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

By June 19, 2018No Comments

Portugal and Spain will seek their first wins of the World Cup after their entertaining opening draw, while Saudi Arabia will bid to avoid further ignominy.

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

Portugal v Morocco

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Wednesday PLZ Soccer
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the opening game and will seek to add to his tally (Adam Davy/Empics)

After stunning Spain in Sochi, the Cristiano Ronaldo roadshow goes to Moscow, eager for more heroics for Portugal against Morocco. Ronaldo’s hat-trick, sealed with a sublime 88th-minute free-kick, sealed a point against Spain. Now the Real Madrid marksman will hope to add to his personal tally with the European champions’ first win of the tournament. Morocco were unfortunate to lose their opening game to Iran, but know they could be eliminated unless they claim a point.

Iran v Spain

Only one of these nations can qualify with a win and it is not the 2010 world champions. Spain showed enough in the Iberian derby to prove they have swiftly moved on from the departure of head coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament. Now the star-studded side will be eager for a first victory. Iran’s first World Cup finals win in 20 years boosted confidence, but boss Carlos Queiroz lost Roozbeh Cheshmi to injury in what could be a significant blow.

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is expected to win his 100th cap for Uruguay, who will be favourites to earn a second win of the tournament, despite making hard work of Egypt. Saudi have not won at the finals since USA 1994, when Saeed Al-Owairan’s slaloming solo strike earned victory over Belgium. Their “shameful” 5-0 loss to hosts Russia on opening night means Saudi coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is already under huge pressure.

Media briefings

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Wednesday PLZ Soccer
Argentina’s Lionel Messi had a penalty saved in the opening game with Iceland (Adam Davy/Empics)

‘Will he still take penalties?’ ‘How has the miss affected his confidence?’ will likely be some of the questions asked of Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli about Argentina captain Lionel Messi in the pre-match media conference ahead of Thursday’s game with Croatia, after the Barcelona playmaker’s spot-kick was saved against Iceland.

Also coming up

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Wednesday PLZ Soccer
Dele Alli and his England team-mates have been enjoying darts contests with the media (Owen Humphreys/PA)

England have a rest day, presumably to practise darts ahead of their reunion with the media. There will be preview media conferences ahead of Thursday’s fixtures between Denmark and Australia and France and Peru, whose fans continue to enjoy the tournament more than most.