Last night’s result once again sent shock waves through the football world as Croatia decimated Argentina, and put the latter on the brink of elimination from the World Cup! That match will be reviewed in more details tomorrow, after the other fixture in the group is played.
In this article, I will review the second set of matches from Group C and preview those of Groups E and F.
Match 3: Denmark vs Australia
Christian Eriksen gave the Danes an early lead with a superb finish from just inside the penalty box. Some good link-up play saw Jorgensen receive the ball on the edge of the box and set up Eriksen. Denmark continued their offensive and should’ve been further ahead, Jorgensen sending a free header wide from six yards out. Australia started coming into the game more after this scare and were awarded a penalty, via VAR, after Leckie’s hearer from a corner hit Yussuf Poulsen’s hand. The defender was perhaps a bit unlucky with the decision as the header was from very close range and he had no time to react. Up stepped Jedinak, and like the last game, converted without any difficulty. Australia were the better team in the second half, making Schmeichel work a couple of times with good goal-bound attempts. Sisto had a curling effort go just wide for Denmark. He scores remained tied and the points were, perhaps a fair result in the end.
Final Score: Denmark 1 – 1 Australia
Match 4: France vs Peru
Peru knew that they needed to get at least a point from this game to stay alive in the tournament. France made it very hard for them from the beginning, keeping the pressure high and constantly challenging their goalkeeper. Varane headed just wide from a corner in the 14th minute. The chances kept coming, with Griezman having a shot blocked next, but somehow the South Americans were hanging on. Peru had the best chance of the game thus far, in the 31st minute, when Paolo Guerrero easily turning Umtiti, but his shot did not have the power or the placement to beat Lloris. Peru’s wastefulness was punished immediately after, Olivier Giroud, who was very influential in most of France’s offensive exploits, had his cross half blocked by Alberto Rodriguez, but it fell kindly to Mbappe who slotted into an open net. France had further opportunities to score in the first half but failed to capitalize. Peru came very close to an equalizer in the 50th minute via Aquino’s long range effort, but the ball skimmed the outside of the post and went out. After this, France stifled the game, kept control and held on for a narrow win, knocking their opponents out of the tournament. There were some question marks about how Deschamps had lined up in this game, with Matuidi on the wing and both Pogba and Kante playing as central midfielders, but in the end, it wasn’t a factor in this game.
Final Score: France 1 – 0 Peru
Match 3: Brazil vs Costa Rica
Brazil go into this game with a draw against their names against Switzerland, and know that anything other than a win will put unnecessary pressure on themselves. Costa Rica were outplayed by Serbia in their opener, with mostly their opponent’s midfield making the difference. The brilliant free-kick from Kolarov didn’t help their cause, off course. Brazil are huge favourites for the win in this game, and also to win this group. They should get past Costa Rica with, but the same feeling of foreboding that I ahd for Argentina seems to be prevalent again. If there is an upset, this will be much bigger than what we experienced last night, and that’s saying something! However, I cannot see Brazil not scoring, and also find it hard to expect Costa Rica to score more than one in this game. As such, all things considered, I will stick my neck out and call this match as a draw. Shocking!
Prediction: Brazil 1 – 1 Costa Rica
Match 4: Serbia vs Switzerland
The match between two teams that would’ve been hoping to be the second team to go through with Brazil from this group. Right now, group leadership is there for the taking! Serbia impressed with their composed display in the last game and know they only need a draw to stay on top of the group. They will once again be heavily dependent on Milinkovic-Savic to control the game from midfield. Switzerland, for their part, won’t go over the top in trying to get a win in this game, as they will fancy their chances against Costa Rica in their last match. Xherdan Shakiri had a decent outing last time around but this game could be the one where he springs to life. I’m going with a draw in this one as well, with both teams fancying their chances to still qualify with this result.
Prediction: Serbia 1 – 1 Switzerland
Match 3: South Korea v Mexico
Mexico put on the team performance of the tournament so far, troubling defending champions Germany throughout their opening fixture, and rightfully came away with all three points. With some more composure in front of goal, the result could’ve been far more one-sided! South Korea were poor in their opener, rolling over for Sweden without offering much. If the performances from the last games are repeated, I can’t see any way for the Koreans to beat their opponents. And that is exactly what I expect to happen. The Mexican wide players, Lozano and Layun should prove too strong for their opponents and Mexico should run away with an easy win.
Prediction: South Korea 0 – 2 Mexico
Match 4: Germany vs Sweden
What a story it would be if the defending champions were eliminated from the group stages! However, the same fate has befallen three out the previous four World Cup winners, before Germany. It is not an impossibility, especially if the Germans don’t shore up in defense, and drop their naivety from the opening game. The positive for them is that Sweden don’t have the pace that Mexico troubled them with. The former is a compact defensive unit however, and a win is in no way a foregone conclusion. The Swedes will be looking for a point from this game at it still keeps them in a qualifying spot. However, I do think the defending champions should have enough quality to get the desired result. It is very unlike them not to bounce back from a poor performance, and they should do so here.
Prediction: Germany 2 – 0 Sweden