We’re into the second week of the 2018 World Cup and I must say the first was full of unexpected results.
As we advance into Week 2, where several teams have the chance to secure a place in the next round, we are bound to see more surprises and most definitely, more goals. And thanks to VAR, we’ll be sure to witness more penalties! Here we preview the best games happening this week:
France vs Peru
First stage – Group C, Ekaterinburg Arena
21 June 2018 – 11:00pm (GMT +8)
Peru was on the losing end of a lacklustre Denmark side and the exclamation point came when the Peruvians missed a penalty. Gareca’s men have the attacking capabilities to score a lot of goals, but it was Schmeichel who literally single-handedly denied them at every turn. The question now is whether or not France’s defence can hold them out. Deschamps was quite fortunate to squeeze out a victory against Australia the last time out. We weren’t able to see the flair of the French attack and if they fail to show up again, Peru could nick one past them and revive their World Cup run. All the Peruvians need to do is to be more clinical in front of goal.
Prediction: France 1-1 Peru
Argentina vs Croatia
First stage – Group D, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
22 June 2018 – 2:00am (GMT +8)
The two favourites in Group D will meet in what could be a cagey affair. Croatia do have a victory to their name, but their attack was nowhere to be found while Modric and Rakitic untiringly pulled the passes in the middle of the park in the match against Nigeria. Argentina’s attack was unceremoniously subdued by Iceland, but it’s obvious that if they were given the room to play, any defence will be punished by the prowess of Aguero and Messi. So something will have to give in this tie. Croatia will be going all out to secure a spot in the last 16 while the Argentineans will be chasing a way back to form. Expect Messi to be cancelled out once again, but this time we could see the utilisation of Dybala to add the extra aptitude upfront.
Prediction: Argentina 1-0 Croatia
Brazil vs Costa Rica
First stage – Group E, Saint Petersburg Stadium
22 June 2018 – 8:00pm (GMT +8)
After the dismal showing against a gutsy Switzerland side in their opening game, Brazil will be out for blood when they face Costa Rica – a team that has never beaten the Samba Boys in over 20 years. The Costa Ricans did not help themselves when they failed to capitalise on their opportunities against the Serbians. Their game plan was to attack on the wings, but they were caught out with a set-piece. Honestly, the Serbians aren’t that good in the final third – unlike the Brazilians who are constantly pacey and tricky. Tite’s men will be scoring goals in this encounter and with VAR in full effect, we could see a couple of penalties given.
Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica
Germany vs Sweden
First stage – Group F, Fisht Stadium
24 June 2018 – 2:00am (GMT +8)
Mexico shocked the world when they came away with a 1-0 win over Germany in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup. Their strength is clear – they are very fast and have the ability to hit defences on the counter attack with ease. But their weakness, however, lies in finishing. One thing we can say for sure is that Sweden are not like the Mexicans and this only means that the Germans have a chance to pick themselves up and press on for their title defence. Low will have to fix his team that had no clear chances and no defensive intelligence against Mexico. He has the players – all he needs is the right strategy to get the wins. Perhaps he could be regretting the fact that he cut Sane from the squad – a player that has the pace and wherewithal to make a difference in attack.
Prediction: Germany 2-0 Sweden
England vs Panama
First stage – Group G, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
24 June 2018 – 8:00pm (GMT +8)
This one has an upset written all over it, but considering how we haven’t seen these two sides open their campaign, it could go either way. Regrettably, Panama are arguably one of the weakest sides in this year’s tournament, so their game plan at every turn should be a defensive one. England are expected to win against Tunisia while Belgium are heavily backed to punish Panama in the Group G opener this week. If the Three Lions are as good as they claim to be on paper, Panama has no real chance to come away with anything. Unless of course, if the English get complacent and decide to gift points.
Prediction: England 1-0 Panama