World Cup action is hotting up as countries punch their tickets to the knockout stages, whilst others book their flights home. We have been spoiled with the action so far, with no 0-0 draws as of yet, and with so much on the line in these group games, it looks set to continue.
The star players in each match at the tournament have been rewarded with a Man of the Match ratings boost on the World Cup mode for FIFA Ultimate Team. A vote is available every evening after the games, with the winners receiving that stats boost. RealSport looks at Thursday’s games, Denmark vs Australia, France vs Peru and Argentina vs Croatia, and predicts which players could produce a Man of the Match performance.
Christian Eriksen (OVR 89 – 90)
Christian Eriksen didn’t often find himself in space in the clash against Peru, but when he did, he made it count. The Dane played in Yussuf Poulsen (OVR 80) to grab the decisive goal in the 1-0 win, and there is no doubt Eriksen will be the key again against Australia.
The Tottenham man will be up against Socceroo midfielders Mile Jedinak (OVR 72) and Massimo Luongo (OVR 72), and how that battle plays out will likely dictate how the game plays out. Given Eriksen’s quality, you can only imagine there being one winner.
Key an eye on: Aaron Mooy (OVR 76)
Olivier Giroud (OVR 84 – 85)
France laboured to a 2-1 victory over the Australians in their Group C opener, and that lacklustre performance has led to Didier Deschamps to rethink his plans. In training, it appears Deschamps has drafted Olivier Giroud into his starting line up to offer a focal point, especially if Australia sit deep.
With the likes of Antoine Griezmann (OVR 89) and Kylian Mbappe (OVR 85) playing off him, expect Giroud to receive a lot of joy in Samara. After all, the Chelsea striker is France’s joint-fourth highest goal scorer alongside Zinedine Zidane.
Keep an eye on: Kylian Mbappe (OVR 85)
Lionel Messi (OVR 94 – 95)
The biggest clash of the day comes in Group D between Argentina and Croatia. The Argentines are the stronger side on paper, but have a poor tournament record in recent times, whereas Croatia are a match for any side on their day. Croatia already picked up a win over Nigeria whereas Argentina stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Iceland, meaning the clash in Nizhny Novgorod is huge.
After missing a penalty against Iceland, the game is perfectly set up for Lionel Messi to show us all why many regard him as the greatest of all time. Messi bailed his side out time and time again on route to the final in the 2010 World Cup, as he did in World Cup qualifying, so don’t be surprised if he does it once more against Croatia.
Keep an eye on: Sergio Aguero (OVR 87)
Mario Mandzukic (OVR 83 – 84)
Don’t count Croatia out. They have so many weapons in their team, and with an old-fashioned number nine in the form of Mario Mandzukic, you can see them causing a fragile Argentine defence some problems.
The likes of Luka Modric (OVR 90) and Ivan Rakitic (OVR 86) will be a handful in midfield and expect Ivan Perisic (OVR 85) to be in charge of whipping balls into the area. With Perisic’s quality from wide areas and Mandzukic’s ability in the air, it is a clear recipe for success.
Keep an eye on: Ivan Perisic (OVR 85)