Why wait for the World Cup when Cricket Soccer can report on it now? Part 2 – groups C and D with a faltering France and magical Leo Messi
It was expected to be a walk in the park for international heavyweights France, but Peru and Denmark really took the destiny of Group C to the wire. Les Blues started off the tournament strongly fashion with a convincing 4-1 win over Australia but matters started to get tricky when they encountered their other rivals.
Peru, who had drawn their match with Denmark, took the game to France and shocked Didier Deschamps’ men in the first twenty minutes as they scored two goals through Paolo Guerrero. From that point, France searched desperately for the equalizer but couldn’t find it, resulting in their first loss of the tournament. Meanwhile, Denmark had beaten Australia on the same match-day which put France into third place before the last round of group games.
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) March 20, 2018
So the job had to be done in the last encounter with Denmark. Peru comfortably beat Australia, who were just at the World Cup to make up the numbers, returning home with zero points and nine goals conceded. That result put Peru in the next round and meant that France needed to beat Denmark to avoid being knocked out in the group stages for the second time in the last three World Cup’s.
France’s confidence hit a tournament low in the match against Denmark and it was the latter nation that dominated the game. Nonetheless, Antione Griezmann got the first big chance but missed embarrassingly, at which point the cameraman switched to Karim Benzema, who was watching the game in the stands. Benzema, banned from the national team for controversy with compatriot Mathieu Valbuena, was seemingly enjoying seeing his country struggle.
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) May 6, 2018
However, as the match progressed, France began to get hold of the game and eventually secured their place in the knockout phase thanks to two goals from Paul Pogba. The football displayed in the first three matches has suggested that France won’t be challenging for their second world title, though.
A group with Lionel Messi in it will always attract attention. Add the surprise package of Iceland to it and Croatia’s brilliant midfield trio of Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric and you potentially have some very enjoyable games.
And as expected, the matches in group D certainly didn’t disappoint. Argentina kicked off their World Cup campaign against Iceland and although the European side showed great willingness, the South American wizards were simply too strong and cruised to a 3-0 win with Lionel Messi grabbing two of the goals.
[SELECCIONADOS] Goleadores del fin de semana:
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) May 7, 2018
Croatia beat Nigeria on match day one, emerging as the favourites to join Argentina in the second round. In their second game, they were beaten by Argentina, though, while Nigeria secured their first victory in a narrow win over Iceland. Every game ended with at least three goals, making group D a real guarantee for action.
However, with the tensions rising, goal numbers alarmingly dropped in the final round of games. Croatia needed to beat Iceland score 2+ goals to practically eliminate Nigeria, regardless of their result vs. Argentina. The African side put on a good fight vs. the Argentinians, though, and won a point with a 0-0 scoreline.
Croatia now only needed a point but despite already being knocked out, minnows Iceland took the lead in the game and seemed to hold on to it until a late bullet header from Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren saved the day for Croatia and put them through to the round of 16.