Nigerian captain John Obi Mikel will hope to inspire his team to victory over Croatia on Saturday. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Nigerian captain John Obi Mikel will hope to inspire his team to victory over Croatia on Saturday. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Lionel Messi will lead the Argentina attack against Iceland on Saturday. Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP
Lionel Messi will lead the Argentina attack against Iceland on Saturday. Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

Wow, we are all still buzzing from Cristiano Ronaldo’s unbelievable hat trick against Spain last night!

So, what’s in store today? Well, Lionel Messi is in action for Argentina...

12pm: France v Australia

Watch out for France, who are many pundits’ dark horses for the title.

But for that to happen, they need their big stars to take charge. Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann must lead the way for Les Bleus, and they need to set the tone against Australia, who battled hard to qualify for the tournament.

The Aussies still have old warhorse Tim Cahill in the mix, but there is little chance of an upset in this game…

Prediction: France 3-0 Australia

3pm: Argentina v Iceland

It’s now or never for Lionel Messi and Argentina. After years of heartbreak at World Cups, it’s time for Messi to make his mark and take Albiceleste all the way to the golden trophy.

He has more than enough generals around to help, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Angel di Maria, and the list goes on.

Iceland may be a minnow soccer nation, but they proved at Euro 2016 that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is back from injury, and their boisterous supporters will push them to play beyond their ability.

But it won’t be enough for a point or three.

Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Iceland

Lionel Messi will lead the Argentina attack against Iceland on Saturday. Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

6pm: Peru v Denmark

It’s an historic day for Peru, as they make a return to the biggest stage of them all after 36 years.

The South American qualifying is arguably the toughest around the globe, so just being in Russia is a huge achievement for Peru, who managed to go through at the expense of Alexis Sanchez’s Chile.

But can stop the highly efficient Denmark?

Tottenham star Christian Eriksen will spearhead the Danes’ charge, and he will be ably supported by the likes of strikers Nicolai Jorgensen and ex-Arsenal front-man Nicolas Bendtner.

Prediction: Denmark 2-0 Peru

9pm: Croatia v Nigeria

This is the Group D decider for second place behind Argentina.

Nigeria need to make a statement as an African powerhouse at a World Cup, and they have the personnel to cause what would be an upset against a strong Croatian outfit.

Former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel is the captain, but the Super Eagles are far from a one-man show – Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho won’t be intimidated by Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric.

Nigeria beat Argentina 4-2 in a November friendly, but this time around, three points are at stake and a probable last-16 spot as well.

Can Nigeria do it for Africa?

Prediction: Nigeria 1-0 Croatia!

 

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