2018 FIFA World Cup: Day 3

The first Saturday of 2018 FIFA World Cup sees four matches take place across groups C and D, with three of those games being first time meetings.

France and Argentina will start their groups as favourites but the Aussies and Iceland will be hoping to spring early surprises.

Peru meanwhile are making their first World Cup appearance in 36 years so are relative unknowns heading into their teatime match against Denmark. 

Croatia and Nigeria meanwhile could well be an interesting battle with so many well known names amongst both sides expected to feature. 

 

France vs Australia (11am)

France will enter this looking to prove why they’re amongst the tournament favourites to win, but face an Aussie side looking to improve on their performance at 2014 tournament. 

In four previous meetings, the French have lost just once with three of those games being separated by a single goal. 

Their last meeting however saw France run riot in a 6-0 friendly win in 2013, so things could go either way here. 

Add in the possibility that France could unleash a 4-3-3 with a £300m valued front trio of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele partnering Antoine Griezmann up front, then we have a fierce France side who will attack hell for leather.

Although the Aussies will give it everything, I am backing France to win comfortably here.

Prediction: France 3-0 Australia 

 

Argentina vs Iceland (2pm)

World Cup debutants, Iceland will be hoping to follow up their 2016 Euro success by sending a seismic shock rippling through Group D if can beat 2014 runners-up, Argentina. 

Unlike most fixtures, this is the first time that these teams have met in any competition so I am expecting a decent match here. 

These sides are also polar opposites with Argentina fierce in attack but shaky in defence unlike Iceland who might lack the firepower but are strong at the back.

That won’t hinder Argentina’s title as favourite for this clash because they have won their last six opening games of a World Cup and are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 group matches. 

I therefore can see Argentina eventually breaking through and winning this with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero amongst their ranks. 

Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Iceland

 

Peru vs Denmark (5pm)

This opening clash could prove pivotal for both teams’ hopes of getting out of Group C alongside France. 

Peru are making their first appearance at World Cup since 1982 whilst Denmark are making their fifth appearance at a World Cup, having previously got out of group stage in three of past four appearances.

Like Argentina v Iceland, this is the first ever clash between these teams so expect a good game. 

Both teams however come here unbeaten in last 15 matches but Denmark are the more solid at back because of their direct play. 

Although a draw wouldn’t really surprise, Peru have a decent opening fixture record against European opposition having taken two wins from two openers against countries from Europe. 

For that reason, it’s easy to back them but Denmark have Christian Eriksen who knows how to score from outside the box, so am backing the Danes here but will be tight.

Prediction: Peru 1-2 Denmark

 

Croatia vs Nigeria (8pm)

With Argentina almost certain to qualify from Group D, this match is pivotal for Croatia and Nigeria’s hopes of qualifying as they battle Iceland for second place.

These teams haven’t met before so expect a tough battle because Croatia are solid all over whilst Nigeria have the youngest squad of every country at the World Cup.

That inexperience against a Croatia side containing the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic  could very well be costly here. 

Throw in Nigeria’s poor World Cup record against European opposition (W1, D1, L4) and I am going to go for a Croatian victory. 

Prediction: Croatia 2-0 Nigeria

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