The battles to advance to the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup continues today, Wednesday 27th June, after France and Denmark qualified from Group C and Croatia and Argentina qualified from Group D, thanks to a great goal by Messi that is certain to go down as one of the goals of the tournament.
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;
- The 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 E (games played at 9 pm East African Time)
In group E, Brazil takes on Serbia while Switzerland takes on Costa Rica. Brazil knows that a draw or a win should be enough for them, having drawn with Switzerland in their first match and beaten Costa Rica late in their second match. Serbia must beat Brazil to qualify to the next round, and despite having one of the most exciting young midfielders in Europe in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, this might be a bridge too far. Phillipe Coutinho is quietly having a superb tournament, and his battle with Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic in midfield should be a great spectacle and may be vital to the final result.
Switzerland takes on bottom side Costa Rica, happy that their two stars Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were only fined after their exuberant celebrations against Serbia in their second game. This could be a tricky game for Switzerland, which is a team more set out to defend and counter, but they should comfortably get a draw that allows them to advance from the group. Costa Rica has been brave and well organized and will look to exit the tournament on a high. However, knowing it is their last match, they might look to play a weakened side so as to give many players who are yet to taste action in Russia a game. This might play into Switzerland’s hands.
Prediction: Brazil should take care of a young and rapidly improving Serbia, who need to beat them to qualify. This should play into Brazil’s hands, and I suspect Serbia’s Branislav Ivanovic will have a really long evening against Marcelo and Neymar, who will overload the left flank and look to combine to create chances. Switzerland is likely to get a draw against Costa Rica who have performed manfully but have nothing to play for, are out of their depth with an aging squad, and have already been eliminated with two losses.
Group F (games played at 5 pm East African Time)
In Group F, Mexico has provided the world cup with arguably its biggest shock so far when they stunned the defending champions Germany 1-0 in their first encounter. Mexico also won their next game against South Korea, and head to their final game against Sweden full of confidence and knowing that a draw against Sweden will likely be enough for them to qualify. Sweden will also know that they must better Germany’s result at the end of the evening. Mexico has made the last 16 of every World Cup since 1994, and with the likes of Hirving Lozano and Chicharito in the attack, should be too much for Sweden. Mexico will look to defend and hit on the counter, and with Sweden also needing a draw but knowing that a win is likely to be a must, this may be a frustrating game for Sweden, as Germany are likely to smash South Korea.
Germany head into their encounter with South Korea knowing that they need to better Sweden’s result to qualify. This means scoring more goals than Sweden if both draws. After the last gasp Toni Kroos winner against Sweden, morale is likely to be high and they should be comfortable winners against a South Korean side who look to be lightweight and one of the weaker sides in the tournament. Germany has made the quarterfinals of every world cup since 1982, and it is unfathomable that that record will fall tonight, especially as they face a poor South Korean side for whom Heung Min Son just hasn’t performed at this tournament, and is facing two years compulsory military service if he doesn’t do exceptionally well for South Korea at this World Cup or the Asian Games in August.
South Korea must beat Germany to have any chance of progressing while hoping that Sweden loses against Mexico. This is a tall order, to put it lightly. The big question for Germany is who plays as holding midfielder, with Sami Khedira past it and Nicklas Sule having gotten injured against Sweden. Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan should start.
Prediction: Mexico should get the draw they need to qualify against Sweden, who have to lift themselves up after the last-minute heartbreak against Germany. Germany will come out guns blazing against South Korea, and a three or four goal margin isn’t unlikely. Mexico and Germany look likely to move on to the last 16.