FMM18 World Cup Day 6

Begin reading from the introduction

Recap on yesterday’s matches.

Re-read the last Group A matches.

Group H – Japan V Wales

Wales open their first World Cup finals game since 1958 against the team they will be expected to battling for third place in the group. Japan lose Daisuke Nagatomo to injury in the 8th minute, but it doesn’t have an impact on their defence, which holds firm. Whether it has an impact on their attack is open to debate, but Wales’ run at Euro 2016 was based on a miserly defence. It’s a point apiece, but both have the two favourites to qualify from the group to play.

Group A – South Korea V Russia

Another game with five goals. However, this one is the first that can accurately be described as a five-goal thriller. Jae-Sung Choe silences the crowd in the 14th minute by putting South Korea in the lead. Shock replaces silence in the 28th minute when Heung-Min Son doubles South Korea’s lead. Suk Hyun-Jun is replaced six minutes later after getting injured, but it doesn’t have an impact on South Korea; in fact, they extend their lead in the 58th minute through In-Jae Myung. With Russia sinking without trace, Alexandr Kokorin scores a consolation goal in the 69th minute. One minute later, it appears as though it could be more than a consolation goal as Vasily Berezutskiy pulls Russia to within one goal. However, they are unable to build on this in the last 20 minutes and although suffering a scare, South Korea hold on to record the victory.

Group H – Belgium V Argentina

The opening round of matches are completed with Belgium and Argentina playing their opening fixture in Group H. They have watched the other 30 teams play their opening game (Russia and South Korea have played two), but finally their campaigns are underway. Belgium make the better start, with Yannick Carrasco opening the scoring in the 8th minute. He adds his second in the 22nd minute and completes his hat-trick in the 30th minute. A Belgium win would not necessarily be a surprise, but few would have predicted them leading by three goals inside half an hour. Things get worse for Argentina in the 38th minute with the dismissal of Nicolas Otamendi. Belgium add a fourth in the 52nd minute, with Carrasco getting the final touch again. Argentina are reduced to nine men on the hour, with Facundo Roncaglia seeing red. Sergio Aguero pulls one back in the 66th minute, but Carrasco adds his (and Belgium’s) fifth in the 75th minute to complete the rout. If Carrasco can keep up that level of goal scoring, he’ll beat Just Fontaine’s record number of goals in a World Cup (13 goals in the 1958 World Cup) in the group stages and finish the tournament with 35 goals (assuming Belgium reach the final or third-placed playoff, which would surely be a formality when scoring at least five a game).

After the opening games in Group H, the table looks like:

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FMM18 World Cup Day 5

Recap on the groups.

Recap on yesterday’s matches.

Group G – Uruguay V Germany

The World Cup holders would surely have been hoping for an easier group than the one they find themselves in. They could certainly have an easier opening match than Uruguay. Rodrigo Aguirre’s match comes to an end nine minutes in due to injury. Christian Jung strikes for the defending champions with two minutes to go until half time. The second half sees the physios called in to action again as Germany lose Uwe Stuckmann to injury on the hour, whilst Emiliano Valazquez’s game for Uruguay is curtailed in the 63rd minute. It’s victory at a price for Germany, but Uruguay have lost twice as many players but with no points to show for it.

Group F – Ivory Coast V England

It’s day five of the tournament and England grinds to halt over the course of a Tuesday afternoon as England’s campaign begins in the early evening against Ivory Coast. There are surely easier opening fixtures, but there are also tougher ones as well. It’s certainly a good test for Gareth Southgate and his team. England’s opening goal arrives in the 27th minute. Is it Harry Kane? Marcus Rashford? Raheem Sterling? No; Jordan Henderson. Sterling doesn’t get on the scoresheet, but Rashford (61) and Kane (67 & 72) do as an excellent eleven minutes in the second half ensure England will open their campaign with an emphatic win. A Max Gradel goal four minutes from time for Ivory Coast does little to dampen enthusiasm. Cue the press getting carried away about how well England will do…

The Group F table looks like:

Group G – Romania V Mexico

A game that probably goes unnoticed in England due to celebrations following their opening win. Hector Herrera puts Mexico in the lead in the 31st minute. The lead is soon under threat as Carlos Salcedo gets send off three minutes later. Mexico lose Giovani dos Santos to injury ten minutes after half time. Surely there will be more goals? There are. Herrera doubles Mexico’s lead in the 64th minute and Javier Hernandez finds himself in the right place at the right time in the 67th minute. With eight minutes to go, Herrera completes his hat-trick to record a win for a Mexican side that has strengthened as things got tougher. In what is likely to be a tough group to qualify from, it’s the type of result you can’t help but feel will come back to haunt Romania.

The Group G table looks like:

FMM18 World Cup Day 4

Recap on the groups.

Recap on yesterday’s matches

Group E – Australia V Italy

Italy are often associated with cagey single-goal victories. They blow this out of the water with their opening game against Australia. Claudio Marchisio opens the scoring ten minutes in. Andrea Belotti doubles the lead five minute later and Leonardo Bonucci puts the Italians three up inside 23 minutes. Belotti adds a fourth in the 41st minute and completes his hat-trick in the 66th minute to conclude the scoring. Another day, another 5-0 result.

