Of the 8 games played so far at the Russia 2018 World Cup, I saw 6. I missed the Argentina versus Iceland game because I was really tired and sleepy. Its been a somewhat bitter sweet weekend for me, but GOD has got his own. Was not interested in the Peru and Denmark game because I thought it would be a boring one though I had predicted the Danish side would win. I later found out it was a good one and that the Peruvians played well, though they missed the chance of getting a goal after missing a penalty late in the first half.
I have seen a lot of World Cup games in my lifetime and I must confess the Portugal versus Spain game has been the best I have seen in a while, way ahead of the France 98’s Spain against Nigeria match which ended 3-2 in favour of the Super Eagles. I mean the game between Portugal and Spain on Friday night was more than a game. In the words of a friend that was” a game and a half”. Ronaldo came through with a hattrick ensuring Spain did not cart away with all 3 points in a game that ended 3-3. If you asked me it put to bed the debate of who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (remember my thoughts). I digress.
So of the 4 teams (Brazil, France, England and Nigeria) I am following closely at the tourney 2 played yesterday. France was up against Australia while Nigeria took on Croatia.
France Vs Australia
I expected more from the French team and I would say they were lucky to have won the game. They did not play as favourites to win the tournament one bit despite having a squad to envy. It could be the first game Blues, but Le Bleus as they are fondly called need to get their act together in subsequent games because I doubt they would be this lucky again. Thanks to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) France would probably at best gotten a draw, because the ref had overlooked a clear penalty that was in their favour.
The French side beat the Socceroos 2-1 with Antoine Griezmann (penalty) and Paul Pogba getting the goals for them. Mile Jedinak got the consolatory goal for Australia via a spot kick.
The French side did not dominate this game as much as expected, the Australian side were difficult to break down. I am expecting to see Olivier Giroud start the next game for France and I thought Paul Pogba was a bit sluggish in the game. I however still believe Australia won’t make it through to the next round despite having a good game against France. If they picked up a draw maybe they would have had a chance.
I strongly stand by the prediction I made in my last article, that France and Denmark would qualify for the second round.
Nigeria Vs Croatia
I had written in my last post that Nigeria would not make it out of their group and this is not because they are not good enough but the team lacks enough experienced players to get by. I told a friend the lads are not mentally prepared for the tourney, I might be wrong but pardon me. I notice they are always awful in the first half and come out guns blazing in the second. This is a game of 90 minutes, you need to be at your best from the get-go till the end. I won’t blame the tactics deployed by the manager even though I expected a 2 man strike force upfront compared to the lone striker deployed.
The Croats nicked this one with a 2-0 win and it was not that they were way better than the Nigerian side but they were more purposeful. An own goal from the man of the match on the Nigerian side; Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty well taken by Luka Modric after Mario Mandzukic was clumsily fouled in the box by Troost Ekong were all Croatia needed to seal all 3 points.
Mathematically, Nigeria still have a chance to make it through to the knockout round but they have to ensure they pick up at least 4 points and hope the other results go their way (our standard plan B).
I would like the Super Eagles coach to pair the striker, Odion Ighalo with another striker or play an Alex Iwobi behind him while Mikel dictates play for the team in a deeper central midfield role.
I still see Argentina joining Croatia in the next round, though my friend still believes the STARS are aligned in Nigeria’s favour to win the tourney citing Spain also lost their first World Cup game in 2010.
Thanks for your time guys and enjoy the rest of the weekend. BLESS!!!