Four group stage games are left and all four spots in the semis are up for grabs still. New Zealand is the only team of the eight that has been eliminated going into the final set of matches.
New Zealand haven’t looked like they don’t belong but Russia and Mexico have put up incredibly uninspiring performances when playing the Kiwis. Don’t expect them to steal a point against Portugal, but they may steal a goal.
Across the country in Kazan, the hosts take on Mexico. Both sides will go into the match assuming Portugal beat New Zealand, so Russia will be playing with the belief that they need a win to advance. A draw will send Mexico into the semi-final against the winner of Group B.
Russia vs Mexico is the better of the two games and looks likely to be competitive. Juan Carlos Osorio benched Chicharito in game two, so the striker should be fresh to terrorize a less than stellar Russian backline. Meanwhile, Russia have struggled against stronger competition, having failed to record a shot on goal against Portugal.
Predictions: Portugal wins, Mexico draws to advance to the semis.
Saturday June 24, 8 AM, Russia vs Mexico. FOX (Q13), Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Saturday June 24, 8 AM, New Zealand vs Portugal. FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
The New York Derby will start following the Russia-Mexico game on FOX.
Theoretically this group could finish with all four teams tied on four points, but that is incredibly unlikely. Chile and Germany are a level above Australia and Cameroon respectively. Chile and Australia face-off and Germany will see Cameroon. The Aussies and Cameroonians are just happy to have gotten a point in their match against each other, though a win would’ve given a massive lift to their semi-final hopes.
Chile and Australia will be an interesting match. The Aussies offense stalls out repeatedly, but as they showed against Germany, they can score if the backline doesn’t stay focused. Chile was never really tested when they played Cameroon and Germany’s offense sputtered in the final third, so there’s no real clues as to how they’ll hold up. Meanwhile, Chile’s attack was held by a strong German backline that kept its focus in that their meeting, even with Alexis Sanchez back in the lineup. Australia’s backline isn’t great and will very likely get stretched and over loaded. Germany tagged the Aussies for three goals and I’d expect Chile to do the same while holding Australia to only one.
Germany on the other hand has an electrifying offense that, if it can connect in the final third, will drop five on Cameroon. The defense looked uninterested in trying against Australia but held their own against Chile. They might perform a step slower than they should but still better than they did against Australia. Cameroon will have to drop deep to defend and go to a pure counter attacking strategy. The speed and counter technique could overload the three-man backline of Germany, though, that is unlikely since it’ll lead to a lot of 1v3, 2v3s.
Cameroon and Australia will both need to win and win by multiple goals in order to reverse their GD misfortunes if they want to get through.
Prediction: Chile and Germany both pick up wins, advance to the semis.
Sunday June 24, 8 AM, Cameroon vs Germany. FOX, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Sunday June 24, 8 AM, Chile vs Australia. FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream