FIFA World Cup Group Stage reach The End Game: Uncertainty until the last day

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By Jaimer Dela Cruz

“We are in the end game now”. A famous line from Avengers: Infinity War uttered by Doctor Strange seems to be a fitting introduction to this preview as we look on the number of possibilities that contending nations will undergo to proceed to the next stage of the tournament.

As exciting as it can be, the 2018 FIFA World Cup has offered a huge amount of excitement to each and every one watching regardless of which nation they’re supporting. Up until the last matches of the group stage, there are teams that seem to be out of contention already but are still there to make some miracles happen.

Group D: A Fatal Three-way chase for the Round of 16 Ticket

We all thought it will be a walk in the park for Argentina in this group stage but it seems like they are walking towards an embarrassing exit as they only gathered one point in their first two matches. Iceland are enjoying their world cup experience despite the fact they were handed a defeat by Nigeria. They are still in contention though as an upset over Croatia could send them to the round of 16 in their debut appearance in the tournament.

They might have won their game over Iceland, but Nigeria are still very much open to going home as they now have to face Argentina, who hoped for them to win in their last match to give the South Americans a glimmer of hope of making the knockout stage. Should La Albiceleste hurdle past the Super Eagles and Iceland only manage to get a draw or even lose against Croatia, they will then make it through and face the winners between Denmark and France.

Group E: Brazil’s Dominance is Missing

After two matches, Brazil find themselves level in the standings with Switzerland who drew with them in their opening match. They both sit at the top with four points and are being separated by a lone goal difference. With Brazil facing the round of 16 aspirants Serbia, it will be a thrilling match as the Eastern Europeans go through the round of 16 should they win over the five-time champions. The Brazilians could also miss out on the knockout stage if Switzerland manage to win over Costa Rica.

But should the Canarinho win over Serbia, Switzerland just have to hold Los Ticos at bay to progress to the knockout stages. Although the results seem be written on paper already, we still can’t count out an upset being brewed by Selecao’s opposition.

Group H: Underdogs look on Course for Round of 16 Appearances

It never came to mind that Poland can be shown the exit doors at this early stage of the tournament. They’re a bunch of skilful players with Robert Lewandowski leading them upfront but still, we see them flying home after their final game against Japan.

With only pride left to play for, Poland will either give Japan a headache by dealing them with a defeat making the match between Senegal and Colombia an easy one to predict for both of them as they just need to hold each other on a nil-nil draw to progress.

Japan will never look into the possibility of taking it easy against Poland as they would need to secure all three points to make sure either Senegal or Colombia get eliminated. With the tenacity that they’ve shown in their last match against Senegal, a win over a dejected Polish squad seem to be inevitable.

Los Cafeteros don’t want to go just yet as they drubbed Poland on course to a three-nil win. With a win in mind over Senegal, they should be able to make it to the knockout stages for the second straight time after their quarterfinals exit in Brazil.

As mind-boggling as it seems, the last three days of the group stages will surely provide agony, history, and most of all, sheer excitement. Who do you think will join Uruguay, Russia, Spain and Portugal in the last 16?