Fifas ticket policy, French sarcasm, colourful supporters and teams making their World Cup debut have grabbed attention

mens team manager

Tickets own goal by Fifa

The word on the street in Nice and Le Havre well, mainly from the mouths of taxi drivers but theyre usually a decent barometer is that many French people are aggrieved that tickets for World Cup matches can only be bought online. The consensus is that, were it possible to buy them from stadium box offices until shortly before kick-off, crowds would rise appreciably. It is an eminently sensible viewpoint, although some say such a late free-for-all could potentially jeopardise the stringent stadium security precautions which are in place across tournament venues. Such logic is hard to fathom though; surely if spectators are body-scanned and searched before taking their seats it doesnt matter where, or when, they purchased their ticket? Fifa moves in mysterious ways invariably for commercial gain but there is a bigger picture at stake. Record television audiences are wonderful but those armchair viewers like to see full grounds. Given that many schools, worldwide, have yet to break up and France is expensive well, at least for us Brits the doors should be opened to walk-up sales from locals. Louise Taylor

France manager has good line in sarcasm

Frances manager, Corinne Diacre, grinned broadly when questioned on a change to the starting XI, having told the press she was sticking with the side that beat South Korea: Well you shouldnt believe everything I say thats it. Its not the first time Diacre has toyed with the press. After Frances opening win, her answer to a question over whether her stony air implied that her role model is the mens team manager, Didier Deschamps, rightfully dripped with sarcasm: Often Im told Im very strict. We never laugh around, we never joke, everything is very calculated theres no exceptions. The girls are very unhappy and you can see that on the field. Its very difficult for the girls, not for me, but for them its very difficult, as you can see. It has been refreshing to have, frankly, stupid questions replied to with the cutting and sassy disrespect shown by Diacre and it seems there will be more. Its another characteristic of my personality, she quipped. Maybe youre not familiar with that. I can be quite ironic youll discover that. Suzanne Wrack

Minnows dare to shine on debut

Playing in your first World Cup must be nerve-wracking but all four nations making their World Cup bow have conducted themselves with aplomb. Although none of Chile, Jamaica, Scotland or South Africa have a point, all four showed glimpses of what theyre capable of. Scotland rallied late, Chile succumbed at the death, Jamaica just couldnt live with Cristiane, and South Africa came closest against Spain and lost narrowly to China. They were on top against La Roja, who needed two VAR-awarded penalties to lead against opponents who had been reduced to 10, before firing home a third. No one expects much of first-timers on the biggest stage, but all four have shown why they deserve to be in France and this serves as a call to other nations vying for their first appearance. If youre good enough, you can qualify and once youre at a World Cup, anything could happen. As clichd as Dare to Shine is, its exactly what those smaller nations are doing. Sophie Lawson

South
South Africa, in action here against China, have shown on their World Cup debut that they are worthy participants. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Netherlands fans set the standard

Some parts of France may have not been entirely enveloped in World Cup mania just yet, but one of the brightest standouts, literally, has been the Netherlands fans. In Eindhoven for the pre-tournament send-off friendly shops and streets were awash with orange. Posters, pennants, cutouts of stars such as Shanice van de Sanden and Lieke Martens adorned entrances. There were even bespoke foosball tables with individualised female players from the Dutch national side. More than 30,000 fans packed PSVs stadium against Australia and a large cohort of that orange tide swept into Le Havre for the Netherlands opening fixture against New Zealand. The pocket horns might trigger vuvuzela-related traumas but the intense rhythmic clapping and chanting, fired on by a terrific travelling brass band playing such Dutch anthems as Auld Lang Syne and Go West, is a wonderful sound. The standard has well and truly been set now for other nations to respond and keep the carnival atmospheres inside stadiums building. Richard Parkin

USA put rest of contenders on notice

With an eye-popping 13-0 win over Thailand, the USA squad seems to have embraced being the team that everyone wants to watch lose. Neutrals may not have enjoyed how the team celebrated their goals, even after the scoreline started to get out of hand, but the Americans seem to relish being dominant. Megan Rapinoe called it an explosion of joy and joked about how thrilled she was the USA took the record for biggest winning margin in a World Cup from Germany, who in 2007 beat Argentina 11-0. There were concerns about the American squad coming into this tournament, specifically around its defence, and the thumping of Thailand doesnt change any of that. But the Americans have still put the field on notice. France were initially the team to beat, but now it looks as if the USA have assumed that role. Caitlin Murray

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