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5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Friday

By June 21, 2018No Comments

Five-time winners Brazil will attempt to secure a first win, while Serbia have an opportunity to make history.

Here, Press Association Sport ponders what to look out for on Friday:

Brazil v Costa Rica

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Friday PLZ Soccer
Tite’s side made an underwhelming start to the tournament (Nick Potts/PA)

Like many of the pre-tournament favourites, Brazil endured a rocky start in Russia. Neymar was unable to inspire his country in the opening draw against Switzerland but coach Tite will be buoyed by the fact his star man was able to train on Wednesday having experienced pain in his ankle the previous day. Opponents Costa Rica travel to St Petersburg as firm underdogs and knowing that a second successive defeat will result in elimination.

Serbia v Switzerland

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Friday PLZ Soccer
Aleksandar Kolarov gave Serbia a perfect start (Mark Baker/AP)

History awaits Serbia in Kaliningrad. Having already defeated Costa Rica, back-to-back victories would see them reach the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since they started competing as an independent nation in 2006. Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland stand in their way and they should provide a stiff test, having begun by coming from behind to hold Brazil. Another draw in this encounter could leave Group E wide open.

Nigeria v Iceland

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Friday PLZ Soccer
Can Heimir Hallgrimsson defy the odds with Iceland again? (Tim Goode/Empics)

Building on their impressive showing at Euro 2016, Iceland increased their reputation on the international stage by securing a surprise opening draw against Argentina in Group D. Heimir Hallgrimsson’s side cannot afford to rest on their laurels, however, as this appears to be a crucial fixture in their quest to progress. Nigeria produced an uninspiring display as they tamely lost to Croatia and must quickly improve.

Media briefings

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Friday PLZ Soccer
Mesut Ozil’s place in the Germany team has been questioned (Tim Goode/Empics)

There could be some awkward questions coming the way of Germany coach Joachim Low. The defending champions, tipped by many to retain their crown, suffered a shock opening defeat to Mexico. The early setback has reportedly prompted a crisis meeting among the German players ahead of Saturday’s crucial game against Sweden in Sochi. Low will address journalists on Friday amid increasing calls for him to change tactics and drop Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil. Elsewhere, Roberto Martinez will preview Belgium’s Group G clash with Tunisia.

Also coming up

A selection of England players will face the media at their base in Repino, looking ahead to Sunday’s clash with Panama. Should Group G rivals Belgium avoid defeat against Tunisia on Saturday, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will ensure a place
in the knockout stages with victory in Nizhny Novgorod following Monday’s last-gasp win in Volgograd.