FIFA World Cup 2018: Messi, Ronaldo Set for the Knockout Round
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will take centre stage, as the FIFA World Cup 2018 shifts into high gear at the weekend. The knockout matches to begin on Saturday with Messi’s Argentina to face France in the first game.
Messi-Ronaldo to add fireworks on Saturday evening in Russia
Football heavyweights France, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil are all clustered in one section of the competition, with only Spain among recent winners in the other half.
The unbalanced nature of the knockout phase sparked debate ahead of Thursday’s England-Belgium group match was it better to win, and enter the tougher side of the draw or lose and face potentially easier fixtures down the line?
In the event, third-ranked Belgium won, adding even more firepower to the top half, while if England can get past Colombia, they will fancy their chances of reaching a potential semi-final against 2010 winners, Spain.
The first phase in Russia featured just one goalless draw and already a record number of penalties, with the video assistant referee (VAR) often in the spotlight.
Of the half-dozen winners of the trophy since 1970, Germany had gone home in the biggest shock of the tournament by far while, Italy never even qualified for Russia. The standout last-16 tie on paper pits France against Messi and Argentina, two teams who laboured through the group stage.
France to start as favourites against Argentina
France are packed with firepower, boasting Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, but they have failed to click so far, finding the net just three times in three matches — one of those was a penalty and another an own goal.
“A whole new competition begins now, direct elimination,” said manager Didier Deschamps. “We got what we wanted. Now the mountain looms up in front of us, but we’re there, and we’re aiming to get through to the next round after that.”
Five-time world player of the year, Messi underlined his importance to Argentina with a sublimely taken opening goal against Nigeria; but that came after his penalty miss against Iceland in a lacklustre 1-1 draw. That set the tone for a disappointing campaign so far.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, started his tournament with a hat-trick against Spain. But he has now slipped behind England’s Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot after seeing his penalty saved in Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Iran. The Real Madrid star, who has four goals in Russia and looks certain to be crowned world player of the year for the sixth time.
Ronaldo will come up against a tight Uruguay defence that did not concede a single goal in the group phase. Aside from their watertight defence, two-time winners Uruguay boast two of the greatest goal-scorers of their generation in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
The Uruguayans are aware that Ronaldo is not the only threat for the European champions — he is supported by younger talents such as Bernardo Silva and Goncalo Guedes.
“We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar,” said Sebastian Coates of Ronaldo. “You don’t prepare a match just looking at one player.”
Becky Lynch Pregnancy: Fiancee Seth Rollins Comments On Negativity By WWE Veteran
Becky Lynch was the headliner of the pro-wrestling media houses following WWE Money In The Bank. She announced that she was pregnant in a shocking fashion who would then go on to vacate the RAW Women’s Championship. Asuka, the Money In The Bank Ladder Match…
Bundesliga 2019-20: Timo Werner Bags A Hat-Trick As RB Leipzig Put On A Five-Star Show Against Mainz FC
The man of the Bundesliga season for RB Leipzig, Timo Werner, ended his goalscoring drought and smashed a wonderful hat-trick against Mainz FC as Leipzig thrashed the hosts by 5-0. Coming into the game, Timo Werner had only scored 1 goal in his last 8…