Today at the World Cup: Saturday June 16

Argentina start against Iceland while Denmark take on Peru

Christian Eriksen
Image: Christian Eriksen will be Denmark's key player

It's an action-packed Saturday at the World Cup, with Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen among those set to feature.

After France beat Australia with the help of VAR, there is a tournament debut for Iceland, who face the daunting prospect of Argentina (2pm).

Peru will be making their first appearance at the World Cup since 1982 when they take on Denmark (5pm), with Croatia and Nigeria rounding off Saturday's bumper offering (8pm).

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Each morning during the tournament we'll bring you an overview of what's coming up that day. Here's what you can expect on day two of the 2018 World Cup…

World Cup fixtures

World Cup venues

Who's playing today?

France 2-1 Australia (Group C)

Also See:

Argentina v Iceland (Group D) - Moscow (Spartak), 2pm

Peru v Denmark (Group C) - Saransk, 5pm

Croatia v Nigeria (Group D) - Kaliningrad, 8pm

Essential World Cup reading

Essential World Cup reading

Read our in-depth features on all 32 teams competing at Russia 2018

What's the deal?

Iceland make their debut at the tournament, taking on Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and co when they face Argentina in Moscow in the opening fixture in Group D. Attentions then switch back to Group C as Peru take on Denmark in Saransk.

The day is rounded off with Croatia taking on Nigeria in Kaliningrad in the second game of Group D, with many hoping to see the Super Eagles in their eye-catching home strip.

Who will come out on top in the striking stakes between Sergio Aguero and Gylfi Sigurdsson?

Merson's predictions

France v Australia: I have gone for France to win this. Yes, they had a bad warm-up result against USA last weekend. But I just expect Australia to sit back and defend and it will just be a matter of time before France break them down.


Peru v Denmark: This will be a hard game for Denmark as Peru are a good team - they play some decent football and should not be underestimated. They have no massive stars in their team, but they get the ball down, pass and move, so I think this will be a good game and I am going for a 1-1 draw. Denmark have done well, but Peru could be the dark horses to come out of what is a hard group.


Argentina v Iceland: I have gone for Argentina to beat Iceland. We all remember Iceland from when they beat us at the last Euros, but they are not that good a team and the next game they got destroyed by France. Meanwhile, Argentina will be good going forward, although I do worry about them at the back - but I expect them to win this one.


Croatia face Nigeria in their Group D opener at the World Cup with Dejan Lovren looking to contain the Super Eagles stiker Kelechi Iheanacho

Croatia v Nigeria: I think Croatia will beat Nigeria. I watched Nigeria in the first half against England recently, and they were terrible. But they have already beaten Argentina last year and this is the problem - you get sides who are so inconsistent that you do not really know which one is going to turn up. Meanwhile, I do like Croatia, they are a good football team.


Ones to watch

Lionel Messi: It will be hard to take your eyes off the Argentina frontman when he captains his country against Iceland and much of their World Cup hopes will be on his shoulders.

After a torrid qualification campaign, it was Lionel Messi's hat-trick against Ecuador that secured Argentina's spot in Russia - avoiding a nail-biting play-off - and added another treble in a pre-tournament friendly against Haiti.

Argentina's World Cup expectations

Argentina's World Cup expectations

After scraping through World Cup qualification and embarrassing friendly defeats to Nigeria and Spain, what are the expectations for Argentina in Russia?

Luka Modric: Another La Liga talent, Luka Modric will be the key man for Croatia, who often have the air of the talented underdog and should not be underestimated.

Much has been made about Modric's ability to play in Croatia's midfield alongside Ivan Rakitic - think Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for England - but Zlatko Dalic appears to have found a system where both can shine.

Modric appears to have settled into his new No 10 role for his country with ease, and will surely be pulling the strings for Croatia this summer.

Also look out for…

Return of the Thunderclap?

Lars Lagerback steered Iceland to a stunning victory over England at the 2016 European Championships
Image: The Thunderclap was a huge hit at Euro 2016 - as were Iceland

Iceland famous ousted England at Euro 2016 and on the eve of their World Cup debut, boss (and sometime dentist) Heimir Hallgrimsson made a pitch for support as he prepares his side for the fearsome task of shackling Lionel Messi.

"It's a pretty little nation... you can't help but love us," Hallgrimsson said. "We haven't attacked anyone, we haven't been at war with anyone. We have only had the Cod War and nobody got hurt there."

The Viking Army is sure to be on the march in Moscow, though - get ready for the return of that epic 'thunderclap' chant...

No chickens allowed

Russian authorities have rejected an official request from the Nigeria supporters association to bring live chickens into World Cup stadiums - a common good luck charm in Nigeria.

Russian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Andrei Ernak, told Interfax: "Fans from Nigeria asked whether it is possible to go to the stadium with a chicken. This is their symbol, citizens are seen with them in all matches.

Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel
Image: Nigeria will take on Croatia in their opening group game - but chickens will not be welcome in the stadium

"We told them that it's by no means possible to come with a live chicken. But if the Nigerians are rooting for their team in other places, we will of course advise them where the chicken can be bought."

England news conference

Gareth Southgate's players will be back on the training pitch in Repino. Ruben Loftus-Cheek faced the media on Friday and another of Southgate's players will take to the mic at around 12.30pm.

Brazil and Germany are among other sides holding news conferences on Saturday.

Stat of the day

France have topped their group only twice in their last nine World Cup appearances (1998, 2014). In fact, they've won only three of their last 12 group games (D5 L4), which came against Togo, Honduras and Switzerland.

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On this day

England midfielder Bryan Robson scored after just 27 seconds against France during the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The goal was the quickest in World Cup history at the time and England went on to win 3-1 in Bilbao.

What the papers say

Guess who made the front pages of the papers on Saturday?

"You leave us speechless" was the front page of Portuguese paper A Bola with a picture of Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating scoring against Spain.

O Jogo and Record both go with one-word headlines to sum up Ronaldo - "monster" and "divine".

Portuguese paper A Bola Ronaldo
Image: Portuguese paper A Bola say they are left

"Godly Ronaldo," is the headline on Correio da manha, which adds: "CR7 reinforces his legend with three goals at the World Cup."

In Spain, there's regret that Fernando Hierro's side did not hold on for victory.

"We lacked luck and we left Cristiano," write AS. "The Portuguese levelled a game in which Spain were better."

"Cristiano sours our debut," is Marca's front page while Sport go with "spectacular".

After Uruguay's last-gasp win over Egypt, El Observador go with the headline "new blood" with Jose Gimenez celebrating the goal that gave his side their first opening win at the World Cup in 48 years.

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