What a World cup it has been so far with many of the supposed big boys and pre-tournament favourites flattering to deceive. The first round of matches saw Germany lose to outsiders Mexico, whilst Brazil and Argentina laboured to draws against Switzerland and Iceland respectively. Individual performance of the round has to go to Cristiano Ronaldo after putting three past Spain in the Iberian derby. Our overall team performance of the round must go to Croatia after they swept past Nigeria playing a free-flowing brand of football which most sides are yet to produce. A new look England side came away with a nervy 2-1 victory over Tunisia thanks to a stoppage time winner from captain and talisman Harry Kane and left Volgograd hoping for much more next time out against Panama.
Match day 2 saw a mixed bag of results across the board. Spain, Uruguay, France, Germany and Brazil all claimed victories when it looked like they were heading for draws. Whilst one of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina, were steamrolled by a rampant Croatia side. The most entertaining Group of the round has to be Group G, where Belgium came away 5-2 winners against Tunisia and England walked away with an impressive 6-1 victory over the minnows of Panama. Sitting pretty atop the goal charts is that man Harry Kane with 5, followed by his Group G and Premier League rival, Romelu Lukaku on 4.
Match day 3 sees a lot of teams world cup destiny’s hanging in the balance. Monday sees the final fixtures for Group A and B. Group A is a foregone conclusion, with both Russia and Uruguay being 2 from 2. However, the two sides meet with first place all to play for. Group B has a lot more permutations, with Portugal, Spain and Iran all being able to qualify. Spain play Iran, with a win or draw being enough to see them qualify, the same going for Portugal in their match against Morocco.
Tuesday see’s the turn of group C and D. In group C, France have already secured their place in the knockout stages, whereas Denmark either need a point against France to secure their place, or to hope Australia drop points against Peru. Croatia are runaway winners of group D, yet 2nd place is still up for grabs for everyone else in the group. After playing poorly in both their opening games, Argentina still have a lifeline if they beat Nigeria, however if Iceland beat Croatia then it will be themselves joining Croatia in the knockout stages. For Nigeria a point against Argentina is more than likely enough to book their place in the next round.
Group E is neck and neck at the top with Switzerland, Brazil and Serbia all being in a good position to qualify. A win or draw for Brazil and Switzerland guarantees their place, whereas Serbia must beat Brazil to make it. In Group F Mexico have already assured knockout round participation thanks to two fantastic performances. Whoever has the better result from Sweden and Germany will join them there.
England meet Belgium in the battle for top spot in Group G, with The 3 Lions only needing a point to secure top spot. Group H has a lot more variations. Senegal and Colombia joust for passage with Colombia in Samara, with the Colombians in need of a victory to extend their stay in Russia, unless Poland do them a favour by beating Japan when a draw becomes enough. Current leaders Japan only need a draw to ensure safe passage into the next stage.
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