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
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
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.