World Cup Thoughts – Day Seven
Tunisia vs Australia, Poland vs Saudi Arabia, France vs Denmark, Argentina vs Mexico
The schedule continues its trend of having the best games later in the day. That’s great if you’re putting those parts of the newsletter behind a paywall, and I had more to say about them than the first two games. Anyway, let’s get on with it.
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Tunisia 0-1 Australia
The Australians I spoke to all told me this team was terrible, and here they are.
Turns out that early goal was enough to hang on. I’ll be honest, it’s a good job that the early kick-offs have not been great games, because staying up late to write these articles has meant I’m not at my most focused when those matches are being played. But hey, good win for Australia.
A win against Denmark would definitely see Australia through, while a draw would do as long as Tunisia don’t pull off what would be one of their greatest ever football triumphs by beating their colonisers. FiveThirtyEight sees it as little more than a coin flip between Australia and Denmark to go through, and believes it would take a miracle for Tunisia. I think it’s a little better than that from a Tunisian perspective, as France can now play a weakened team. It’s heading for a big showdown on Wednesday.
Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia
Poland were quite poor against Saudi Arabia, except when they weren’t. I don’t know if that makes sense outside my own head, but that was the game.
Saudi Arabia were controlling the game well for the most part, dominating possession as well as the shot count. They continued with a pretty high line and looked to play positive and fluid football. Their passmap showed that they were doing a good job of getting lots of different players involved in the game.
But when the big chances came, Poland just crushed it. Saudi Arabia were better across most of the pitch, but Poland were better in both boxes. Robert Lewandowski assisted the first goal and scored the second, giving a pretty basic lesson in the “stay fairly organised and rely on one match-winner” theory of international football that dates back to at least Argentina’s 1986 title. It worked. They didn’t create many dangerous situations, but they were extremely effective at turning those situations into chances.
A draw against Argentina would definitely see Poland through. If they lose that game, they’ll have to rely on Saudi Arabia not beating Mexico and some favourable goal difference. I’d rather be Poland than Saudi Arabia right now, but it looks like we could have a pretty dramatic ending in Group C.
France 2-1 Denmark
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