Will Ahmed Musa, right, spark off celebrations for Nigeria against Argentina? Photo: Themba Hadebe/AP
Will Ahmed Musa, right, spark off celebrations for Nigeria against Argentina? Photo: Themba Hadebe/AP
Can Lionel Messi, seen here during training on Sunday, conjure up some of his La Liga magic for Argentina against Nigeria? Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP
Can Lionel Messi, seen here during training on Sunday, conjure up some of his La Liga magic for Argentina against Nigeria? Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

It’s “squeaky-bum time” for Nigeria. After a classy 2-0 win over Iceland, the Super Eagles take on the beleaguered Argentinians, who will hope that Lionel Messi can conjure up some of his La Liga magic.

France and Denmark can shut out Peru in Group C, while Croatia will look to continue their unbeaten run against Iceland.

4pm: Denmark v France

If Denmark win, they will end any hope of Australia sneaking in through the back door for the last-16. The French have already qualified, but do they want to finish on top of the group? That could mean facing Argentina in the next round, depending on what happens in Group D, although Croatia have been the form side in that group.

French coach Didier Deschamps may rest Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, who are on yellow cards, while Denmark will be without suspended striker Yussuf Poulsen.

What makes things tougher for the French is that the Group D fixtures only take place later in the evening. They only need a draw to top Group C…

Prediction: Denmark 1-1 France

4pm: Australia v Peru

Australia’s fate is out of their hands, as even a victory won’t be enough if Denmark draw or win against France.

The big question is whether coach Bert van Marwijk will go for broke and start with veteran Tim Cahill and teenage sensation Daniel Arzani.

The 38-year-old Cahill was curiously left on the bench against France and Denmark, and Van Marwijk has been heavily criticised Down Under.

But captain Mile Jedinak will spearhead their bid for victory, although they will face a Peruvian side who are far tougher to beat than their winless record at the tournament suggests.

They’ve lost just 1-0 to Denmark and France, and have had an impressive 27 shots at goal.

Prediction: Australia 1-1 Peru

8pm: Nigeria v Argentina

Arguably the main African hope ahead of the tournament, Nigeria have it all in their hands – beat Argentina, and they are definitely through to the last-16, although a draw may also be enough.

Of course, Croatia can do them a favour by drawing with or beating Iceland, but because the matches are being played at the same time, they can’t worry about that.

The nightmare 3-0 defeat to Croatia may have spelled disaster for Argentina, but there is still a chance for Lionel Messi and Co to pick themselves up off the ropes and advance to the next round.

They need a victory and a better goal difference to Iceland – if the latter outfit can get the better of Croatia, that is.

Coach Jorge Sampoali has been nailed as much for his tactics as his “bar brawler” look he sports on the sidelines, but he can fix things for the decider by revitalising the attack with Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria.

The pace of two-goal hero Ahmed Musa will trouble the shaky Argentinian defence, and he will need the support of Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho upfront.

But can the defence stop Messi?

Prediction: Nigeria 1-1 Argentina!

8pm: Iceland v Croatia

The all-conquering Croatia are flying, and don’t expect them to stop now.

While they only need a point to top Group D, they would be better served to maintain their momentum with another emphatic win over Iceland.

Luka Modric is in inspired touch, although his fellow stalwarts Ivan Rakitic, Ante Rabic and Mario Mandzukic may sit this one out as they have been booked to avoid a suspension for the last-16.

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Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a penalty against Nigeria in the 2-0 defeat, and will want to make amends this time around.

But is he enough to get past a powerful Croatian side?

Prediction: Iceland 0-2 Croatia

 

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