FMM18 World Cup Day 31

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the third place playoff between Belgium and South Korea.

It’s the final day of the tournament and there’s one game; the biggest game in world football. Re-read how Portugal and Italy reached the World Cup Final.

World Cup Final: Portugal V Italy

The current European champions take on the four-time winners on a warm, windy day in Moscow. The last three World Cup Finals have required extra time to settle the argument, with the previous two seeing no goals scored in normal time. The Final follows the pattern of the last two, with neither side able to find a goal. Ten minutes into extra time, there’s a goal; Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo puts the European champions twenty minutes away from their first ever World Cup and the completion of a European/World Cup double. Italy go in desperate search of an equaliser and get one with eight minutes to go as Andrea Belotti pulls the Italians level. The seconds and minutes tick away and it’s going to penalties, something that the Italians have fond memories of from the 2006 World Cup Final. 120 minutes are on the clock and the referee is checking his watch. Italy have one final chance to win the game without requiring penalties and it falls to Belotti. He scores! In the final minute of extra time! Portuguese players slump to the floor, whilst the Italian team pile on to Belotti as the bench erupts. The game kicks off after fairly lengthy Italian celebrations, but Portugal have no chance to equalise and force penalties. Italy are champions of the world for the fifth time.

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FMM18 World Cup Day 29

Read from the introduction.

There are no games today, so lets look at how Italy reached the final.

Group E: V Australia, 5-0 (Andrea Belotti (3), Claudio Marchisio, Leonardo Bonucci)
Group E: V Chile, 4-0 (Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Belotti, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Petagna)
Group E: V Northern Ireland, 1-1 (Marco Veratti)
Last 16: V England, 1-0 (Andrea Petagna)
Quarter Final: V Argentina, 1-0 (Andrea Belotti)
Semi Final: V South Korea, 3-1 (Andrea Belotti, Roberto Gagliardini, Alessio Romagnoli)

Find out what happens on Day 30.

FMM18 World Cup Day 27

Read from the introduction.

Re-read the Quarter Final matches for South Korea and Italy.

Semi Final – South Korea V Italy

18th June 2002, Daejeon World Cup Stadium, the Last 16 – South Korea knock out Italy in a controversial match. Now there’s a chance for Italy to gain revenge and secure a place in the World Cup Final. For South Korea, there’s the chance to appear in their first World Cup Final. Portugal await the victors. There’s no slow start to this Semi Final as Seung-Woo Lee puts South Korea into a sixth minute lead. Surely, albeit less controversially, history won’t repeat itself? The South Korean lead lasts until the 24th minute, when Andrea Belotti pulls Italy level. The scores stay level until the 38th minute, when a Roberto Gagliardini goal gives Italy the lead. Two minutes before the break, Kyung-Min Ryu is replaced by South Korea due to injury. The second half is less action-packed, with only one further goal being added; Alessio Romagnoli gives Italy a two-goal cushion in the 76th minute. There’s no way back for South Korea, especially after Heung-Min Son is dismissed in the 83rd minute.

Find out what happens on Day 28.

FMM18 World Cup Day 23

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the Last 16 games for the teams.

Quarter Final – France V Belgium

Two of Europe’s most star-studded attacking sides meet in the Quarter Final. France beat Northern Ireland 1-0, whilst Belgium required penalties to get past Uruguay. France take an early lead through Ousmane Dembele in the 13th lead. It takes Belgium 21 minutes to draw level, with Romelu Lukaku the man who scores. The teams enter the dressing rooms at half time with the score still at 1-1. Despite a wealth of attacking talent, the second half produces no goals. It takes one minute into extra time for there to be another goal; Radja Nainggolan puts Belgium into the lead in the 91st minute. France have 29 minutes to find an equaliser and extra time produces another goal in the 113th minute. The goal is scored by Lukaku and Belgium progress at the expense of France.

Quarter Final – Italy V Argentina

A Quarter Final clash between two countries with six World Cups between them. Argentina knocked out Germany in the Last 16, winning 2-0. 1-0 was good enough for Italy to progress at England’s expense. Argentina are spoilt with attacking talent, whilst Italy’s defence is as strong as ever. The score is level at half time, with neither team having been able to force a breakthrough. With extra time looking the most likely outcome, Andrea Belotti puts Italy into the lead in the 83rd minute. It’s enough for Italy’s campaign to continue as Argentina bow out.

Find out what happens on Day 24.

FMM18 World Cup Day 18

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final matches in Groups E and F.

Last 16 – Northern Ireland V France

France’s topping of Group F sees them take on Northern Ireland in the Last 16. France go into the game as strong favourites, but the game is goalless at half time. Northern Ireland are able to repel French attacks until the 69th minute, when Ousmane Dembele fires the French into the lead. France are unable to add more goals, but it doesn’t matter as Northern Ireland are unable to get themselves back into the game. Whilst France were expected to win by more, they’ve scored enough to ensure they progress.

Last 16 – Italy V England

Italy topped Group E and take on England. Gary Lineker welcomes viewers by asking if England can get ‘pasta’ Italy and progress to the Quarter Finals. Italy suffer a blow in the 5th minute when Marco Veratti goes off injured. England suffer a blow of their own in the 14th minute when Raheem Sterling also heads to the dressing room early due to injury. With two minutes to go until half time, Andrea Petagna puts the Italians into the lead. Italy take the lead into half time, but they will have to defend their lead with only 10 men in the second half due to Giorgio Chiellini getting sent off one minute before half time. A man advantage gives England a great chance of progressing to the Quarter Finals, but if there’s one team that can defend a one-goal lead successfully, it’s typically Italy. And so it proves, as England are unable to score against the Italians.

Find out what happens on Day 19.

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.

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.