Group E – Chile V Northern Ireland

After Italy’s demolition of Australia, this could prove to be a vital game for both sides. Victory could be a big step towards knockout football, whilst defeat could make things difficult. With so much at stake, perhaps it’s unsurprising that a goalless draw is played out. Chile lose Mauricio Isla to injury in the sixth minute in the only moment of note in the match.

The Group E table looks like:

Group F – Iran V France

It appears to be a tough opening match for Iran. And things only get tougher when Anthony Martial puts France into the lead in the third minute. Martial extends France’s lead in the 31st minute. Alex Delir limps off for Iran in the 38th minute and before they have a chance to readjust, Martial adds his and France’s third one minute later. There’s enough time for Antoine Griezmann to open his account, but with 18 minutes to go when he strikes, it has no impact on the result. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that we don’t see another 5-0 result.

Find out what happens on Day 5.

FMM18 World Cup Day 3

Recap on the groups

Recap on yesterday’s games

Group D – Saudi Arabia V Colombia

Group D opens with Saudi Arabia and Colombia battling it out. Colombia will be expected to qualify from the group and get off to the dream start through Luis Muriel in the third minute. The lead is short-lived and Mohammed Hawsawi equalises for Saudi Arabia eight minutes later. That concludes the scoring and Saudi Arabia emerge with a credible point.

Group C – Portugal V Ghana

The European champions will be expected to qualify from Group C and get off to an emphatic start against Ghana. Andre Silva hits a 13 minute hat-trick (12, 17, 25), whilst goals from Joao Mario (25th minute) and Andre Gomes on the final whistle ensure that victory is never in doubt. It’s a clear statement that Portugal want to add the world title to their European one.

After the first round of matches, Group C looks like:

Group D – South Africa V Denmark

The third day of the tournament concludes with another goal-fest. As seems to be the case, the goals all go for one side as Denmark brush aside South Africa with minimal fuss. A 28 minute hat-trick from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (2, 26, 30) and a brace from Thomas Delaney (17, 79) power Denmark to the top of the group. 5-0 definitely seems to be the scoreline of the tournament so far.

With Group D’s first matches concluding, the table looks like:

Find out what happens on Day 4.

Was the VAR decision to award France a penalty correct?

FMM18 World Cup Day 2

Recap on the groups

Recap on yesterday’s games.

Group B – Costa Rica V Brazil

The heavily-fancied Brazilians open their campaign against Costa Rica, who performed above expectations at the 2014 World Cup. There’s no fairy tale opening match for Costa Rica; Dalbert opens the scoring 13 minutes in and Fernandinho guarantees the win one minute after half time. Joel Campbell limps off with 8 minutes to go, which could have an impact on Costa Rica’s remaining two group games.

Group B – Tunisia V Iceland

Brazil are the strong favourites in the group, with second place up for grabs. Tunisia open the scoring 5 minutes in through Barratli. Abdennour is replaced by the Tunisians in the 19th minute due to injury, but the change doesn’t seem to impact the Tunisians who double their lead in the 32nd minute as Harbaoui scores. With time running out and Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland staring defeat in the face, Bjarnason score twice in 4 minutes to secure a point. Tunisia, leading 2-0 with 12 minutes to go, will definitely see it as two points dropped. Iceland started their unexpected Euro 2016 run with a draw…

The opening round of fixtures for Group B are complete.

Group C – Ukraine V USA

The third and final game of the day sees the start of Group C. Besedin puts Ukraine in to the lead after 36 minutes. Pulisic draws the Americans level in the 68th minute, but the equaliser seems to wake the Ukrainians up and Ordets and Besedin both score to give Ukraine a valuable win.

Find out what happens on Day 3.

FMM18 World Cup Day 1

Recap on the groups

Group A – Russia V Zambia

The hosts kick off the tournament against Zambia. Hopefully, it’s a good omen for the tournament as the goals flow. Unfortunately for Zambia, they all go to Russia who run out convincing winners. Dzagoev gets the hosts off to a perfect start and Glushkov doubles the lead just before half time. Zobnin extends the lead nine minutes into the second half and two goals in two minutes (Dzagoev and Berezutskiy) ensure a Russian win. Zambia lose Basit to injury with 18 minutes left, but it’s only going to have an impact on future matches by that stage. The goal difference for Russia could certainly be useful if the group becomes tight, whilst the opposite will be true for Zambia. Whilst a tournament full of goals would be welcome, closer matches would be better.

Group A: Spain V South Korea

A game that’s much tighter than the opening game. Diego Costa scores the only goal of the game for Spain in the 21st minute. With 14 minutes to go, Seung-Min Kim receives the first red card of the tournament, dashing South Korea’s hopes of finding an equaliser.

Group A’s opening round of fixtures are complete on the opening day of the tournament.

Find out what happens on Day 2