FMM18 World Cup Day 14

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the previous games in Group E and Group F.

Group E – Chile V Australia & Northern Ireland V Italy

Going into the final matches, the Group E table looks like:

Another group in which qualification all but looks certain. Only a good win for Chile and a big loss for Northern Ireland will see Chile pip Northern Ireland for qualification. Italy have qualified and a draw against Northern Ireland will see them top the table, with Northern Ireland joining them as qualifiers.

Chile know they need goals as well as Northern Ireland losing to Italy. The slim chance of qualification becomes slimmer in the 20th minute when Chris Ikonomidis puts Australia into the lead. Italy lose Claudio Marchisio to injury in the 37th minute as their game reaches half time at 0-0, whilst Australia take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room. Italy take the lead in the 51st minute through Marco Verratti, but with the score in the other game, it has no impact on the group and Northern Ireland’s chances of qualifying. Northern Ireland ensure that it will be impossible to miss out in the 61st minute when Craig Cathcart pulls them level. Two minutes after Northern Ireland have equalised, Brad Inman limps off for Australia as they try to hold on to their lead. They’re not successful; Marcelo Diaz levels for Chile in the 76th minute. Any hopes they have of going on a goal spree and qualifying if Italy take the lead is immediately extinguished as Pablo Hernandez sees red.

Italy have, as would have been expected, qualified from the group as winners. Second place was up for grabs and Northern Ireland were able to secure it, three points ahead of Chile who were arguably the favourites to secure the second qualifying spot. It was a World Cup to forget for Australia, who finished bottom of the group.

Group F – England V France & Ivory Coast V Iran

Going into the final round of matches, the table looks like:

A group in which qualification is in no doubt, with England and France having both won their opening games to progress to the Last 16 – all that remains to be settled is who qualifies as group winners. England are currently favourites as they are currently topping the table, so a draw will be enough for them to set up a Home Nations clash with Northern Ireland, whilst a loss to France will mean it will be Italy for England in the Last 16. The other game in the group gives Ivory Coast and Iran a chance to record a victory.

France and England are both aware that topping the group will mean avoiding Italy and France take the lead through Antoine Griezmann in the 28th minute; ten minutes later, Samuel Umtiti doubles the French lead. Assane Gnoukouri puts Ivory Coast into the lead in the 41st minute as they take a 1-0 lead into half time over Iran, whilst France keep their 2-0 lead over England. Eight minutes into the second half, Masoud Nasehi limps off injured for Iran. Seydou Doumbia adds a second goal for Ivory Coast in the 64th minute, before Wilfried Zaha ensures that Ivory Coast will record a victory with a goal in the 78th minute. One minute later, Raphael Varane puts France into a commanding 3-0 lead to ensure they will qualify as group winners.

The group has finished as was expected, with France impressively qualifying without conceding. England join them in progressing to the Last 16, although pre-match triumphalism has been toned down after a heavy final game defeat and satisfaction of qualifying and looking forward to the knockout stages replaces it. Ivory Coast finish third, but didn’t trouble the two qualifiers as much as they would have hoped. Iran finished bottom of a tough group.

Find out what happens on Day 15.

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FMM18 World Cup Day 9

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s matches.

Re-read the previous games in Group D and Group E

Group E – Italy V Chile

It’s a perfect start for the Italians as Claudio Marchisio puts them into the lead with just four minutes on the clock. Things get worse for Chile nine minutes later as Fabian Orellana is forced off with an injury. Andrea Belotti doubles Italy’s lead in the 38th minute, giving them a two-goal lead at half time. The two-lead lasts for one minute of the second half. Giorgio Chiellini makes things even more comfortable for the Italians. With four minutes remaining, Andrea Petagna adds a fourth as the Italians dispel the myth about them being slow starters.

Group D – Denmark V Saudi Arabia

The Danes are favourites going into the match and it doesn’t take long for them to show why. Fourteen minutes to be precise. Christian Eriksen is the man who puts them in the lead. It takes them until the 71st minute to feel safe, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg adding the second. Even an injury to Nicolai Jorgensen in the 77th minute doesn’t give Saudi Arabia a way back into the game as Denmark record their second win.

After the second round of matches, the Group D table looks like:

Group E -Northern Ireland V Australia

After Italy’s win over Chile, a win for either side here would put them in a great place to qualify for the last 16. Northern Ireland draw first blood through Craig Cathcart in the 43rd minute. The second half is only six minutes old when Stuart Dallas doubles the lead. For Australia to fight back, something needs to happen quickly. Something does happen quickly. They are reduced to ten men in the 52nd minute, with Lyndon Dykes taking the long walk to a lonely early bath. Northern Ireland don’t add any further goals with the man advantage, but they’ve done enough to record an important victory.

After the second round of matches, the Group E table looks like:

Find out what happens on Day 10.

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.

Was the VAR decision to award France a penalty correct?

Russia 2018 – Group C

France, Denmark, Australia and Peru make up Group C. I expect France to qualify as group winners, with the other three teams competing for second. I think that Denmark V Peru will be the key game in determining who joins France in the Last 16. It’s the opening match for the two teams in the group and whoever loses will have to play catch-up. I think that the second qualifier from the group will be Denmark.

Leave a comment with your prediction for Group C.

Read my predictions for Groups A, B, D, E, F, G, H and the knockout matches.

Should Steve Smith have been given out?

After lots of replays, Steve Smith was judged to have been caught by Jos Buttler. Check out the video from BT Sport to decide and then vote