Messi did what Messi does. Argentina was facing elimination if they failed to beat Nigeria in their final group game on Tuesday. But Leo Messi stepped forward and scored an amazing goal; deftly controlling a long pass off his thigh and then taking another touch to get out of reach of the Nigeria defender before firing a shot with his weaker right foot into the far post, putting Argentina up 1-0. The job wasn’t done however and Nigeria leveled the scoring from the penalty spot through Victor Moses in the 51st minute. Messi had a hard time finding opportunities after that as he was constantly swarmed by green jerseys for the rest of the game. But in the 86th minute Marcos Rojo latched onto the end of a beautiful cross and sent the Argentina fans into delirium. The game finished 2-1 and sent Argentina into the last 16 where they will face France.
Croatia beat Iceland who needed a win to have any chance of progression. Having already sealed their place in the last 16, Croatia fielded a weaker team and it was an exciting back and forth game that ended 2-1. Iceland, the country who have yet again earned the respect of fans from all over the world are headed home but for a country of around 350,000 people, they deserve all the admiration.
France played out a 0-0 draw with Denmark that means both teams will move on. Denmark will face Croatia and like we said earlier, Argentina will face France. Peru beat Australia 2-0 behind goals from André Carillo and José Paolo Guerrero. Both teams were eliminated but Peru played bravely from the start of the tournament and shouldn’t hang their heads for even a minute.
Wednesday’s action will showcase Groups E and F. Switzerland need a win against the already eliminated Costa Rica to guarantee their progression but if Serbia fail to win or draw against Brazil then Switzerland will advance. In the previous round of games when Switzerland played Serbia there was a raucous of controversy as Swiss goal scorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, both of whom are of Kosovan descent, celebrated with a double-headed eagle hand gesture that is portrayed on the Albanian flag. Serbia were furious by this, as they do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Xhaka’s father was a political prisoner in the 80’s and Shaqiri wore shoes with the Swiss flag on one shoe and the Kosovo flag on the other because he was born in Kosovo. It’s obviously more than a game!
Brazil has qualified already but have underwhelmed so far. Serbia will need a win against Neymar and company but a draw will be enough if Switzerland loses to Costa Rica by two goals.
In Group F, South Korea play Germany and Sweden play Mexico. South Korea has been eliminated and will play for pride but Germany still needs a win. It’s a tricky group—even though Mexico has won twice, they can still be eliminated if Sweden beat them and Germany win. The way Mexico has played so far, they should go on and win and Germany should make no mistake in beating South Korea who hasn’t shown much in the tournament.
After everything we’ve seen so far, there’s only a growing expectation that more drama is on the way!