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20th Jun 2018

All the possible ramifications of the second round of World Cup group games

It's make or break for a lot of teams in the second round of games

Reuben Pinder

This World Cup is going far too quickly

One round of games gone already, two more to go before the knockout stages. And it hasn’t disappointed. The first week of the World Cup has provided some shock results, plenty of excellent goals, the occasional bit of VAR controversy and lots of penalties. All in all, it’s been a lot of fun and the second round of games should be just as good with so much riding on them.

Group A:

Russia’s 5-0 and 3-1 wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively have put the hosts in great stead to come top of their group. Uruguay play Saudi Arabia this afternoon, and La Celeste will be hoping that they can improve on Russia’s 5-0 win over the Saudis, meaning a draw against Russia in the third round of games would send Uruguay through in first place on goal difference.

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia is on BBC One at 4pm on Wednesday 20th June

Group B:

Spain and Portugal’s enthralling 3-3 draw added a level of intrigue to this group. The game exposed both team’s weaknesses and put them on a level playing field in the race for first. Morocco suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Portugal this afternoon, confirming their early exit. Iran will be content to sit back and frustrate Spain tonight, having picked up three points in the opening game. If Iran can scrape a draw, they will go into the final group game against Portugal with a real chance of going through, although that is a very big if.

Portugal vs Morocco is on BBC One at 1pm on Wednesday 20th June

Iran vs Spain is on ITV at 7pm on Wednesday 20th June

Group C: 

France and Denmark go into this second round of games having won by narrow margins in the first round. France play Peru, who will still be rueing the missed penalty against Denmark. The Danes meanwhile, face an Australia side who will feel hard done by after they lost 2-1 to an unconvincing France side. Wins for both France and Denmark would secure qualification for both, making the final group game a fight for first place. Didier Deschamps is reportedly going to change to a 4-2-3-1 formation, bringing in Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi for Ousmane Dembele and Corentin Tolisso.

Denmark vs Australia is on ITV at 1pm on Thursday 21st June

France vs Peru is on ITV at 4pm on Thursday 21st June

Group D: 

Argentina will be desperate to bounce back from a disappointing draw against Iceland as they face Croatia. Lionel Messi will be afforded more space in this game and Jorge Sampaoli will be counting on him to take advantage. Croatia have the cushion of three points and could secure their qualification with a win. Nigeria face Iceland in the other game. John Obi Mikel and co. are the only team without a point in Group D and Iceland will fancy their chances of taking all three points, though they’ll still need their fair share of luck if they are to come second in this group. Should Croatia beat Argentina and Iceland beat Nigeria, Argentina will have to beat Nigeria in the final round and hope that their goal differences sees them through in second.

Argentina vs Croatia is on BBC one at 7pm on Thursday 21st June

Nigeria vs Iceland is on BBC One at 4pm on Friday 22nd June

Group E:

Brazil became yet another big gun to be be silenced by an underdog as they drew with Switzerland in the opening game. They will also be concerned about Neymar’s fitness, after he was seen hobbling off the training pitch. Brazil take on Costa Rica, who need a win after losing their opener to Serbia courtesy of a Kolarov special. Brazil will be confident of winning and hoping that they can wrestle first place back off Serbia in the final round. Wins for both Switzerland and Brazil would all but confirm Costa Rica’s exit after just two games.

Brazil vs Costa Rica is on ITV at 1pm on Friday 22nd June

Serbia vs Switzerland is on BBC One at 7pm on Friday 22nd June

Group F:

Germany must beat Sweden in their second group game to have any real chance of topping the group after they lost to Mexico in the opening group game. Their defence was left exposed by Kroos and Khedira, who couldn’t deal with Mexico’s pace on the break. Mexico are big favourites against South Korea, who will have to bring an attacking approach to the game after losing to Sweden. If Germany suffer another loss and Mexico beat South Korea, the reigning champions will be eliminated in the group stage, continuing the trend after Italy fell at the first hurdle in 2010 and Spain did the same in 2014.

South Korea vs Mexico is on ITV at 4pm on Saturday 23rd June

Germany vs Sweden is on ITV at 7pm on Saturday 23rd June

Group G: 

England and Belgium will look to build on their victories to secure qualification before facing each other in the final round of group games to decide who tops the group. Panama and Tunisia will have to come out and attack against England and Belgium respectively if they are to have a chance of getting any points on the board before it’s too late. If the results go as expected, both Tunisia and Panama will be eliminated after two games and play each other in a dead rubber next Thursday.

Belgium vs Tunisia is on BBC One at 1pm on Saturday 23rd June

England vs Panama is on BBC One at 1pm on Sunday 24th June

Group H:

This group stood out from the start as the only one without a standout favourite. Some people were tipping Colombia due to their star talent but the group was blown wide open when they got off to the worst possible start. Conceding a penalty, having a man sent off and conceding a goal from that penalty put Colombia at a huge disadvantage. They managed to equalise but Japan regained the advantage and took all three points, putting them in good stead to qualify from the group.

Senegal beat Poland against the odds too, demonstrating that they are much more than the lazy ‘pace and power’ tag.

The winner of Senegal vs Japan will secure qualification, while Poland and Colombia will be battling it out to ensure that they go into the third round of games with a chance of going through.

Japan vs Senegal is on BBC One at 4pm on Sunday 24th June

Poland vs Colombia is on ITV at 7pm on Sunday 24th June