Match day 3 provided plenty of entertainment for us football fans. Croatia deservedly beat an underwhelming Nigeria side. Peru missed an early penalty against Denmark and ended up regretting it as Poulsen scored the winner in the second half. France toiled to defeat Australia and as usual, the unending wave of critics started before the game was even over.
The coup of the day goes to Iceland, who in their first game in a World Cup, kept Lionel Messi’s Argentina at bay with their Viking-style shield wall defence.
Another milestone for the day was the first use of VAR at a World Cup for France’s penalty.
France toils to overcome underrated Australia
France were given a lot of stick for failing to show their attacking prowess against the Socceroos. This is partly because the quality in the French squad has ridiculously raised the expectations for Les Bleus and mostly due to an insulting underestimation of the Australian national team. The Socceroos are a very well rounded team and have a couple of World Cup finalist at the helm (Van Bommel, Van Marwijk – Netherlands – WC Final 2010). There is a reason why Jose Mourinho predicted the Asia representative will end finish as runner up in the group.
France showed a lot of positives. Ngolo Kante was mightily impressive, intercepting balls and stopping Australian counter-attacks all over the place and even dribbling past three Australians on the left flank at the end of the game. Apart from Umtiti’s handball, the defence was very solid. Pavard might not bring much to the team offensively but he did well on the defensive side. Lucas Hernandez was a rock. The depth of the French squad meant Deshchamps could rely on Giroud, Fekir and Matuidi to help the French unlock the game. All in all, France can dream big for this World Cup.
New boys Iceland nullify Argentina
Argentina had their chances to pin down Iceland but poor finishing contributed to a drab draw for the South Amerian giants. The Icelandic team must be commended for their performance. For their first World Cup game, they not only did not lose but scored a first World Cup goal as well. Argentina for their part have a very technical group of offensive players but the defence is something to worry about for Sampaoli. In the absence of Romero, Caballero looked shaky. Captain Leo Messi will come under fire for his missed penalty but one bad result does not dethrone him as the World’s best player. His next opponents should be very wary.
European Duo take all 3 points
Denmark and Croatia both won their games. Peru had an early penalty but missed their chance to take the lead. Yussuf Poulsen then scored the only goal of the game, assisted by Spurs’ Eriksen, after a quick counter-attack.
Croatia defeated Nigeria in the last game of the day. The Super Eagles could not rise to the level of the Croatians, who boast the likes of Real Madrid’s Modric, Barcelona’s Rakitic, Juventus’ Mandzukic and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren. Sadly, the only noticeable event for Nigerians was Victor Moses’ embarassing diving antics throughout the game.
Group C: France and Denmark both have 3 points at the top. Australia is third and Peru, both with zero points.
Group D: Croatia leads with 3 points. Argentina and Iceland are next with 1 point each. Nigeria are last with no points.
Group E and F play tomorrow:
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