FIFA World Cup 2018: Matches to watch out for in the final round of group stages
It’s safe to say that the 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup has lived up to all expectations. While some of the pre-tournament favourites including Germany, Spain & Argentina have floundered, minnows such as Mexico, Russia & Iran have risen to the occasion. The tournament has also unearthed some great young talents including Hirving Lozano of Mexico & Quintero of Colombia. Harry Kane currently leads the race for the golden boot with 5 goals but is closely followed by Cristiano Ronaldo & Romelu Lukaku, both of whom have 4 goals to their name.
Heading into the final round of group games only have a handful of teams have cemented their berth in the quarters. While none of the "favourites" are yet to be knocked out, the fates of Argentina, Portugal, Brazil, and Germany are dependent on the outcomes of their final games.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the key fixtures in the final round of group games.
#1 Iran vs Portugal
Coming into their final group stage tie against Iran, Portugal has 4 points from their two games and will need at least a point to cement a place in the round of 16. Iran, on the other hand, will most definitely need a win to qualify for the knockouts for the first time in their history. A draw may also be enough for Iran but would then have to hope for Spain to lose against Morocco by two or more goals.
It’s fair to say that Portugal has heavily relied on their captain, Cristiano Ronaldo up to this point. The 33-year-old has scored all 4 goals for Portugal so far and will once again need to step up against Iran. Against Morocco, the Portuguese were poor on the ball, turning over possession one too many times. Iran needed a slice of luck to overcome the Moroccans with an injury-time own-goal giving them the three points. Against Spain, the Asian giants put in a gutsy defensive display but were undone by a second-half goal by Diego Costa.
The game promises to be an enthralling encounter and one in which Portugal should come out on top.