After a night of high drama, beautiful dreams being achieved by the Iran goalkeeper and VAR coming to the fore again, Russia, Uruguay, Spain and Portugal advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup. Russia will play Spain while Uruguay will face Portugal. Today, Tuesday, 26th June 25, 2018, Group C and D will have protagonists facing off to join them. The winners of Group C face the runners-up of Group D, while runners-up of Group C face the winners of Group D.
Remember the FIFA regulations state that if teams have the same points then their ranking will be determined as follows:
- goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
- greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
- greater number of points obtained in the fair play conduct of the teams based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches as follows: – yellow card: minus 1 point – indirect red card: minus 3 points (as a result of a second yellow card) – direct red card: minus 4 points – yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points Only one of the above deductions shall be applied to a player in a single match;
- Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.
Group C (5pm East African Time)
In group C, favorites France seem to be clicking, at last, having restored Olivier Giroud back to the lineup and will take on Denmark to see if they can finish top, having assured themselves of qualification. Denmark is not assured of qualifying for the next round and will anxiously have an eye on the other match in the group pitting Peru and Australia. Peru has won plaudits for their attacking philosophy throughout the world cup, but sadly two losses to France and Denmark mean that they mathematically out of the running to qualify for the next round. Australia is an unremarkable side, but their draw with Denmark means that if they beat Peru and France beat Denmark convincingly, they can sneak through in the second group through goal difference.
Prediction: I expect Peru to be too much Australia, who are yet to score a goal from open play while Denmark should seat back and play for a draw with France that ensures both teams qualify.
Group D (games played at 9 pm East African Time)
Group D is one of the more intriguing ones, with strong African interest in its outcome. Croatia top the group with 6 points having beaten Argentina and Nigeria convincingly in their first two matches without conceding a single goal. They take on Iceland, who were brought back to earth by Nigeria after a brilliant performance from the Super Eagles ended in a 2-0 defeat. Iceland know that only a win will do for them and will hope that Croatia field a weakened side, while hoping Argentina draw or beat Nigeria with less goals than they beat Croatia with.
In the other match, Nigeria will need at least a draw to finish above Argentina reeling from a disastrous 3-0 loss to Croatia, but a win would be much better since it will ensure they finish second. A draw for Nigeria and a win for Iceland knocks out the West Africans. All of Africa is rooting for Nigeria, especially since much of the western media seems to be only looking at Argentina going into this encounter. Argentina must win, and score and hope that Croatia beats Iceland to advance. Nigeria have a wretched record against Argentina in the world cup, having lost each of the four encounters they have faced each other. However, in their most recent meeting, Nigeria won 4-2 in a friendly. Look out for Ahmed Musa to look to punish the leaky Argentina defense, while Messi will hope to drag his teammates again to the next round while trying to score as many goals as possible because they have the worst goal difference in the group.
Prediction: Expect an end to end encounter between Argentina and Nigeria, with lots of action and goals. My heart says Nigeria will win, head says Argentina. In the other encounter, a weakened Croatia ought to be still too much for Iceland, the two teams faced each other in qualifying and they will know each other very well.