Welcome back to Group D Highlight
With Croatia is already through, the bottom three of group D all still have a chance to go to the knock out stage.
Good for the fans, whoever wants to qualify they need to win! So, we will see some good matches. But additional requirement apply for Iceland and Argentina, although they may win, it is the one who wins the biggest will go through.
So in this regard, Iceland has the least chance as they need to win big against powerful Croatia and Nigeria is the brink to become the first African nation who qualify to the Top 16 FIFA World Cup 2018.
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Nigeria vs Argentina
Pre-match commentary and tipping
- Nigeria may have the underdogs advantage and have a very big motivation to be the first African nation that qualifies to World Cup 2018’s knock out stage. However, the one they meet is not some unknown team, it is the powerful Argentina.
- Argentina may not be in their best form. Messi might miss a penalty and Croatia could be the real dark horse of the tournament that may go pretty far. But Argentina is still a mature team that has comprehensive good defensive and offensive power. And they are really motivated.
- If there is one chance to restore their pride and credibility, this is the match. A good win over Nigeria will bring back all disgruntled fan that lost their faith. If they did that (win elegantly against Nigeria), watch out, France!
- I would believe Argentina would still win. 2-0 for the Argentine.
- Needing desperately to win, Argentina went straight to full attack mode and early at 14′ Messi just do his magic again and secure 1-0 lead for Argentina after what looked like a very easy yet accurate pass from Ever Banega.
- Nigeria who just need a draw as long as Iceland did not win, feel under pressure. But they can do hardly anything significant as the Argentinian hold 66% of ball possession and try to secure even more goal.
- However, Argentina was a bit relaxed at 2nd half who gives Nigeria a bit of air to up their effort.
- On 51′ after a corner kick, looks like Javier Mascherano was asking a tango dance forcibly with Leon Balogun, dragging him down right in front of Penalty. Viktor Moses converted the awarded penalty kick into a goal and Nigeria hope is alive again. He celebrated with a triple backflip!
- Desperate to go back in the front, Argentina increase pressure to Nigeria. But not until almost 4 minutes before the end of the game,
- There was incident at 76′ when Argentinian Marcos Rojo made a handball inside the penalty area. Nigeria put up a protest, but it was deemed not deliberate as he got the ball bounce from his head to his hand, not the other way around. No penalty kick.
- Then comes the moment that devastated Nigeria. Gabriel Mercado made a penetrating run at the right week and make a cross that landed on Marcos Rojo foot who then elegantly drive the ball to the empty path toward the net. 2-1 for Argentina. Even Messi was so happy he came straight away to Rojo back to celebrate, playing piggy-back on the field. A hilarious moment for Argentina, but indeed a sad moment for Nigeria.
Iceland vs Croatia
Pre-match commentary and tipping
- Croatia has been in very good performance. Beating Argentina 3-0 was the very hard proof that they are up to something in this world cup. Probably all the way to final. Breaking their 1998 performance that won them the bronze medal.
- The simple question that probably anyone ask: if Argentina lose 3-0 to Croatia, what chance that Iceland has?
- I would believe it would be uneven game. Croatia will win big and win it easily.
- Croatia 4, Iceland 0.
- Croatia dominated overall with their skill, maintaining 59% ball possession, but maintaining a slow to a medium tempo of play as they already qualify. For Iceland, they need to win the same score or to be exact goal difference with whatever Argentina pulled on Nigeria on the other concurrent match.
- As Argentina was making an early goal at 14′, Iceland significantly up their effort and put Croatia on the defensive for a while.
- Then as they heard that Nigeria made an equaliser on 51′, the inexperience Iceland put their effort in a little bit relax mode. And they surely punished by Croatia.
- Croatia led the score when Pivaric making a penetrating attack at 53′ and before he was about to stumble, he managed to pass the ball to Milan Badelj who finish with a ground-bouncing kick that was difficult for the goalie Halldorsson to anticipate. 1-0.
- Realizing their mistake, Iceland try to get back in the game to equalize and win.
- At 76′, Croatian substitute Dejan Lovren make an innocent handball that punished Croatia with a penalty kick. And Iceland midfielder Gerald Sigurdsson executed it flawlessly to become a goal. 1-1.
- But right at the 90′, Ivan Perisic made another penetrating attack from the left wing and just drive a goal into the net, sending the Iceland home.
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The Group D Standing after the last Group Matches
- Argentina will clash with France in the Top-16 match, while Croatia meets Denmark.
- Iceland and Nigeria got eliminated