The third group games in Groups A-D on Monday and Tuesday, with two teams from each group headed to the knock-out stages
Monday 25th June
3pm Uruguay v Russia
Both teams have qualified for the knock-out stages with two wins from two matches and this therefore is a battle for who can win the group, though the prospect of facing either Spain or Portugal in the round of 16 isn’t that appetising
Russia are in pole position thanks to their goals scored and goal difference but Uruguay haven’t conceded a goal yet with Godin and Gimenez to the fore protected by the Betancaur/Vecino pivot
At the prices, Uruguay 6-4 the draw 9-4 and Russia 5-2, Russia have to be the value
7pm Spain v Morocco
Morocco must be one of the best teams to have exited the World Cup after two games, both losses. They badly miss a cutting edge up front despite a very solid defensive core. Spain are battling top spot with Portugal and a in in the group looks like it will get them into the half of the draw away from many of the big teams
At 1/3 outright backing Spain isn’t that appealing a prospect, backing Spain to win to nil at 5/6 more so
Tuesday 26th June
3pm Denmark v France
Denmark were perhaps unfortunate to only draw with Australia but go into this match with 4 points and possibly needing something from the game depending on Australia’s fortunes against Peru. That’s not going to be easy as France have won two out of two without every appealed that convincingly from a tactical perspective
The draw at 5/2 has to be a possibility here given the dynamics of group position
7pm Iceland v Croatia
Croatia filleted Argentina to go to six points and win the group. Their experienced and talented midfield could well take them far in this competition. I am writing before Iceland’s game against Nigeria but it is all to play for with regard to second in the group and qualification.
The Croatia manager has already indicated widespread team changes to keep players fresh for the last sixteen. The draw at 3/1 given Iceland’s defensive prowess has to be too big.
7pm Nigeria v Argentina
Argentina’s problems were laid bare by Croatia with problems both in defence and at goalkeeper and with an inability of a very pedestrian midfield to get Messi the ball in space, and he himself has looked an isolated figure. Nigeria themselves were very disappointing in their first game but at least have a 4-2 friendly victory over Argentina in February to give them confidence
I might take a shot at Nigeria at 9/1 here. How motivated are Argentina going to be?