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Four things to look out for at the World Cup on Saturday

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Some of the big guns at the 2018 World Cup will get into action on Saturday in Russia as Argentina and France begin their World Cup campaigns. Here are some things to look out for on a packed day of football ahead.

MESSI AGAINST THE VIKINGS:

Iceland’s progress in the 2016 European Championships was one of the major stories of that competition and they made history again when they became the nation with the smallest population to ever reach the World Cup finals.

Iceland will debut against an Argentine side packed with attacking talent and led by Lionel Messi, the best player in the world.

Messi has been accused of underperforming for his country, but his goals got them to Russia and the last two finals of the Copa America.

Argentina are not a balanced side, and Messi may have to drop deep to help in midfield.

Will a passionate and organized Iceland side be able to deal with him?

GIROUD TO FEEL AT HOME AGAINST THE AUSSIES:

The last time France played Australia was a friendly game in 2013, and it is a match the Aussies will want to forget—they lost 6-0.

Two of the goals in that thumping were scored by Oliver Giroud, who will partner with Antoine Griezmann in the French attack in the Kazan Arena.

By coincidence, the Kazan Arean was designed by the same architect behind Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where Giroud plied his trade for 6 years before joining Chelsea at the start of the year, so when Giroud takes a look up at the stands, there is a chance he might just feel at home.

CAN PERU MAKE A HAPPY WORLD STAGE RETURN?

With France as Group C’s heavyweights and Australia looking like Group C’s makeweights, the game between Peru and Denmark in Saransk could be vital in deciding who partners with France into the last 16 in Russia.

Peru return to a World Cup after 30 years in the wilderness and their supporters seem to be everywhere in Russia.

They will all be in the Mordovia Arena on Saturday evening, however, so expect an incredible atmosphere.

Whether that passion will be enough to get them past Christian Erikson and company remains to be seen.

CROATIA’S MIDFIELD MAESTROS

Any side that can field a midfield consisting of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic and Milan Badelj has to be seen as a candidate to go a long way in this World Cup.

It will be fascinating to see how they perform against a good Nigerian side led by the experienced John Obi Mikel, ably supported by the developing Wilfred Ndidi and with the pacy Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheahnacho looking to trouble the vulnerable Croatian defenders Vedran Corluka and Dejan Lovren.

Croatia’s midfield will look to run the game, and should be good enough to seal the win, but any errors could be costly.

             

 

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