As always, Croatia began this summer’s FIFA World Cup as everyone’s favourite ‘dark horse’. Naturally, since dispatching Argentina by a comfortable three goal margin, Zlatko Dalić’s side have now been installed as one of the favourites to go all the way and actually win the tournament. They have of course already secured their passage into the next round, having collected maximum points from their opening two games. In the meantime, Dalić and his players must look upon their final group match against Iceland tonight as an opportunity to make a statement of their intent ahead of the next round. Continue reading
The second round will end today with England looking to secure the qualification against Panama. Japan and Senegal will square off in the afternoon, trying to maintain the momentum they obtained after the surprise wins in their respective debuts. The main event will be Poland versus Colombia, where both teams need a win to bounce back to stay alive.
Let’s recap the already sealed verdicts ahead of the third and final match. Four squads have gained access to the elimination stage: Russia and Uruguay in the group A, France and Croatia in C and D one. Continue reading
When Ahmed Musa woke up on Saturday morning, he had a new status as an unlikely hero in Argentina. The Leicester City striker scored two goals in Nigeria’s victory over Iceland in Volgograd on Saturday, keeping La Albiceleste’s faint hopes of reaching the World Cup last 16 alive despite them taking just one point from their opening two games.
Much of the post-match analysis from last night’s encounter between Argentina and Croatia was centred around Jorge Sampaoli’s tactical ineptitude. That is only natural when you consider the fact that Lionel Messi and several other world class talents continue to struggle to live up to the pressure that comes with wearing the famous Albiceleste shirt. The former Chile and Sevilla coach made the mistake of blaming his players from being unable to make his system work, and this has understandably taken a lot of attention away from the Vatreni and journeyman tactician Zlatko Dalić. Continue reading
Now everybody at the World Cup has played at least once, there is a clearer idea how each team will get on for the rest of the tournament. Most of the bigger sides, those who can expect to challenge for the crown, have failed to impress so far, but while the likes of Brazil and Germany couldn’t to win in their opening games, the general consensus is that they will recover. For the likes of Nigeria and Iceland, though, the jury is still very much out.
Despite huffing and puffing their way towards a 1-1 draw against Iceland in their opening match of the FIFA World Cup, Argentina are still widely expected to qualify from Group D. However, in order to do so, they must secure a positive result versus Croatia tomorrow night. Of course, that is much easier said than done. The Balkans do, after all, top the section after a comfortable 2-0 victory over a lacklustre Nigeria side. Continue reading
On the face of it, a 2-0 victory over a team many considered to be potentially dangerous opponents represents an excellent start to Croatia’s FIFA World Cup campaign. Indeed, there were several positives for coach Zlatko Dalić to take from the match. Captain Luka Modrić was in sublime form, dominating the middle of the pitch as he has done for the past several seasons at Real Madrid. It is no exaggeration to say that he was a class above the rest in every possible sense. Continue reading
After their determined performances at Euro 2016, it was no surprise that Iceland worked extremely hard for their first ever World Cup point. What was a shock was that they did so versus Argentina, one of the competition’s so called heavyweights, goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson even saving a penalty from Lionel Messi as the underdogs held out for a 1-1 draw.
Despite possessing the ball for over 70% of the match and having 12 shots on goal, Argentina was simply unable to break through the Icelandic wall and finished in an embarrassing 1-1 draw.
Messi displayed his usually artistry but showed that, when it counted the most, he could not produce. After missing a penalty shot and a plethora of strikes, he was afforded a free kick from a similar distance to that given to Cristiano Ronaldo in his match against Spain. Yet, unlike Ronaldo, who scored a magnificent goal on his way to a hat trick, Messi kicked the ball into a wall of defenders. He finished with zero goals…
Argentina face a potential banana skin opponent in their first Group D match versus Iceland on Saturday. It only takes a look back to Euro 2016 to see what they could achieve as they appeared in their first ever major tournament, the smallest nation to ever have done so. Boss Heimir Hallgrimsson has kept the majority of the side together who would shoot to fame after sensationally beating England in the last 16 to reach a quarter-final with France.