The Danes look a one-man team, but does John Newsome believe the guile of Christian Eriksen can put the French into a flap?
DENMARK v FRANCE
Denmark just need a point against France to guarantee progression to the last 16. Technically they could still finish 2nd in Group C even if they lose to France, but would have to rely on Peru beating Australia. Christian Eriksen got his 1st of the tournament in the 1-1 draw with Australia and sets up a great final game against France.
Les Bleus got a 1-0 win against Peru in their 2nd game with Kylian Mbappe getting the all-important goal. Several Premier League clubs are chasing the French ace with both Manchester clubs vying for the 19-year-olds signature. He will, however, cost a fortune as Paris St Germain have only just paid Monaco €180 Million for Kylian but are being investigated under Financial Fair Play rules and could have to sell. France are guaranteed qualification to the last 16 and just need a point against the Danes to finish top. Depending on Didier Deschamps team selection, which will be a common theme with these 3rd Round Matches, France shouldn’t lose.
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AUSTRALIA v PERU
Australia have performed really well in their 2 previous games without much reward. Aston Villa ace and Barnsley FC Legend Mile Jedinak scored his 2nd penalty in the tournament to get a point against Denmark. Mile has never actually played for Barnsley FC, but his 89th-minute header for Crystal Palace in the 2012/2013 season relegated Peterborough to League One and secured Barnsley’s place in the Championship for another season. Posh were just minutes away from safety until Jedinak popped up at the death to win it for Palace and send their visitors into the bottom three owing to Barnsley’s 2-2 draw at Huddersfield. So Big Bearded Mile has legendary status in Barnsley. A big win against Peru matched with a heavy defeat for Denmark against France could send the Aussies through to the last 16 and they will go all out to get the win then see what happens.
Peru, making their first appearance at a World Cup in 36 years have performed gamely but ultimately have lost both their group games against Denmark and France. They haven’t been disgraced in either game only losing 1-0, but haven’t scored and have found it difficult in front of the goal. Unfortunately, the Peruvians are going home after this game and this will be another tight affair with not many goals.
Australia Win 1-0
NIGERIA v ARGENTINA
Nigeria got arguably one of the results of the tournament so far beating Iceland 2-0 after their initial loss to Croatia. Former Leicester player Ahmed Musa scored 2 superb goals to put Nigeria in a great position to qualify with Croatia to the last 16. A win against Argentina would definitely do it, but they could progress with just a draw depending on the outcome of the Iceland v Croatia game.
Argentina have been shocking in this year’s World Cup only managing 1 point from their 2 games. Against Croatia, they simply didn’t turn up and were hammered 3-0. Lionel Messi looks to have the weight of the nation on his shoulders and is playing like Lionel Blair. The strange thing is the Blue and Whites can still qualify with an emphatic win here and Croatia beating Iceland. That said it would just mask Argentina’s problems and really they don’t deserve to progress. Nigeria shouldn’t lose.
ICELAND v CROATIA
Iceland lost to Nigeria last time out and now look as if they will struggle to qualify for the last 16. Iceland need to win heavily here against Croatia and hope Argentina beat Nigeria but only by the odd goal as both will have 4 points and goal difference will come into play. The surprise in that Nigeria loss was the usually reliable Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a penalty. Croatia have qualified for the last 16 and have the luxury of resting star players if they want to. However, they will want to finish top of the group to avoid playing France in the next round and will go all out to get the win. A win for Croatia could open the door for Argentina to finish 2nd and that might come into play. All sorts of connotations for the final games in Groups but the best connotation is simply to Win and worry about your own team and no one else.
Croatia Win 2-0
Contact John Newsome, with your own predictions, requests and feedback, at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org