Hosts Russia got the World Cup off to a flying start by hammering Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game in Moscow.
Fears that Russia may become just the second host nation to fail to qualify from the group stages have been quashed for now, but their next opponents Egypt were given a huge boost by the return to fitness of Mohamed Salah ahead of their clash with Uruguay on Friday.
Friday’s standout fixture, though, comes in Sochi where a shell-shocked Spain, still rocking from the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Here are the three things we learned from day one of the 2018 World Cup.
Russia turn up in time
High on the list of Russia’s pre-tournament concerns was whether they had the team to capture a nation’s imagination.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s men hadn’t won in seven games stretching back eight months, sparking fears that on the field, the month-long festival of football would largely pass the hosts by.
Instead, they chose the perfect time to find their form with plenty of help from a woeful Saudi Arabia side that now must face up to the firepower of Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani and Salah.
Denis Cheryshev was the hero the nation was crying out for, scoring twice, including a stunning effort that curled into the top corner with the outside of his left foot, as Russia’s party got off to the best possible start.
Salah fit to feature
Egyptians worst fears as they saw Salah depart in tears from the Champions League final three weeks ago won’t be realised as the Liverpool star will be fit to play against Uruguay on Friday.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper said he could assure fans “almost 100 percent” Salah will play some part in Yekaterinburg.
Salah carried Egypt to their first World Cup since 1990, scoring five of their eight goals in qualifying, including a dramatic stoppage time penalty against Congo to seal their place in Russia.
Spain move on from Lopetegui sacking
Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos was the man who inflicted the shoulder injury that put Salah’s World Cup at risk.
However, far from his usual role as aggressor on the field, Ramos had to act as peacemaker on Thursday as Spain tried to move on from a dramatic few days that have rocked their World Cup preparations.
Just two days before their Group B opener against Portugal, Ramos’s future club manager Lopetegui was sacked for not informing the Spanish federation of his negotiations with Real.
Fernando Hierro will instead take charge, but Ramos insists Spain remain contenders for the tournament.
“These have not been pleasant times at all,” he said on the eve of the match in Sochi.
“There are no cracks. We are all individuals and we all think differently, but the collective idea is the same – we are here to go for the World Cup.”
Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”
The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.
This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.
All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.
The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.
There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.
Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages.
Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.
But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.
“Nice girls don’t do that.”
“So I’m a bad girl.”
“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”
“Bad girls get in trouble.”
“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”
“What bad things?”
“Very bad things.”
A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.
This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with.
It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.
“Have some shame!”
“Oh for shame!”
“Do not bring shame upon…”
Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.
It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.
And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.
The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!
Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).
Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:
This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.