Red’s pre-tournament favorites Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Argentina seem to be headed in different directions.
Spain and Portugal are likely moving on with 4 points each and playing Morocco and Iran respectively in the third game of group play. But neither side has impressed so far. Red calls Spain and Portugal mediocre in action to date. Each side needs a three goal outburst against the lesser competition. Red views Portugal as more likely to come up with a big game.
Any time you beat the reigning world champion, things are looking up. Mexico is certainly looking that way and a win over Sweden (make that S. Korea) tomorrow (not a given by any means) would all but assure an entry into the Round of 16 for El Tri and add to the swagger that comes with beating Deutschland. Look for more fireworks from Mexico’s powerful frontline and rising star Hirving Lozano and more solid keeping from Memo Ochoa.
And alas, Los Albicelestes are wondering where the bus came from that has run them over and drug them a kilometer down the road in this WC. A total ass-whomping by Croatia has put Argentina in a serious bind. There is a narrow path to the knock-out rounds but Messi and Co. no longer control their own fate. SB Nation has the scoop on Argentina’s chances.
Iceland ties or loses to Nigeria tomorrow.
Croatia then needs to beat or tie Iceland.
Argentina needs to beat Nigeria.
All three of those things happening will allow Argentina to advance.
If Iceland beats Nigeria tomorrow, there is still an outside chance that Argentina could sneak in, but for that to happen it would rely on them beating Nigeria and then Iceland losing to Croatia, and then it would come down to a tiebreaker, since both teams would be on four points.
Goal difference would decide it at that point, and if goal difference is the same, then it will go to yellow cards, of which Argentina has more than a few. If none of the above happens, Argentina is eliminated.
This looks like the end for Argentina as a serious world power for at least a couple of years. Maybe they come back in Copa America next year – but maybe not.
Other teams to watch (besides the obvious favorites to move on) include – Croatia, Senegal, Japan and Denmark. Meanwhile, Red is sort of wishing he had gotten on the Uruguay bandwagon – but he just doesn’t like Suarez or Cavani (the Robbins of South America).