FMM18 World Cup Day 30

Read from the introduction.

The penultimate day of the tournament sees one game; re-read how Belgium and South Korea ended up in the penultimate match.

Third Place Playoff – Belgium V South Korea

Both sides need to pick themselves up after a two-goal Semi Final loss. The Third Placed Playoff is often described as the game that no-one want to be in and for Vincent Kompany, he’s only involved for three minutes before injury forces him to leave the field. Belgium shrug off the loss of Kompany and take the lead through Yannick Carrasco with 26 minutes on the clock. Belgium don’t add to their lead in the first half, but maintain it going into the break. They double the lead within a minute of the second half kicking off; Carrasco adds his and Belgium’s second. The situation is looking desperate for South Korea, but looks to become impossible in the 74th minute when Mousa Dembele adds Belgium’s third goal. Thomas Vermaelen is sent off in the 75th minute in another blow to the Belgium defence, but the ten men see out the victory to claim third place.

Find out what happens on Day 31.

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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 22

Read from the introduction.

Recap on the previous day of games.

Re-read how the teams won their Last 16 matches.

Quarter Final – South Korea V Ukraine

It would have been a brave person who bet on the opening Quarter Final match being between South Korea and Ukraine. Victory over Denmark secured Ukraine’s place, whilst South Korea pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by beating Brazil. Hyun-Jun Kang goes off injured for the South Koreans in the 33rd minute. If it has an impact on them, it’s not a negative one – Sung-Yeung Ki puts them into the lead five minutes later, a lead they take into the break. They keep the lead throughout the second half, but are unable to add to it, so Ukraine are always in the game but unable to find a goal.

Quarter Final – Iceland V Portugal

Iceland were surprise Quarter Finalists at Euro 2016, whilst Portugal were surprise winners. The two meet in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup after Portugal beat Colombia and Iceland beat Russia in the Last 16. Birkir Bjarnason puts Iceland into the lead in the 18th minute. The score remains 1-0 at half time and Iceland are half way to claiming another prized scalp. Things don’t get any better for Portugal at the start of the second half as Fabio Coentrao leaves through injury in the 46th minute. Three minutes later, the scores are level; William Carvalho pulls Portugal level. Andre Silva leaves in the 52nd minute, joining Coentrao on the injury list. The third goal of the game comes in the 66th minute and it goes the way of… Portugal. Raphael Guerreiro is the man who puts Portugal into the lead. Atli Hrafn Andrason becomes the third player of the game to be forced off via injury in the 73rd minute as Iceland suffer this time. With time running out and Iceland throwing bodies forward in search of an equaliser, Adrien Silva puts the tie beyond doubt with Portugal’s third in the 86th minute.

Find out what happens on Day 23.

FMM18 World Cup Day 16

Read from the introduction.

Recap on yesterday’s action.

Re-read the final round of matches in Groups A and B.

Last 16 – Iceland V Russia

Russia’s reward for topping Group A is to take on World Cup debutants Iceland in the Last 16. If Russia had any preconceptions about this being an easy route to the Quarter Finals, Iceland correct them through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson putting the Icelandic team in the lead in the 13th minute. It appears to act as a wake up call to Russia, who hit back almost immediately – Dmitry Poloz equalises in the 17th minute. The equalising goal doesn’t appear to discourage Iceland from their task and Hordur Magnusson puts Iceland back in the lead in the 26th minute. The score remains at 2-1 going into half time. As the second half progresses, Russia need to attack more to at least take the game into extra time. With sixteen minutes to go, Viktor Karl Heimisson is forced to go off injured. As with conceding an equalising goal earlier, Iceland remain focused on their task. Alexandr Kokorin goes off injured in the 86th minute as the hosts run out of ideas and exit the tournament and Iceland progress to the Quarter Finals like they did at Euro 2016.

Last 16 – South Korea V Brazil

After topping Group B as expected, Brazil find themselves against South Korea. Sung-Yeung Ki scores in the 9th minute to put the South Koreans into the lead, a situation that perhaps not many outside the South Korean camp would have thought likely. Their task is now very simple – prevent the Brazilians scoring for the next 81 minutes. The first step is to reach half time in the lead, which they manage to do. Three minutes into the second half, Brazil lose Bernard to injury. Brazil continue to look for the equaliser, but the South Korean defence is resolute and the five-time champions are surprisingly eliminated by the South Koreans in the biggest shock of the tournament so far.

Find out what happens on Day 17.

FMM18 World Cup Day 12

Start from the introduction.

Re-read yesterday’s action.

Recap on the previous games in Group A and Group B.

Group B – Iceland V Brazil & Tunisia V Costa Rica

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

Brazil are, as everyone expected, safely through to the knockout stages. They will finish as runners-up if they lose to Iceland, who only require a draw to ensure qualification to the knockout matches. They could still qualify even if they lose, but Tunisia would either need to record a big win or hope that Brazil record a big win over Iceland.

Tunisia start well and take the lead in the 10th minute through Saber Hraiech. Costa Rica lost Christian Duarte to injury in the 32nd minute. At half time, Tunisia are leading 1-0, whilst Brazil V Iceland are drawing 0-0. Tunisia have 45 minutes to rescue their campaign and set out accordingly. Saber Hraiech grabs his (and Tunisia’s) second in the 48th minute as bodies start to flood forwards in search of goals. Yohan Benalouane adds a third in the 62nd minute, before a quickfire double from Housem Maamria (77th and 81st minute) puts Tunisia into a commanding lead. Aymen Abdennour also scores in the 81st minute and Tunisia’s approach changes; they need to ensure they don’t concede, whilst hoping Brazil can find a way past the Icelandic defence. Even a 1-0 victory for Brazil will see Tunisia qualify at the expense of Iceland. All eyes turn to the other game, but it finishes goalless in a result that suited both Brazil and Iceland.

As expected, Brazil have qualified unbeaten and as group winners and are joined by debutants Iceland.

Group A – Spain V Russia & South Korea V Zambia

Going into the final matches, the table looks like:

Spain are topping the group, but depending on results could miss out on qualification on goal difference. However, the most likely outcome seems to be one of South Korea or Russia missing out. The hosts are currently in the stronger position, but they have to play the group leaders, whilst South Korea take on a Zambian side that has leaked eight goals in two games…

Dennis Glushakov puts the Russians ahead after 9 minutes of their game against Spain. The South Korean, who know they need goals, score in the eleventh minute. Dennis Glushakov doubles his tally and Russia’s lead in the fifteenth minute, strengthening their position and putting the second qualification spot in doubt. Fedor Smolov goes off injured after 18 minutes, but it has little impact on their performance with the crowd cheering them on. Goals remain important for South Korea and Heung-Min Son doubles their lead in the 21st minute. At half time, Russia lead Spain 2-0 and South Korea are beating Zambia by the same scoreline. Sixteen minutes into the second half, Jae-Hoon Na adds a third for South Korea. It’s becoming very clear that if Spain are to qualify, they need to find two goals. South Korea add a fourth through Heung-Min Son in the 80th minute; it boosts their goal difference, but has little impact on the group. Spain V Russia is the match to watch if things are going to change in the group, but Spain are unable to find a goal.

It’s a tight finish to the group with three teams finishing on six points. The hosts have qualified as group winners, whilst South Korea have snatched second. Spain have surprisingly failed to qualify from a group that they would have expected to at least qualify from and probably win. Even more surprising is that they were topping the group going into the final game.

Find out what happens on Day 13.

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:

Find out what happens on Day 7.

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