Five talking points from day 10 of the FIFA World Cup

After the dust had settled following Toni Kroos's stunning winner for Germany, Sportstar takes a look at the five talking points from the day 10 of the World Cup.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Germany's Mesut Ozil.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Germany's Mesut Ozil.   -  Getty Images

 

Lukaku's resurgence as a goal-scorer

After scoring a brace against Panama in Belgium's opening match, Romelu Lukaku continued his fine show to pummel another brace against Tunisia on Saturday. His exploits take his tally to four goals, making him the joint top-scorer along with Cristiano Ronaldo.

On his current form, he will be key to Belgium advancing in the competition.

Mexico's stunning attacking display

Mexico has put up a stunning attacking display in its two group stage matches so far. El Tri sits on top of Group F with six points, courtesy of two remarkable wins over Germany and South Korea.

Javier Hernandez and Hirving Lozano (bottom), along with Carlos Vela and Miguel Layun (both not in picture) form a fearsome attacking front four for Mexico.   -  Getty Images

 

The attacking quartet of Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela and Miguel Layun has combined extremely well, and the first three have also got a goal each to their names. Having sealed its berth in the round of 16, this attacking quartet will definitely be one to look out for going ahead.

Berg being denied a penalty

One of the biggest talking point at the World Cup has been the use of VAR, or rather, the lack of it. This was on prime display in Germany's 2-1 win over Sweden in Saturday, when Jerome Boateng appeared to have shoved Marcus Berg inside the box but referee, Szymon Marciniak, saw nothing wrong.

Marcus Berg was fouled in the box by Jerome Boateng. (Getty Images)

 

Television replays showed that Boateng had got none of the ball and had clearly tripped Berg but the referee's hesitance to use VAR robbed Sweden of a penalty. While Germany went on to win the tie, one cannot help but think that the penalty could've changed the final scoreline.

What next for Ozil?

After being slated for his display against Mexico, Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil was dropped to the bench by coach Joachim Low for the Sweden clash. The Arsenal player was excluded from the starting XI from a major competition for the first time in 26 matches since the 2010 World Cup.

Former German international Stefan Effenberg had led the calls for his axing, questioning his value to the side. Ozil's replacement on the night, Marco Reus, made the most of his first start of the tournament with a goal and an assist. Ozil remained an unused substitute. 

Ozil's performances with Arsenal in the 2017-18 season also drew flak, with pundits often lamenting his work-rate in the crunch fixtures.

After the success of a youthful side in the Confederations Cup last year, Low may consider reducing his reliance on his senior members with further progression in the tournament in mind. Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka are on hand to come in and do the job for Germany.

Holes to plug for Germany

The defending champion's tactics drew the ire of defender Mats Hummels after Mexico exposed the gaping holes in the team's midfield with a direct, counter-attacking approach. Time and again, Hummels and Jerome Boateng were left isolated to deal with Lozano, Vela and Hernandez running towards them at pace.

And in the match against Sweden, it seemed like Low hadn't altered the approach with only the inclusion of Sebastian Rudy in place of Sami Khedira. Toni Kroos was culpable in midfield when he gave the ball away for Sweden's opening goal in the first half. Germany must count itself lucky that Sweden didn't capitalise on a man advantage in the last 15 minutes of the game.

Although, Kroos made amends in the end with a stunning winner in the 95th minute, Low must be wary of his players conceding room for their opponents to flourish.