the world's reaction with his sheer disbelief at Messi's penalty miss.
What's ahead on Sunday?
Costa Rica versus Serbia (8 a.m. ET, 1 p.m. UK)
On paper, this looks a straightforward win for Serbia, but Costa Rica upset the odds in 2014 by topping a group that included England, Italy and Uruguay. The memories are still painful.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this clash will be getting a closer look at Sergej Milinković-Savić. The Lazio star isn't guaranteed to start, but he will surely play a part after an impressive season in Serie A. With talk of a £100 million move to Juventus or Manchester United, expect there to be plenty of scouts in attendance to check up on the talented 23-year-old.
Germany versus Mexico (11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. UK)
Given Mexico's size and passion for football, it's incredible to think that their best World Cup performance was twice reaching the quarterfinals as hosts. Having recently been named cohosts for the 2026 World Cup, El Tri will be aiming to make an impression against Germany.
It should be an exciting matchup, with Mexico potentially standing to profit from the off-the-field distractions that have overshadowed Joachim Low's preparations.
Brazil versus Switzerland (2 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. UK)
Brazil coach Tite has said Neymar is "not 100 percent" fit ahead of the Selecao's opener against Switzerland, but hopefully this time there won't be any need for premature commemorations.
Remember when David Luiz and Julio Cesar held up Neymar's shirt before Germany like he'd just died. So weird. pic.twitter.com/nuUpAw54b8— James McManus (@JamesMcManus1) July 7, 2016
Neymar shined in Brazil's warm-up matches, scoring against Austria and Croatia, and will surely relish his moment in the spotlight.