FIFA World Cup 2018: Matchday Preview-Knocking at Knock Out

The end of group stages comes closer as the qualification scenarios get clearer in Group A and Group B.
Unlike the first two rounds of matches, both matches in the group will kick-off at the same time.

Group A
Russia vs Uruguay
Unlike most other groups, the qualification is all done and dusted for group A, with both Russia and
Uruguay already qualified after winning their first two games. However, the winner of this match will get
to top the group, which can be an important outcome since it allows them to have a relatively easy draw
in the knockout stages. A draw would also be enough for Russia because of their superior goal
difference. This should be a close game as Russia have been in tremendous goal-scoring form but
Uruguay have some real quality and experience in their ranks.
Watch out for Denis Cheryshev – the former Real Madrid winger already has three goals in the first two
games and his form will be essential to get past the likes of Diego Godin in the Uruguay defense.

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt
With both participants in this match already knocked out, it’s all about playing for pride for these two
nations. Egypt have a lot resting on this game because they have never won any of their six World Cup
games, and would not want to take another step towards beating Honduras’ record of nine games
without a victory.
Watch out for Mohamed Salah – the record-breaking winger has had an abysmal World Cup after a
wonderful season with Liverpool and he will be hoping to end the World Cup on a high.

Group B
Iran vs Portugal
An Iranian win in the Mordovia Arena would mean history as it would be the first time ever they qualify
for the knockout stages, and this might be the best chance they get against a leaky Portugal side who
kept a World Cup clean sheet in their last game against Morocco for the first time since 2010. Portugal
will be ready to hold out for a draw as it would be enough to ensure their qualification, although they
would want a win to top the group.
Watch out for Goncalo Guedes – the Portuguese forward has worked extremely hard in a weakened
Portuguese attack, and his relentless work in support of Cristiano Ronaldo will be very helpful for the
Iberian side.

Spain vs Morocco
Spain will need a win (and some help from Iran) to top the group in their last group stage match in
Kaliningrad stadium, while Morocco would look to play spoil-sport after their World Cup hopes ended
with defeat in the last game. A Portugal win would be enough as well for Spain regardless of their own
Watch out for David Silva – most of Spain’s gameplay is reliant heavily on quick, slick passing moves and
there aren’t many better than David Silva at that. His vision and link-up play with the like of Costa, Isco
and others will be essential to Spain’s hopes of winning this game.

The last of the second round of games take place tonight as teams from Group G and Group H look to
take another step towards progressing to the round of 16.

Group G: England vs Panama
After narrowly winning their previous game against a resilient Tunisia, England can seal their place in the
next round with a win over Panama, who they face for the very first time. Hopefully the controversy
with the media leaking their probable team sheet for the match doesn’t take the focus away from the
English team. While Panama hope to gasp at the very small chance of remaining alive in the
competition, it should be an easy win for Gareth Southgate’s men at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
Watch out for Jesse Lingard – with Dele Alli expected to be on the bench with a thigh injury, it could
very well be the time for the Manchester United starlet to shine through on the international stage and
provide Kane and co. with the much-needed quality service.

Group H: Japan vs Senegal
Both teams will be looking to confirm their place in the knockout stages after winning their respective
opening games. Senegal have never lost to Japan in the three previous meetings (all friendlies) they
have had, but have also never faced an Asian side in the World Cup. Japan remain hopeful of making it
through even with an injury to the experienced Keisuke Honda, and thus become the first Asian team to
win both their opening two games in a World Cup.
Watch out for Sadio Mane – the Liverpool speedster has bamboozled many defenses in the Premier
League with his pace and guile, and his form will be key to unlocking a usually disciplined Japan defense.

Group H: Poland vs Colombia
Both the favorites for the group now face an uphill task as defeat in this game would mean the end of
any qualification hopes. This last of the second-round matches will take place in the majestic Kazan
arena, and the 45000 odd in attendance can expect some entertainment, particularly as Colombia have
never played a goalless game in the World Cup and the match will feature some top-quality attackers
such as Robert Lewandowski and Radamel Falcao.
Watch out for James Rodriguez – the Colombian midfielder with a wand of a left foot lit up the last
World Cup, and after starting previous game on the bench due to a calf issue, Colombia will be
dependent on him to provide the necessary spark that can help the strikers.

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