Today will see Groups C and D conclude with the fate of Lionel Messi's Argentina the main attraction. Argentina needs to beat Nigeria in St. Petersburg and for Iceland to fail to beat Croatia in Rostov. If both Argentina and Iceland win then Argentina will need to win their game by a greater margin to go through. Nigeria will join Croatia in the next round if they beat Argentina or if they draw and Iceland fail to beat Croatia by a two-goal margin. Argentina's biggest problem going into their game with Nigeria concerns the relationship between the players and coach Jorge Sampaoli. When Sergio Aguero was asked after the Croatia defeat about comments from Sampaoli suggesting the players had not understood his instructions, he said: "Let him say what he wants." That seemed to sum up the bad feeling in the camp. But amid suggestions the players want to pick the team for the last game, Argentinian football federation supremo Claudio Tapia said on Sunday: "Many things that have been written are lies."
And midfielder Javier Mascherano added: "Many myths are created here, and we don't have an explanation for them."
Nigeria winger Ahmed Musa struck twice against Iceland and was hailed as Argentina's hero as it kept them in the tournament, but he is now out to reverse that status and sink the Albiceleste. Musa scored twice against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup as the South Americans triumphed 3-2, and has also scored two goals against Messi's Barcelona for Leicester City in a pre-season friendly last summer.
"Whenever I play against Argentina, or whenever Messi is playing against me, I score," said Musa.
Meanwhile, Croatia's 3-0 victory over Argentina has raised hopes the team can match or do better than the golden generation of 1998. For Croatia in Rostov-on-Don today, it is now a matter of securing the top spot in Group D and thus possibly avoiding a last-16 encounter with France. Many now see Zlatko Dalic's side as one of the favorites in what has been an open tournament so far and ready to match the class of 98 that went to the semi-finals in France on Croatia's first World Cup since gaining independence in 1991. Dalic will be making some changes, as he does not want to risk players with a yellow card. Corluka, midfielder Ivan Rakitic and strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic are among six on bookings.
Despite that, Iceland do not expect Croatia to ease up.
"Even though they've already qualified, they'll want to win every game they play here," captain Aron Gunnarsson said. Group C will also conclude today with Australia facing Peru in Sochi and Denmark playing France in Moscow. If the French draw with the Danes, then Didier Deschamps' already-qualified team will top the group and Age Hareide's team will reach the last 16. Australia are hoping there will be no such draw of convenience. If France beat Denmark and the Socceroos see off Peru, who are already out, then they will progress, providing they close up a goal difference that is currently in Denmark's favor. Les Bleus could however run into wounded Argentina in the next round if they avoids defeat against Denmark, depending on results in Group D the same day.
"Group victory is now our goal," said Deschamps, who captained France to their only world title in 1998. There will be a feeling of deja vu as the two sides also met in the last group game of that tournament, with France winning 2-1 in the only World Cup so far in which they won all three group games. Denmark is unbeaten in 17 competitive games and won the last World Cup match against France, 2-0 in 2002 when a dismal French team went out in the group stage as holders. "We need to improve for the third match because we lost too many balls in midfield," coach Age Hareide said after the Australia game.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.