Sampaoli gets his formation right
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli changed the team's formation to a more attacking 4-3-3, with Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria given space to move along the flanks, while Gonzalo Higuain played in the centre.
The move seemed to have worked wonders as Messi had more space to work his magic and the introduction of Ever Banega added more creativity in midfield. This was evident as it was Banega who went on to assist Messi for the opening goal of the night.
While the formation seemed to have worked, a worrisome aspect would be the benching of Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala. While Aguero did make a late entry into the game, Dybala did not feature and had hardly had any game time so far.
Messi joins the party, scores 100th goal of World Cup
After a disappointing opening two games, Messi scored his first goal of the campaign to mark the landmark 100th goal of the ongoing FIFA World Cup.
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The Barcelona superstar has now scored six World Cup goals, three of which have come in matches with Nigeria, against whom he last struck in the last tournament four years ago.
Incidentally, Messi also became the first player to score at the World Cup in his teens, in his 20s and his 30s.
Goal-shy Australia pays the price
Australia's World Cup squad was a talented one which had quality in its forward line. A lot was expected of Aaron Mooy from central midfield, but the Huddersfield Town man, who played the most key passes (three), never took any of the matches by the scruff of the neck.
Despite their endeavour and technical quality, Matthew Leckie, Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic, who played behind the striker, lacked the cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, which ultimately proved decisive in Australia's 2018 World Cup campaign. It exited the competition having scored no goals from open play.
Mile Jedinak converted both the spot-kicks he took, against France in the first match and Denmark in the second. Australia was neither docile nor ineffective and its only major fault was not finding the back of the net.
Its performance against France, in the Group C opener was arguably its best in the tournament, but the failure to score when it was on top proved to be its undoing, with an Aziz Behich own goal sealing all three points for the French.
First goalless draw of the tournament
France and Peru played an insipid goalless draw in their Group C encounter on Tuesday, which marked the first 0-0 draw of the tournament so far.
Given that France had already sealed its spot in the next round, Didier Deschamps made as many as six changes to his side, bringing in the likes of Steve Mandanda, Steven Nzonzi, and Thomas Lemar. Martin Braithwaite replacing Yussuf Poulsen was the major change in the Denmark line up.
Despite having a bunch of chances, the France attack line simply failed to find the back of the net. The Danes on the other hand needed only a point to progress and seemed content to not concede and hold on for a draw.
2018 Croatia better than 1998?
In its final match against Iceland, Croatia chose to rest nine members from the side which thrashed Argentina 3-0 in the previous match. Partly, due to the fact that six players were carrying a yellow card and would be risking suspension heading into the Round-of-16 fixture.
The depth in its squad came to the fore in its 2-1 win over Iceland. Comparisons have already been made to the 1998 team which famously finished third in France. That squad had an assembly of star players such as Davor Suker, Slavan Bilic, Robert Jarniand and Zvonimir Boban to name a few.
The 2018 group, too, has its big names in Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic. After topping the first round with three consecutive wins and Denmark in its sight, the Zalto Dalic's side will fancy its chances of replicating the success of their heroes, if not, overhauling them.
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