World Cup Top 5: Gameweek 3
We’re going to go on record to say that this is the best World Cup we can remember. The games just keep getting better and the shocks keep getting bigger. Spain and, with a little more inevitability, England are out; Italy and Uruguay are struggling; favourites Brazil and Germany looked less than impressive in Gameweek 2; Costa Rica and Chile look contenders; Honduras and Nigeria provided entertainment; and even France seem to be getting along.
If it’s at all possible, the group stages being decided this week should provide even more in the way of goals and drama. The England game against Costa Rica is as much of a dead rubber as you’ll find in the World Cup but we think it could still be entertaining enough with Hodgson’s men less than likely to rollover. Here are our final Top 5’s for the week.
Netherlands v Chile – Monday 23rd June 17:00 on ITV1
While at first glance there may not be too much to play for here, when you consider the runner-up in Group B will probably play Brazil in the last 16, we can expect this to be a game they will both be going out to win. It should also be the best game in terms of quality all week. Chile have been fascinating to watch. They play like no other side in tournament adopting an almost 3-3-3-1 system with bags of pace and pressing. Technically excellent, and roared on by the best support in the tournament (baring Brazil), we genuinely think they have a real chance to do something in the knockout stages. Van Persie’s suspension for this game could prove decisive.
Prediction: Netherlands 1-2 Chile
Key Players: Robben (Netherlands)/Vidal (Chile)
Croatia v Mexico – Monday 23rd June 21:00 on ITV4
This should be a cracking contest with Croatia needing the victory and the Mexicans only need a point to qualify. Mexico have looked pretty watertight at the back on paper with two cleansheets under their belt – only Nigeria, weirdly, share the same record. Of course, goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa can take most of the credit for that. But Croatia have looked far from average and were superb against Cameroon last gameweek scoring four in the process. In essence, this is a winner takes all. We expect it to be tighter than the Brazil v Mexico game was, for example, but it still should be a tense and memorable game.
Prediction: Croatia 2-1 Mexico
Key Players: Mandzukic (Croatia)/Peralta (Mexico)
Italy v Uruguay – Tuesday 24th June 17:00 on ITV4
This is the real standout for Gameweek 3. It’s essentially a knockout game where the winner takes all. Level on points and probably level in ability, this is a must watch. The only problem being it’s on at the same time as the England v Costa Rica game. Take our advice and put this on your laptop while you’re watching England run riot. We don’t see many goals here. Italy only need a point because of their superior goal-difference and they have always known how to slow down and lock up a game. Luis Suarez empathically answering the question of whether he was fit during the England game and naturally we think he could be the difference.
Prediction: Italy 0-1 Uruguay
Key Players: Candreva (Italy)/Suarez (Uruguay)
Ecuador v France – Wednesday 25th June 21:00 on BBC1
What has happened to France? They are in danger of looking real contenders for the World Cup with goals flowing through the team. Eight in two games to be exact. They look to have a better team morale than they’ve had since the European Championships in 2000. Even without their star man, Franck Ribery, France have looked arguably the best side in Brazil going forward. Ecuador simply need to match Switzerland’s result against Honduras. They are ahead on goal difference currently but it’s going to be a struggle to beat France – which is exactly what we expect they’ll need to do. As they showed against England in the warm-up games though, they will be incredibly difficult to break down and their centre forward Enner Valencia has now scored 7 in his last 6 internationals. This could be a cracker.
Predictions: Ecuador 1-2 France
Key Players: E.Valencia (Ecuador)/Pogba (France)
USA v Germany – Thursday 26th June 17:00 on BBC (TBC)
OK. Hands up. We had Portugal v Ghana pencilled in for this last game in our Top 5 until 00:40 last night. Thanks, Clint Dempsey. Then Portugal equalised. And we had to rewrite it all again. Thanks, Varela. Basically all teams can qualify which makes Group G the most interesting. The permutations aren’t simple. But we’ll give it a go: USA and Germany both need a point. Portugal need a big win and a big loss for USA. Ghana need a win and a loss for USA or a big loss for Germany. Get it? It will be interesting to see how USA and Germany set up with both only needing a point. We don’t expect them to play out a bore-draw. But 10mins to go, 0-0… they may both ease off a little. Betting men would say draw.
Predictions: USA 0-0 Germany
Key Players: Dempsey (USA)/Muller (Germany)
So there we have our Top 5 matches for Gameweek 3. You should be warned that there is the first rest day of the World Cup on Friday. So make plans: go see your mum, your friends and take your partner for a meal. It’s going to be another week before you get another chance.