Another round-up from the World Cup, this time from Groups C & D as Croatia and France move into the knockout stages, Peru leave the competition, and Argentina sits bottom of their group.
When you have a nation that can boast a front three as devastating as that you have to say it’s curtains for the Argentina manager if they fail to emerge from Group D after a diabolical performance against Croatia in the Nizhny Novgorod.
The first half between the two nations was a case of who had the worst miss after both Enco Perez and Mario Mandzukic missed opportunities that were easier to score.
And then a moment of madness followed by a moment of magic.
In the 53rd minute, Willy Caballero dealt with a backpass like it was a bomb, scooping it into the path of Ante Rebic who thundered home a magnificent volley to give the Croats the lead.
The game was all over ten minutes from time when Luka Modric showed Messi how it’s done with a cracking right-foot drive from the edge of the box. Ivan Rakitic sealed the win in injury time with a tap-in, moments after nearly breaking the crossbar with a cannon of a free kick.
Argentina will need to beat Nigeria resoundingly if they are to sneak into the knockout stages. The Super Eagles beat Iceland comfortably thanks to two sweet strikes from Ahmed Musa, and they will go through if they can pick up a point against Argentina, assuming Iceland don’t thump Croatia in the other Group D game, although the bookies are confident Lionel and the boys will get their act together in the final match.
1. Croatia – 6 pts
2. Nigeria – 3
3. Iceland – 1
4. Argentina – 1
What Are The Odds?
Group D (To Qualify)
France goes Through; Denmark in a Strong Position.
If Brazil, Spain or Germany don’t win this World Cup, then the bookies think France is the next best bet, and with good reason.
The French made it to the knockout stages with a game to spare after beating Peru by a goal to nil in the cauldron-like atmosphere of Yekaterinburg’s Ekaterinburg Arena.
Olivier Giroud, who only played 20-minutes against Australia in the first game, began this one in a new three-pronged attack with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, and Giroud and Mbappe were involved in the winning goal.
The Chelsea forward ran onto a through ball from the impressive Paul Pogba, and his deflected shot scooped over the head of the Peruvian goalkeeper and was heading into the goal before Mbappe snatched it on the line.
The goal made Mbappe the youngest ever Frenchman to score at a World Cup at only 19 years and 183 days. Incredibly, he wasn’t even born when France won the World Cup in 1998.
Didier Deschamps side sat back after taking the lead, and Peru gladly took up the baton. The South American team with the coolest kit in the world were unlucky not to set up a crunching last match with Australia, especially when Pedro Aquina struck the bar late on with an incredible swerving effort, but France held on.
Maximum points for the French mean a berth in the knockout stages with a game to spare. That game is against Denmark who drew 1-1 with Australia in the Samara Arena. Christian Erikson thumped home a fabulous half-volley early doors, only for Nile Jedinak to equalise from the penalty spot for the second successive match.
The Danes need a point to make sure of qualification with goal difference so tight between them and the Australians, who take on Peru needing a big win to go through.
1. France – 6 pts
2. Denmark – 4
3. Australia – 1
4. Peru – 0
What Are The Odds?
Group B (To Qualify)
World Cup Winners