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FIFA Fever: Russia poised to enter Top 16; Portugal looks for elusive win

Russia is steadily marching on to the Final 16 stage after yet another win (3-1), this time against Egypt. The team tops Group A with 6 points, having won its opening match against Saudi Arabia. 

FIFA World Cup 2018 is turning out to be a tournament of upsets. After the shock defeat of Germany, Japan defeated Colombia 2-1; meanwhile, Senegal managed to retain the African pride by defeating Poland 2-1. 

Morocco really needed their first win against Iran as the other contenders in Group B are Portugal and Spain. But fate had other plans as Aziz Bouhaddouz’s 95th minute own goal pushed backed Morocco into a corner. In today’s match (June 20, 2018) against Portugal, Morocco will have to pull off a miracle or go home. They must come up with a strategy that will put Portugal on the backfoot. 

Portugal escaped defeat thanks to the hattrick by its captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo against Spain. They will be looking to steamroll Morocco to safely make it to the quarter-finals. While Portugal plays a more aggressive-offensive style, the Moroccans are more tactical in their approach. Morocco will be watching and marking Ronaldo closely, so it could be an opportune moment for 22-year old forward Andre Silva to make his mark. 

Uruguay stole the lead in the final moments of their match against Egypt. Under no circumstances can their victory be viewed as an easy one. After going neck and neck with Egypt, Uruguay will look to emerge as the second top team in Group A. Their tie against Saudi Arabia will be a crucial one for both teams, as the Saudis would be definitely going for a win. 

This will be Saudi Arabia’s first match against a South American team. After going down to Russia in the opening match, the Saudi team will be looking for a more attacking play against Uruguay. Captain Osama Hawsawi, who proved too slow to keep up with the young Russians’ pace, must make way for players who are more agile to deal with the likes of Luiz Suarez and Edison Cavani. Saudi Arabia will be put to intense scrutiny in their match against Uruguay. 

While Iran’s 1-0 victory against Morocco was just a fortuitous turn of events, it has put them in the top position in Group B. If they play their cards right and mitigate the damage that may be afflicted by Spain, Iran might be in a prime position to qualify from their Group. A victory seems unlikely, but with the recent string of underdog upsets that have peppered the WC, we cannot ignore the possibility. All we can say is fortune smiles on the prepared. 

Iran will face Spain, which will be looking for a win at any cost as their earlier tie with Portugal ended in a 3-3 draw. The team had displayed some brilliant play in that match and fans are expecting some more exciting footwork from Diego Costa after his successful bids against Portugal. 

Day 7 begins with Portugal vs Morocco tie at 5.30 pm (IST), followed by Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia at 8.30 pm (IST), and the final match between Spain and Iran at 11.30 pm. This marks the second round of the Group qualifiers that will decide the top 16 teams. Stream your favourite content by downloading the SonyLIV app. Enjoy 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and India’s Tour of England and more only on SonyLIV. Subscribe to the Super Sports 6 months pack at Rs 199.

This is where each team stands currently:

Group

Team

Win

Draw

Loss

Points

Group A

Russia

1

0

0

6

Uruguay

1

0

0

3

Egypt

0

0

1

0

Saudi Arabia

0

0

1

0

Group B

Iran

1

0

0

3

Portugal

0

1

0

1

Spain

0

1

0

1

Morocco

0

0

1

0

 

Group C

France

1

0

0

3

Denmark

1

0

0

3

Australia

0

0

1

0

Peru

0

0

1

0

 

Group D

Croatia

1

0

0

3

Argentina

0

1

0

1

Iceland

0

1

0

1

Nigeria

0

0

1

0

Group E

Serbia

1

0

0

3

Brazil

0

1

0

1

Switzerland

0

1

0

1

Costa Rica

0

0

1

0

 

Group F

Sweden

1

0

0

3

Mexico

1

0

0

3

Germany

0

0

1

0

Korea Republic

0

0

1

0

 

Group G

Belgium

1

0

0

3

England

1

0

0

3

Tunisia

0

0

1

0

Panama

0

0

1

0

 

Group H

Japan

1

0

0

3

Senegal

1

0

0

3

Poland

0

0

1

0

Colombia

0

0

1

0

 

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