World Cup Round-Up: 26/06/18

World Cup Round-Up: 26/06/18

Denmark vs France (Group C) – 26/06/18

Denmark

Denmark have put themselves in an excellent position to make it into the last 16. They currently sit on 4 points after their opening two games in Group C and need just a point to confirm their place in the knockout stages where they haven’t appeared since 2002. Last time out they were held to a 1-1 draw with Australia in a game which they expected to win so will be disappointed that they couldn’t hold on to all three points. Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen gave them the lead with a superb volley after just 7 minutes. That was then cancelled out after a controversial penalty decision was given against the Danes when Yussef Poulsen was penalised for handball after consultation from VAR. The penalty was cooly slotted away by Mile Jedinak to give the Socceroos their first point of the tournament and give them a chance to take the Danes place in the last 16 if results go their way in the final group games.

Denmark know that avoiding defeat against the talented French side will see them progress into the knockout stages but will also be wary that a win would see them top Group C and give themselves an easier passage in the last 16. Christian Eriksen will undoubtedly be the key man for the Danes if they are to get something against a French side that have been unconvincing so far in Russia. Eriksen has a good record when representing his country, scoring an impressive 11 goals in 12 games during qualification and added to that with his first World Cup goal against Australia last time out so he’ll want to continue that form here.

France

France have already confirmed there place in the last 16 but are yet to confirm top spot in Group C despite winning both of their opening two matches.  Les Blues scraped past Peru last time out after Kyllian Mbappe’ 34th minute goal was enough to get past the South American side. Didier Deschamps side are one of the favourites to go all the way this Summer and are one of the only bigger nations to have not dropped points so far so will be hoping that they can secure top spot with a result here.

Despite their good results the French haven’t been at their best so far this tournament. They have one of, if not the best squad in the competition so will be hoping that they can play to their full potential as the tournament progresses. Les Blues are still looking for their best XI and opted with Blaise Matuidi as a makeshift left winger in the game against Peru and that experiment may continue in this game with Denmark. Olivier Giroud may drop back to the bench after being brought in due to Peru’s lack of height. With both sides just needing a point to secure what they want from the Group phase it wouldn’t be a surprise if both sides just played it out for a draw here.

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Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D) – 26/06/18

Nigeria

Nigeria face an uphill battle to make it to the last 16 after there opening game defeat to Croatia. An own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty from Luka Modric saw the African side beaten comfortably by the Croatians and a matchup against a much more talented Argentina side could see them suffer a similar fate here.

The Super Eagles have never made it past the last 16 of the World Cup and were knocked out at that stage four years ago by France and it doesnt look like they’re going to improve on that finish in Russia. Nigeria haven’t won any of their last four matches but will still come into this one with confidence. The last time these two sides met was in a frendly back in November in which the Super Eagles ran out 4-2 winner so they will be hoping for a similar result here so they can send their fans away with something to cheer.

Argentina

Argentina are in massive trouble of not making it into the knockout stages after a massively underwhelming tournament so far. A disappointing 1-1 draw with Iceland in their opening game was followed by a massive 3-0 defeat against Croatia leading to calls by many for manager Jorge Sampaoli to be sacked before the World Cup is even over. After almost missing out on qualification for the tournament the 2014 runners up now find themselves needing to get a result here if they want any chance of making it to the last 16.

Argentina have been way off their best in the tournament despite having a host of attacking talent amongst their ranks, including arguably the Worlds best player Lionel Messi, but cannot seem to get them all to work in a one team. Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala all seem to be battling over one position in Sampoli’s system and despite them only scoring once in their opening two games Argentina seem too top heavy of a side to go all the way this Summer. With their World Cup hanging in the balance, Argentina should bounce back with a win here but it still might not be enough to see them into the knockout stages.

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Iceland vs Croatia (Group D) – 26/06/18

Iceland

The Icelandic thunder clap has more than been heard in Iceland’ first ever World Cup campaign. They’ve put themselves in a position where  a good result against Croatia would see them qualify for the last 16 on their first attempt. Their opening game saw them draw 1-1 with Argentina after Alfreo Finnbogason got their first ever World Cup goal to cancel out Sergio Aguero’ 19th minute opener. Iceland know that a good result could see them upset the odds once again and reach the last 16 at their first attempt.

Over 99% of the population tuned in to watch Icelands opening game with Argentina and their side still contains players that aren’t even professional but still they find a way to get results on the biggest stage. Despite their unthinkable draw with Argentina Icelands run of form hasn’t been the greatest. They didn’t win any of the four games before the tournament began, losing 3 of them meaning they haven’t won a game since January so will need to get themselves back to winning ways if they want to make it further in this competition.

Croatia

Croatia have been one of the most impressive teams in the World Cup so far. They followed up their opening game victory over Nigeria with a 3-0 hammering of Argentina to confirm themselves of a place in the last 16 for the first time since their World Cup debut in 1998 where they finished 3rd. Goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic was enough to see off the Argentines leaving the Croatians a near enough certain to finish top of Group D.

Croatia are an exciting team to watch and have the quality to make a real impact on this tournament. They’ve managed to clinch their spot in the last 16 without their two main goal scorers, Inter’s Ivan Perisic and Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic even getting on the scoresheet as of yet so they could get even better once they enter the knockout stages. With Croatia’s place in the last 16 already secured, manager Zlatko Dalic may choose to rest some players for then and will be happy with a draw to confirm themselves as group winners.

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