CAPE TOWN - Will Lionel Messi light up the World Cup like his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo has? That is what all Argentina supporters will be hoping for today as they take on Croatia in a must-win game. France will be out to prove that they’re serious contenders as well against Peru, while Australia need to stay alive against Denmark…
2pm: Denmark v Australia
Denmark got off to an ideal start by getting past a tough Peruvian side in their opener, and will be confident of advancing to the last-16 by beating Australia.
While Tottenham Hotspur star Christian Eriksen is the stand-out player for the Danes, Yussuf Poulsen came to the fore against Peru when – despite giving away a penalty, which was missed – he scored the winner as well.
Australia will have to try to break down the formidable Danish wall called Kasper Schmeichel – the son of former great, Peter – and will be determined to pick themselves up after that late sucker-punch by France in a 2-1 defeat.
But coach Bert van Maarwijk has highlighted a scoring problem, which might see 19-year-old striker Daniel Arzani start upfront.
Prediction: Denmark 2-0 Australia
5pm: France v Peru
The French will hope that they don’t need a late intervention from Paul Pogba to rescue them against Peru, after the Manchester United midfielder’s shot deflected off Aziz Behich to clinch victory against Australia.
France are a much better outfit than they showed against the Aussies, and it is time for Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe to prove that.
Peru won’t be easy to beat, though, with a tough defence and South American flair on attack, and someone like Christian Cueva won’t be missing penalties like he did against Denmark anytime soon.
Prediction: France 1-0
8pm: Argentina v Croatia
After the shock of drawing 1-1 against Iceland, this is the big moment of the tournament for Argentina. And it comes against their toughest group opponents in Croatia, who will be buzzing after dispatching Nigeria 2-0, despite it not being their best performance.
Lionel Messi and his lieutenants need to find their spark, but the likes of Sergio Aguero and need to support their star player.
There’s been drama in the Croatian camp as striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home after refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria.
But they have enough quality in the shape of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic to give Argentina a real go.
It’s now or never for the Albiceleste…
Prediction: Argentina 1-0 Croatia!