Messi goes for goals, France fight Europe’s corner— June 25, 2014
RN Desk: ove that South
America will not get everything its own way in Wednesday’s key
World Cup games.
The penultimate day of group games sees three round of 16
Messi’s Argentina play Nigeria in Porto Alegre at 1600 GMT
having already qualified from Group F but needing one point to
make sure of top spot. They also need to reassure fans about
their lack of goals so far.
A draw would also be good enough for Nigeria to go through,
but Iran will be looking for goals and hoping the Africans slip
up, when they play Bosnia- Hercegovina in Salvador at the same
In Group E, free-scoring France need a draw against Ecuador
to guarantee top spot in their Rio de Janeiro game at 2000 GMT.
Switzerland will also be looking to claim a place when they play
Honduras at the same time in Manaus.
Argentina’s Messi marked his 27th birthday on Tuesday with
messages from adoring fans and top personalities. Among them was
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella who admitted there is a
“dependency” on the Barcelona striker.
In Argentina’s games so far against Bosnia and Iran, it has
taken Messi brilliance late in the game to break a worrying
“There is huge pressure on him, it’s normal, but we try to
take some off his shoulders,” said Sabella who will be hoping for
a more convincing performance this time in front of another
stadium packed with Argentine fans.
If Argentina win 1-0 again and Iran win by the same score,
FIFA may have to draw lots to decide the second place from the
group as Nigeria and Iran’s points, goal difference and head-to-
head records will be identical.
– Europe hammered –
After Spain, England and Italy crashed out of the
tournament, Europe’s hopes of success rest on a shrinking base
A win over Ecuador could help eliminate a South American
team for a change.
France have scored eight goals in two games so far — three
from Karim Benzema — and coach Didier Deschamps has pressed his
side to “maintain everything we have done so far and finish the
Deschamps could bring in Southampton midfielder Morgan
Schneiderlin for suspended Yohan Cabaye.
Ecuador are currently ahead of Switzerland in second place
on goal difference. Coach Reinaldo Rueda is looking for
inspiration from other South American teams — Brazil, Argentina,
Uruguay, Chile and Colombia — who have already qualified.
“We hope to follow in their footsteps,” he said.
Switzerland also have a score to settle against South
American opponents when they play Honduras to make sure they get
At the 2010 World Cup, Switzerland were also in contention
for the last 16 but could only draw with Honduras.
“Everyone can nurture big dreams, but first we have to do a
little homework and that is to beat Honduras,” said Swiss
midfielder Blerim Dzemaili.
Honduras have not made it out of the group stages in two
previous trips to the World Cup finals.
Los Catrachos will need an avalanche of goals against the
Swiss, and hope that France beat Ecuador to make it this time.
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