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World Cup day 13: who, how, and what to watch

Alex Iwobi and Nigeria will have a chance to knock Messi and Argentina out of the World Cup

Nigeria v Iceland: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Today is match day 13 at the 2018 Fifa World Cup. As yesterday began the final round of group stage play, the scheduling and format has changed - instead of three matches per day, there are four, happening two at a time. Although a handful of teams have already punched their ticket into the knockout rounds (Russia, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, France, Croatia, Belgium, and England), the battle to sort out the final placements is still well under way, which means long-winded discussions about obscure tie breakers by pundits and intense battles to finalize the knockout stage bracket.

Yesterday, Russia and Uruguay, both safe from elimination, battled it out to settle the placement in Group A, as Uruguay smashed host nation Russia 3-0 to take the top of the group. Group B turned out to be a far more entertaining affair, as Spain needed a VAR reversal of an offsides stoppage time goal to draw Iran 2-2, while Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Iran saw both teams squander opportunities to win the match in the waning moments. Since both matches ended in a draw and Portugal and Spain sported identical records, it took tie-breaker number two (total goals scored) to decide the winner of Group B, instead of tie-breaker 17, which involves the head coaches facing off in a potato sack race around the Kremlin.

In today’s action, Group C and Group D will be decided. In Group C, Peru’s destiny is the only that is certain - they are eliminated. Beyond that, things are less clear. France (6 points) are already safe, but will need a point against Denmark (4 points) to finish atop the group. Denmark and Australia (1 point) are both very much alive in the race for qualification, albeit with very different odds. If Denmark can manage a draw or better against France and Australia loses to Peru, Denmark can claim the second spot. Beyond that, the wonky tie breakers come into effect, as a number of goal differential combinations and results can lead to the outside chance that Australia usurps Denmark as the odds-on favorite to take the second qualifying spot. Australia are going to want to win and win big in their match against Peru if they want a chance at playing a fourth match or more this World Cup.

Sadly, there are no Arsenal players featuring in Group C, although it is well within reason to still root for the Scorpion King himself, Olivier Giroud, because that wound is too fresh and he is too near and dear to our hearts.

Group D is going to be the group that everyone will be watching today, as Lionel Messi and a bunch of other dudes Argentina, with a whopping 1 total point and 1 total goal scored in group play, face the very real possibility of being eliminated from the World Cup before the knockout rounds even begin. While Croatia (6 points) is safe from elimination and could win their group with a draw, a feisty Iceland (1 point) team could put Argentina out of the tournament by beating Croatia. In Argentina’s match with Nigeria (3 points), a loss to the Super Eagles would be the end of what is most likely Messi’s last World Cup. However, an Argentina win and and Iceland loss would be the most favorable scenario for La Albiceleste, but an unfavorable outcome for those who like to watch the traditional titans fall flat on their faces.

For Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi and Nigeria, a win against Argentina would all but secure second place in their group, as they have a worse goal differential and have lost their head-to-head match with Croatia. Iwobi has had a fairly underwhelming World Cup up to this point, having been subbed out against a Croatia in their opening game loss and not featuring until the 90th minute in their win against Iceland. In Nigeria’s friendly with Argentina late last year, Iwobi scored a brace en route to a Nigeria victory. He will be eager to recreate that performance when it matters most.

Denmark v France, Group C

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

7AM PT | 10AM ET | 3PM BT | 5PM RT

US TV: Fox

US Stream: Telemundo

Australia v Peru, Group C

Fisht Stadium

7AM PT | 10AM ET | 3PM BT | 5PM RT

US TV: Fox Sports 1

US Stream: Telemundo

Nigeria v Argentina, Group D

Saint Petersburg Stadium

11AM PT | 2PMM ET | 7PM BT | 9PM RT

US TV: Fox

US Stream: Telemundo

Iceland v Croatia, Group D

Rostov Arena

11AM PT | 2PMM ET | 7PM BT | 9PM RT

US TV: Fox Sports 1

US Stream: Telemundo