FIFA Fever: Tunisia determined to grab 3 points. Will Belgium's defense hold?
In another unexpected upset, Iceland lost to Nigeria yesterday, tallying up the African team's points to 3 in their Group the highest after Croatia. Taking advantage if Iceland’s carelessness, Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa scored two goals against the European side. Perhaps more than Nigeria, it was Argentina that had cause to celebrate because if they defeat Nigeria in their next match they may yet make it to the knockout stages.
Brazil won with a 2 goal lead against Costa Rica although the goals were made at the very last minute. Neymar and Coutinho scored, making this their first goals for the tournament. Switzerland edged past Serbia in a 2-1 victory with goals scored by Xhaqiri and Xhaka, however, Serbia’s Mitrovic did manage to get one goal to his credit.
Among the African national teams that made it to FIFA World Cup Russia, Tunisia was the number one in the FIFA rankings. They were also the first African team to score a goal this WC in their game against England. Tunisia’s played neck to neck with England in the game, however, lost out by the two goals scored by Harry Kane. Tunisia will now face the most formidable team in Group G, Belgium today at 5.30 P.M IST. Belgium’s defense has been left vulnerable with injuries sustained by center-backs Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen. Presented with this opportunity Tunisia could do real damage against Belgium if they take the initiative on the offensive and maintain ball possession. Historically, Belgium has yet to lose to an African team. Neither has Tunisia fared well against European teams. Adding to that Belgium has made 12 appearances at the WC stage. If you compare this to Tunisia’s measly 5 WC appearances, where the farthest they have achieved is qualifying the Group stage, you can guess that Tunisia’s future does not look promising.
We expect to see more goals by Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku who scored twice in their previous game against Panama. Lukaku along with Portugal’s Ronaldo and Russia’s Cheryshev are the favourites to win the Golden Boot this WC. Belgium’s midfield maestro, Eden Hazard is another significant player to watch for in the coming game.
Mexico that has consistently qualified for the WC year after year, finally made their mark in football history, after defeating the defending champions, Germany. A negligent Germany were slow to take the initiative and conceded a goal to “Chucky” Hirving Lozano of Mexico in the 35th minute. Ecstatic Mexicans fans thunderous applause shook the stadium and Germany lost their momentum for the rest of the game. No further goals were scored during the match and Mexico were able to thwart the undefeated streak of the strongest team in this WC.
In their upcoming game against Korea Republic at 8.30 P.M IST, Mexico could be looking at an easy win as the Asian side did not perform well against their previous opponents, Sweden. Mexico’s top scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will be eager to score some goals of his own in this game.
Not all has been positive on the Mexican side however, as the Mexican Football Federation were fined by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee as Mexico’s fans chanted offensive slurs in the first half of the match. This is not the first time they have been held up for such a breach of conduct. We hope the unruly fans do not mar Mexico’s victory with shame.
Korea Republic missed their best chance to qualify for the Group stage, by losing to Sweden in their first game. The likelihood that they will do any better against Mexico is very slim. South Korean striker Son Heung-Min who has been unable to score in previous games will be under tremendous pressure to deliver in this game. Even a draw will be an unsatisfactory result, as their next game will be against Germany.
If the German team has not rallied together after fudging their previous game, no power on earth can help them in the final match of the day against Sweden. Beginning at 11.30 P.M IST, the game between the two European sides will be the highlight of the day. Being in the stronger position by virtue of winning their first match, Sweden could be anticipating making it to the knockout stages, heartened by Germany’s average performance against Mexico. With the pressure mounting upon the defending champions, Germany dare not hold back in the coming game.
Looking at the past we can see things have rarely worked out in Sweden’s favour when faced with Germany. Their defense has crumbled against Germany’s unified offense. Contending with midfielders such as Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Mesut Ozil will make life very hard for the Swedish defense today as well. This year the Swedes might attempt to shift gears as they take on the strongest team in the WC. The repercussions of losing the game have been mitigated because of their early victory against Korea Republic. However, to have any decent shot at winning the WC, Sweden must defeat this mammoth of a team.
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