By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- With just three days of
group games remaining, the draw for the last 16 of the
2018 World Cup is becoming clearer. Here are some
talking points to look out for on Wednesday, when Groups
E and F will be decided.
to steamroll past South Korea?
There is a
feeling that Toni Kroos’ last-minute winner for Germany
against Sweden could be a turning point for the reigning
champions and that all their problems in build up to the
World Cup and against Mexico (and the previous 94
minutes against Sweden) were swept away by that
magnificent free kick.
If that is
the case, expect the Germans to hit top gear against a
South Korean side that needs a miracle to qualify. Or it
could be that Germany’s problems run deeper and cannot
be solved by just one goal?
Heung-min to go into overdrive
had a song which contained the line “It’s up to you to
avoid the call up,” and although South Korea star Son
Heung-min probably doesn’t have it on his iPod, it’s
probably his motto right now as he edges closer to his
26th birthday and his compulsory military
service, which can only be avoided through exceptional
sporting achievement for his country.
Son was in
tears after South Korea lost to Mexico in their last
game, so expect him to be in overdrive against Germany;
for him at least, there is a lot at stake.
Serbs won’t hold back
the Serbian Football Federation, its president and
first-team coach all fined for comments made after their
controversial defeat to Switzerland, in which Swiss
goalscorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri made
headlines with their politically provocative
probably fair to say that after a clear-looking penalty
for Serbia was also waved away in the same game, this
Serbian side is feeling somewhat aggrieved, if not plain
angry, ahead of their clash with Brazil. It may be a
good idea for Neymar to wear ankle protectors in case
that bad temper boils over.
● Will we
see the ‘real’ Brazil?
tournament favorites have failed to live up to their top
billing so far in Russia, with a draw against
Switzerland and two injury-time goals against Costa
Rica, and unless the Selecao improve against Serbia
there is a real chance they could crash out of the
tournament in the group stage.
the pre-tournament talk centered on Neymar, midfielder
Philippe Coutinho has been their best player, and Brazil
need to pay more attention to the lack of connection
between midfield and attack and a defense that doesn’t
Serbia, coupled with a point for the Swiss against Costa
Rica, and Brazil will be out, so they need to get things
right and they need to do it now.