The 3rd match from each group will be contested today and from this match, the fate of every team will be determined. From 32 team, 16 teams will progress to the second round and 16 teams will be eliminated from the World Cup and the team had been eliminated will need to wait another 4 years to have a shot at the World Cup. The 1st match forms each group creates some entertaining and some shocking results and the 2nd match from each group create a clear picture on how this year World Cup will progress.
The team that had secured a place in the second-round knockout stages are Russia, Uruguay, Croatia, Mexico, England, France, and Denmark. While Russia, Uruguay, England, France, Denmark, and Belgium will contest the final day group match to determine the group winners Croatia and Mexico will progress to the second-round knockout stages as group winners. Meanwhile, the team that had been eliminated from the competition are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, South Korea, Tunisia, and Poland. Poland in this World Cup had become the first European team to be eliminated and the first European team who does not have any point from the 2 matches. From this only Mexico is still the sole survivor from the CONCACAF group as the other 2 team Panama and Costa Rica had been eliminated.
The fate of other teams will be determined in the 3rd match of the group stages that will happen in this week. Argentina with Lionel Messi in the team unexpectedly struggle and on the brink of the elimination after been held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland and defeated comprehensively by Croatia in the next game with the emphatic 3-0 scoreline. Argentina needs to win against Nigeria with a good scoreline to have any chance for progression to next round and Argentina had drawn with Nigeria then it will make the first time that Argentina had been knocked out from the group stage since 2002 World Cup.
The final day of the group stage if have any shocking results then it will reminiscent of the 2002 World Cup where favorites were knocked out form the competition in the group stage. In the 2002 World Cup France, Argentina and Portugal had been knocked out from the group stage. In the current campaign meanwhile, Portugal, Germany, Brazil, and Colombia are on the brink of elimination. If Iran had beaten Portugal in the final game, then Portugal will be eliminated. Germany and Brazil meanwhile have a tough game against the team that had eliminated Italy in the Euro qualifier Sweden and Brazil need to beat Serbia to stand any change for qualification. If both had failed to win their final game, then it is the first time that Germany had been kicked out from the competition in the group stage and for Brazil, it will be the first time since 1966. If German had been knocked it will be the 3rd consecutive tournament where the defending champion had been eliminated in the group stages as Italy and Spain in the 2010 and 2014 share the same fate.
Once team will an easy time against the football minnows from Asia and Africa but in this tournament, this had changed. Argentina had a tough time against Iceland, Portugal barely won against Morrocco, Uruguay was given a tough time by Saudi Arabia, Mexico had beaten Germany, and only Panama is the worst performing team in current World Cup as they had leaked 10 goals in 2 games.
Japan had become the first Asian team to beat a South America team in the World Cup when they had beaten Colombia in their opening group stages. Iran and Japan are the only Asian team who had a chance to progress to the second round as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Australia had been eliminated from the competition. It is a fate that had been shared by African team as only Nigeria and Senegal have a chance to progress to the next round while Egypt, Tunisia, and Morroco had been eliminated.
Since Mario Kempes from Argentina had become the top scorer with 8 goals in 1978 World Cup, the winner of the Golden Boot since then is always with 6 goals and only in 2002, World Cup Ronaldo had become the first player since Mario Kempes to become a Golden Boot winner with 8 goals. From the 2nd match of each group stages, Romelo Lukaku and Christiano Ronaldo had scored 4 goals each and Harry Kane from England who had a fantastic start to the tournament is the top scorer with 5 goals. If 3 of them is scoring in this rate, either one of the will be the Golden Boot winners who had scored more than 6 goals and they had a high change to broke Gerd Muller 10 goals in 1970 and breaking the all-time record of Just Fontaine with 13 goals in 1958 for a single World Cup.
Senegal when they had debuted in 2002, had made a shock in that tournament when they had beaten the defending champion in the opening game and progressed to the quarter-final. Senegal is the first African team to have progressed to the quarter-final on their debut. Now Senegal looks the most impressive African team with a good defensive organization and playing a pressuring game ala Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. They had a great chance to progress beyond the quarter-final a first for an African team if they continued in these forms.
Senegal, Japan, Iran, and Nigeria if they had failed to progress to the second round then it will be the first team that a team from Africa and Asian are not in the knockout stages since 1982 World Cup and it will reflect badly on the performance of both countries in the World Cup. Since 1986, they will have at least one representative from Africa or Asia in the knockout stages. A shocking elimination can happen in the current World Cup but a team that had progressed to the second round then they will be a different team altogether in the knockout stages. Italy had performed badly in the 1982 World Cup groups stages and barely escape from their group but in the end, they had become the champion in 1982. Let’s hope that the final group game in each group will provide an entertaining and memorable moment for years to come as the World Cup had always had this moment in every tournament.