Published on by Darren8196
Groups E, F and H saw upsets galore last time, with all of the big nations dropping valuable points in games they’d have been expected to win, making this next set of games that bit more important.
Nigeria v Iceland
Nigeria will be hoping that they can make their performances memorable with some big wins, rather than only being remembered for their kits and fashion choices. A disappointing display against Croatia means that they need to pick up points against both Iceland and Argentina to be in with a chance of qualifying.
Iceland were sort of written off after their EURO campaign, with many not expecting them to be able to replicate those performances on the world stage. They were proven wrong. Their defensive solidity proved too much for arguably the best front line in world football to break down, with keeper Halldorsson’s heroics saving them on multiple occasions.
Nigeria didn’t show much of their attacking ability against Croatia, and I feel like they may be able to do so against an Icelandic side who prefer to sit back and hit on the counter. That being said, I feel like Iceland are more than capable of keeping out the majority of Nigeria’s attacks, and with Sigurðsson’s creativity, they should be able to sneak a win.
My Prediction: Iceland win
Match played: Friday 22nd, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Serbia v Switzerland
Serbia pulled off a big win over Costa Rica thanks to an excellent late free kick from Kolarov. They will be hoping to push on and get another win to secure their spot in the next round with a game to spare. Their squad, particularly in midfield, is very strong, with the likes of Milinkovic-Savic, Matic and Tadic among their ranks.
Switzerland held out well against Brazil, only conceding to an excellent strike from Coutinho. Built on a very solid defence, they will take a lot of confidence from their opener and know that the point they picked up is one that they may not have been expecting, but gives them a big advantage over both of their other group rivals who still have to face Brazil.
This game could well be the decider as to who will finish second, with a Serbia win almost guaranteeing Switzerland’s exit, if Brazil win, while a win for the Swiss will give them a big upper hand over Serbia going into the last matchday. This will be a close game, and you may be able to tell better in the first 20 minutes of the game, but pre-game I feel like Switzerland have the slight upper hand.
My Prediction: Switzerland win
Match played: Friday 22nd, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Belgium v Tunisia
Belgium looked a bit shaky going forward in the first half against Panama, until a superb strike from FIFA Mobile legend Dries Mertens opened the game up and allowed them to play with a lot more freedom.
Tunisia showed everyone that they are not to be underestimated, causing England’s attack lots of hassle. However, they looked very vulnerable at the back, playing countless risky passes in and around their own box that Belgium will no doubt be hoping to take advantage of.
Belgium will have some high confidence after a solid win in their opener, and will feel like the group is theirs for the winning, and a win this time out will confirm their place in the next round.
My Prediction: Belgium win
Match played: Saturday 23rd, 1:00 p.m. (BST) / 8:00 a.m. (EST)
South Korea v Mexico
South Korea were on the receiving end of a VAR reviewed penalty, which turned out to be decisive as Sweden won 1-0. They will need to pick up in performance level after what was an overall disappointing performance in that game,
Mexico pulled off what was perhaps the biggest upset of the opening matchday, beating a very poor Germany side 1-0. That result gives them a massive advantage, both psychologically and in terms of points, as they know that they have picked up three valuable points against their toughest opponents. No doubt South Korea and Sweden won’t offer them as much going forward, with Kimmich and Plattenhardt’s advanced positions often leaving Germany short at the back and allowing Mexico to counter with a man advantage.
Mexico will be the favourites for this one, and I feel like they are the more likely of the two teams to win this one, with their attacking talents causing Korea’s defence lots of issues.
My Prediction: Mexico win
Match played: Saturday 23rd, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Germany v Sweden
Germany suffered a shock defeat to Mexico, in a game where they looked as if they couldn’t be bothered and had a lack of awareness of Mexico’s counter attacking ability, with Kimmich and Plattenhardt both spending more time in their opponents half than their own. The reigning champions were missing Hector at left back, and seemed to lack creativity in Draxler, Ozil and Kroos, so they may see some changes there with the likes of Reus and Goretzka waiting in the wings for their chance to impress.
Sweden came away with three points in their narrow 1-0 win over South Korea thanks to a penalty from veteran defender Granqvist. They will be happy with a solid defensive display, not conceding a single shot on target in the 90+ minutes and created several chances for themselves to score from.
Germany are clear favourites here, and face a very different team in terms of style and strengths in this game compared to their opener. I feel like Sweden’s strengths will play more into Germany’s favour, so I’m going with the Germans to win this one.
My Prediction: Germany win
Match played: Saturday 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
England v Panama
England fans still seem to be a mix of “we have no chance” and “it’s coming home” after their edgy 2-1 win over Tunisia. They were on to for large parts of the game, but no real cutting edge and two goals from corners doesn’t exactly inspire high confidence, especially against a fairly poor Tunisia side.
Panama had a solid first half against Belgium, before the Red Devils turned on the style and ran away with the second half. They will no doubt play just as defensively and hope to keep out England for longer than they managed in their opener, and maybe sneak a goal on a counter.
England are clear favourites for this, and despite their many misses last game, I can’t see them failing to score all of their chances again this time out.
My Prediction: England win
Match played: Sunday 24th, 1:00 p.m. (BST) / 8:00 a.m. (EST)
Japan v Senegal
Japan and Senegal both came away as victors against my predictions last time, with Japan getting very lucky with an early penalty and red card for Colombia almost helping them to victory. They didn’t look overly impressive, but managed to grind away to get an important three points.
Senegal took control against a very shaky Polish defence, scoring the first from a deflection and their second from a massive defensive error.
Senegal are probably my favourites for this game, with Japan’s lack of attacking ability even against 10 men not filling me with confidence as to how they will cope against 11 men, so I’m going with a victory for Senegal.
My Prediction: Senegal win
Match played: Sunday 24th, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Poland v Colombia
Poland looked a mess defensively in their first game, lacking the experience and leadership of Kamil Glik, which was particularly obvious in the second goal they conceded. Current news suggests he may be fit in time for this game, which will come as a big boost for them. In qualifiers, their attack was the fifth highest scoring out of all UEFA nations, but they failed to make an impact against Senegal - something that simply cannot be repeated if they want to stay in the competition.
The first three minutes determined the outcome of Colombia’s opener, with Carlos Sanchez’s handball earning him a red card and giving Japan an early penalty and advantage. That, along with the loss of James Rodriguez to a failed fitness test proved too big a hurdle for them to overcome, with the star player at the 2014 tournament failing to make an impact in his 30 minutes of game time.
Both teams are desperate for a win, knowing any dropped points could seal their elimination, making this game very tough to predict. I recommend you wait to see how the first 10-15 minutes pan out before predicting in this one, but if you can’t wait, I think that Colombia may have a slight upper hand, so I’m going with them for the win.
My Prediction: Colombia win
Match played: Sunday 24th, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
That’s what I think will happen in the next batch of games. Make sure to check back in a few days time as Matchday 3 kicks off on Monday, with four games per day meaning we have a packed schedule as the group stages draws to an end.
As always, good luck and happy predicting!