France versus Denmark
The French team had made it through to the knock out round of the Russia 2018 World Cup on game day 8 after a narrow 1 nil win over Peru gifted them 6 points from 2 games. They didn’t field their strongest XI for this one and pride of not losing and topping the group did not make them think otherwise. As one of the teams I am rooting for, I expected France to nick this, and as I predicted couple of weeks back, today’s opponents Denmark went through them into the next round. Denmark though were walking on egg shells because needed at least a draw in the game between Australia and Peru to be safe.
A goalless first half between the French and the Scandinavians whilst Peru was leading Australia by a lone goal meant Denmark was safe. The second half must have gone in a flash at my end. Peru had doubled their lead while it was still 0-0 at the Luzhniki Arena where Denmark held their own against a French team that was looking to qualify with maximum points from Group C, a feat they had not achieved since France 98.
The French could not get a goal and the Danes were not fortunate either, with the game ending goalless and not forgetting that it is the first goalless draw at this year’s tourney. As I predicted Denmark join France in the second round as they meet Croatia and Argentina respectively.
Nigeria versus Argentina
A win for Nigeria or maybe or draw would have seen them through to the next round but the Messi led Argentine side did not let that happen. The way the game played out in my head was not how it was played on the pitch. I was expecting Argentina to come out playing like wounded lions and annihilating the Super Eagles of Nigeria. I take back the favourites tag I handed to Argentina before the start of the toruney. This team will not go past the 2nd round, well they would not be standing a chance against France when they meet on Saturday June 30, 2018. Argentina scored in the 14th minute of the first half with a well taken chance by their talisman and captain Lionel Messi but they were not looking convincing and it was apparent that Nigeria would get an equalizer if they were calm in approach. The first half ended 1-0 in Argentina’s favour.
The second half is where the Eagles shine and they got an equalizer in the 51st minute via a spot kick which was buried by Victor Moses.
The job was easy for Nigeria to secure a place in the next round because a couple of minutes after the Moses equalizer, Croatia scored against Iceland which meant as the scores stood Nigeria would qualify for the second round. Iceland scored to level scores with Croatia at 1-1 but the Eagles were still in firm control of a runner-up slot in group D, only for Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo to put Argentina back in the lead in the 86th minute of the game.
Nigerian hearts were broken at this point. The West Africans pushed for an equalizer but it did not come.
The game ended 2-1 in favour of Argentina which means they meet France in the next round while Croatia who beat Iceland 2-1 eventually to secure top place in group D with maximum points (9) will be up against Denmark.
Nigeria joins 3 other teams (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia) on the plane back to Africa with Senegal the only African team looking likely to make it to the second round.
Of the 4 teams I am rooting for Nigeria is out, France and England through to the next round while I await Brazil’s game against Serbia to be sure if they would be playing in the next round.
Nigeria’s elimination will restore traffic back to the street of Lagos. Thanks for your time guys. BLESS !!!