Last night’s World Cup matches were about as easy to predict as the end of the world, with both Iran and Morocco playing draws against Portugal and Spain. That was unexpected to say the least, and one now wonders what surprises are in store for this afternoon’s and evening’s games.
Today’s matches sees the culmination of Group C, where it’s Denmark v France and Australia v Peru, followed by Group D, where it’s Iceland v Croatia and Nigeria v Argentina, in order to see who qualifies for the next phase.
Denmark are second in the group with four points, and face off against already qualified France, who may make some changes to their side after securing qualification. Samuel Umtiti is suffering from a calf problem, so Presnel Kimpembe or Adil Rami will deputise in central defence. Antoine Griezmann hasn’t been performing up to par in the first two matches for Le Bleu and may be replaced from the start by Nabil Fekir, if form is anything to go by, however, Didier Deschamps may stick with the Atletico Madrid star. France may well field some changes in order to give other players a chance.
Denmark can assure qualification with a single point, and have a two goal difference superior to Australia, but will have been disappointed to draw against them, after conceding a penalty against the Socceroos in the last match. Denmark are without goalscorer Poulsen after he picked up a yellow card in both starting games, with Viktor Fischer a likely replacement.
Match Prediction: Result France Both Teams to Score: Yes
In the simultaneous deciding match of Group C, it’s Australia v Peru with the Aussies on one single point, with a potential of qualification if they beat Peru by 2 or 3 goals, whilst Peru are simply playing for pride. Australia need a win, however, we don’t envisage Australia getting an easy game here, even though, Jefferson Farfan is ruled out with head injury, the Aussies will still have to contain Andre Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero in attack.
Winger Matthew Leckie has impressed so far for Australia, and provides pace and creativity on the right side, but in that both Australia’s goals have been from penalty kicks, they are yet to score from open play and this doesn’t bode well for their qualification hopes today. It’s going to be a tight game, with some suggesting that Australia will win, but even if they do, they’ll need a big goal difference in order to do so.
Match Prediction: Australia v Peru 2-1
In Group D, it’s Iceland v Croatia, and with Croatia being one of the standout teams of the World Cup so far, we suspect that this is the end of Iceland’s first World Cup tournament, after losing 2-0 Nigeria in their last match. Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in the last match, and will be looking for 9 points to finish the group with a 100% record. But with qualification already assured Croatia will give the players a run out, and manager Dalić will likely rest a few players tonight. Mateo Kovacic will likely start along with Vedran Corluka, who are by no means lesser players.
Iceland need a miracle to win and that’s not very likely to happen, so they’ll at least hope to give Croatia a tough match and make their mark on the tournament with another goal, after stunning Argentina in their opening match. Emil Halfredsson looks likely to take the place of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Match Prediction: Over 2.5 Goals
In the other match, the undoubtable pick of the day’s games, sees a crunch time match for Argentina against Nigeria, with Lionel Messi desperate to lead his side through to the second phase. Admittedly, Argentina have looked less than impressive in all their games, suggesting a rift in the camp and or lack of good management from head coach Jorge Sampaoli. Argentina have to win and they may find that difficult, after an inspired performance from the Super Eagles in the last match, with Ahmed Musa scoring twice to all but bury Iceland.
Argentina have a full squad with everybody available but after two terrible performances it’s unclear as to who will start, but Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi will have to perform in a suspected return to the 4-3-3 formation, whilst many wish to see Paolo Dybala playing as the centre forward from the start, ahead of Gonzalo Higuain.
Jon Obi Mikel is doubtful for Nigeria, but should play on despite a hand injury, whilst manager Germot Rohr, could filed a three-man defence or even field four at the back, to counter the attacking threats of Argentina. One thing that sticks out is the overall physical stature and advantage that Nigeria have over Argentina in the physical side of the game, and we think it’s unlikely that Argentina to dominate this match, as they would wish.
We think that Argentina’s World Cup will come to an end today, but we’re just not sure how it will go, however, both teams are likely to find the back of the net, and if Nigeria score early, Argentina’s heads will drop, as they clearly lack confidence at this stage.
Match Prediction: Both Teams to Score
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: Goal.com