World Cup 2014: Day 19
France go into their second round game against Nigeria today slightly disappointed to not be on a 100% record in this World Cup after an impressive start to the tournament. They brushed aside Honduras 3-0 in their opening game, Karim Benzema grabbing 2 goals himself, while also playing a large part in the other, which was eventually awarded as an own goal to Valladares. In Salvador they then brushed aside the usually well organised Switzerland 5-2, having a 5-0 lead going into the last 10 minutes. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, before Blaise Matuidi and Mathieu Valbuena gave Les Bleus a 3-0 lead at the break. Benzema and Sissoko completed the rout after half-time, before Džemaili and Xhaka at least spared some blushes for the Swiss. In the final game they faced an Ecuador side who needed a win to have any chance of progressing, and when they were reduced to 10 men in the 50th minute after Valencia was sent off for a high tackle, the French should have punished them, Pogba guilty of a couple of big misses. Still, they come into this game unbeaten in their last 8 games, chalking up some impressive scorelines along the way.
Nigeria come into this game having given a fantastic account of themselves last time out against Argentina. Ahmed Musa was twice on target as they eventually lost 3-2 to the South American side, but they also created several chances themselves. They got off to a slow start in the opening game, as they played out a 0-0 draw against Iran in Curitiba. A goal from Peter Odemwingie ensured the win against Bosnia in their second game, meaning they had already amassed 4 points, and needed only a draw in the final game to ensure qualification. Despite twice coming from behind to level, Argentina eventually held onto the lead at the third time of asking, but as Iran crashed to defeat against Bosnia, the Super Eagles were still ensured qualification. Nigeria beat France 1-0 in a friendly back in 2009, but have only won once in the last 7 games, and I genuinely can’t see that changing this time. France win all the way for me.
The second game on Monday sees Germany face Group H runners up Algeria. Germany looked impressive in their opening game against Portugal, largely aided by the needless dismissal of Pepe for an attack on Thomas Müller. Müller had the last laugh as he grabbed himself a hat-trick that day, with Mats Hummels grabbing the other. Many fancied them to post a similar scoreline against Ghana, but despite taking the lead through Mario Götze, the African sides hit back and took the lead before a 71st minute goal from Miroslav Klose, which also saw him become joint all-time leading scorer in World Cup finals, secured the point. Victory in the final game would secure top spot, and despite a hard fought game against the USA, Müller was again on target to give Germany all 3 points and ensure they finished in top spot in Group G. They are now unbeaten in 13 games, and have scored 15 goals in their last 5 outings.
Algeria left it late to ensure their qualification. After defeat in their opening game against Belgium, despite taking the lead when Feghouli scored from the spot, they turned things around against Korea Republic, being 3-0 up by the break before winning the game 4-2. Islam Slimani opened the scoring, before Halliche and Djabou were also on target before the break. Yacine Brahimi grabbed the fourth, which saw them go into the final game knowing a draw would be enough. Russia took a 6th minute lead through Kokorin, a goal which saw them in pole position for the second qualification spot, but then Slimani grabbed his second of the tournament as he headed home to take the Desert Rats into the knockout stages for the first ever time courtesy of a 1-1 draw. The Algerians continually look vulnerable at the back, and it’s hard not to see Müller, himself already on an impressive 9 goals in World Cup finals and chasing a few records himself, not exploiting the weakness. Germany also boast plenty of creativity in midfield, and they should have enough about them to be able to break down the Algerian midfield. Algeria are somewhat of a surprise package going forward, and may try and knick a goal and protect it, but I think the best they can hope for is a draw and trying to take the game for extra time and penalties. That being said, I can’t see them pulling it off. Germany HT/FT win for me.Share this: