Day 7 Review: Suarez and Ronaldo strike as exodus begins.
Day 7 proved the dullest of the World Cup so far with 3 fixtures pitching the weak against the strong and inevitable bus parking by Iran, Saudi Arabia and erm Portugal.
Portugal started proceedings against Morocco with the North African side needing to avoid defeat to stay alive. Ronaldo started with a bang smashing a 4th minute header in for Portugal but Morocco as in their first game got their passing game going and dominated for long spells with the Rui Patricio forced into a string of fine saves but as in their first game wasteful finishing cost the stylish Moroccon’s who went down to a 1-0 defeat and World Cup elimination. But the headlines for the game were created by Pepe and his pathetic going to ground in an attempt to stitch up a fellow pro.
Uruguay and Saudi Arabia were awful in their opening games and both improved somewhat in the second with the Saudi’s defending gamely against Uruguay’s improving attack, but as so often is the case with Uruguay it was Luis Suarez who proved the difference tapping home from a corner to guarantee his side’s progress to the last 16 on the occasion of his 100th cap. It was a result that confirmed the eliminations of both the Saudi’s and Egypt who’d lost the previous night with Russia going Uruguay in round 2.
Finally Iran faced Spain in the evening game. Iran predictably went into their defensive shell and Spain struggled to find their rhythm trying to break it down with Isco the only Spanish player to provide much creativity in the first half. Shortly after the Iran almost broke the deadlock with a flashing drive hitting the side netting and were made to pay moments later when Andres Iniesta jinked away from 2 defenders to play in Diego Costa who deflected the ball into the Iranian goal: 1-0. Iran thought they’d equalised from a set piece but VAR correctly ruled the goal out for offside. Iran showed more ambition in the second half but struggled to create clear-cut chances and Spain held out for a hard-fought win.
Day 8 Preview
Australia vs Denmark
This should be a decent game with both teams likely to feel they can win. Denmark were fortunate to beat Peru but will likely play with more freedom against Australia and try to get Christian Eriksen more involved whilst the Australians need to win to give themselves a chance of qualification. There will more goals in this than yesterdays 3 game combined but I think Denmark will get more of them
Prediction: Australia 1-3 Denmark
France vs Peru
France were hugely disappointing against Australia whilst Peru showed plenty of attacking intent against Denmark. The French will need to radically improve because Peru have enough to hurt them and although I expect France to qualify regardless they need to pick up their form if they want to live up to their high potential and I think they might struggle again.
Prediction: France 1-1 Peru
Croatia vs Argentina
No question this is the game of the day. Both sides struggled in their opener but the pressure is squarely on Argentina after their draw with Iceland. Messi should find more space here than he got against Iceland with Croatia lacking a man marker to pick him up from deep positions. But Croatia can attack too and they got better as the game went on against Nigeria but they seem to struggle fitting their talented attackers into the team shape. This could be a cracker and how well Croatia counter attack could prove pivotal.
Prediction: Croatia 2-2 Argentina