That’s it the groups are coming to a close as we head into each team’s final games of the first round. Will those who have already secured qualification rest key men or push on and go for the win to build momentum.
Match 1: Denmark Vs. France- 15:00 K.O.
The Danes require at least a point to secure safe passage to the second round. That will be tough, however, as they come up against a France squad who will be hoping to top the group with all 9 points. After two less than convincing performances in the opening two, Les Bleus will be hoping to have a solid performance in this one.
Denmark will be expected to fight in this one as they require a point to seal qualification. Any slip-ups and they could put themselves on the plane home.
Kvist and Poulsen are set to miss the match through injury and suspension respectively. Braithwaite of Middlesborough looks set to get the nod in Poulsen’s place.
Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso could win back his spot with Matidui and Pogba potentially rested due to their yellow cards.
This game will be covered live on ITV.
- France have won six of their last seven games against Denmark (L1), with the only defeat in that run coming in the 2002 World Cup.
- Since his debut for the national side in March 2017, only Olivier Giroud (11) has been involved in more goals for France than teenager Kylian Mbappe (10 – 5 goals, 5 assists).
- Denmark have lost four of their last five World Cup games against fellow European nations, with the exception a 2-0 win against France in 2002.
- Denmark’s Christian Eriksen has scored 17 goals in his last 20 appearances for the national side.
Match 2: Australia Vs. Peru- 15:00 K.O.
The Socceroos are still in with a chance of progressing to the next round if they beat the Peruvians. Their matchday 2 points against the Danes has proven to be an important one. If the French side beat second-placed Denmark then, depending on goal difference, the Aussies could go through. France will want to go through with 3 wins out of three so they look good to take a win against Denmark.
Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric and Jamie Maclaren look set to step in for the Australians in what is a crucial game for them. Meanwhile, Peru’s all-time leading goalscorer Paulo Guerrero will be giving Aussie skipper Mile Jedinak a big hug before kick off. This is down to the role the Socceroos star played in Guerrero’s appeal to allow him to play at the tournament after he faced a 14-month ban. News from the Peru camp also tells us that key man Farfan will miss the game after suffering head trauma from a training ground collision.
This will be one to watch as it could be one that sees Australias hopes dashed or raised.
The game will be covered on ITV.
- Australia have picked up just one point and scored just one goal against South American teams in World Cup group stages (three games in total).
- Australia have kept just one clean sheet in their 15 previous World Cup games. (0-0 v Chile in 1974) they have conceded at least once in each of their last 12 matches.
- Peru are winless in their last eight World Cup matches (D2 L6). They have failed to score in six of those games
- Peru have had 27 shots so far at this World Cup, but are yet to score a single goal.
Match 3: Nigeria Vs. Argentina- 19:00 K.O.
Argentina will be looking to save face in this one. Their hopes of qualification aren’t completely gone, but they do require a win and results to go their way if they wish to progress. Javier Mascherano has recently quashed rumours of a rift between the squad and manager Sampaoli. They will be hoping to show their true colours after their sorry showings in their previous games.
The Nigerian boss Rohr says this tournament is being used as a learning experience and preparation for 2022. He feels this tournament has come just a little too soon for the tournaments youngest side. Despite this, he is still confident his team can challenge the Argentinians in this game. They haven’t done much wrong thus far and seemed to iron out the costly defensive mistakes from the first game in time to seal a convincing win in their second.
The match will be live on BBC 1, with coverage starting at 6:30 pm.
- The Super Eagles have lost all four of their previous World Cup games against Argentina. All of those defeats by single-goal margins (1-0 in 2002 and 2010, 2-1 in 1994, 3-2 in 2014).
- Ahmed Musa is Nigeria’s all-time top scorer at the World Cup with four goals. Two against Iceland at this tournament, and two versus Argentina in 2014.
- Lionel Messi has failed to score with his last 22 shots in matches at World Cup finals.
- They have never completed a first-round group stage at a World Cup without at least one win.
Match 4: Iceland Vs. Croatia- 19:00 K.O.
The Croatians are expected to make multiple changes after their convincing 3-0 win over Argentina last time out. After securing qualification they will possibly take things easy against the icemen who are still in with a shout.
Centre-back Ragnar Sigurdsson is a doubt for Iceland after he picked up a knock against Nigeria. While Gudmundsson will be assessed after a muscle injury.
Six Croation players are one card away from suspension so may see themselves rested. These include Ivan Rakitic, Sime Vrsaljko, Mario Mandzukic, Marcelo Brozovic, Vedran Corluka and the man who capitalised on Caballero’s howler, Ante Rabic.
The match will be live on BBC 4 from 7pm
- Croatia, who have never previously finished top of a World Cup group, can win three successive games at the tournament for the first time.
- They have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four World Cup games, as many as they had in their previous 12 in the competition.
- Iceland are hoping to become the first World Cup debutants to make the knockout stage of a World Cup tournament since Slovakia in 2010.
- Defeat to Nigeria was Iceland’s first ever defeat in the group stage of major tournament (W1, D3).
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