Leo Messi and Argentina are in deep trouble. Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images
World Cup Recap: Day 8
Two big matches highlighted Thursday at the FIFA World Cup: France vs. Peru and Argentina vs. Croacia. Both would end in European victories and send heartbreak to two sets South American fans.
Denmark 1-1 Australia
Samara Arena, Samara
Denmark looked primed to build on their three points against Peru by following that up with a result against Australia. The Aussies would look to avoid elimination with at least a point, if not the win. Both sides came out with promising chances early before Denmark’s two best men would partner up to attain the lead in the 7th minute. Nicolai Jorgensen worked some magic inside the box, between two Australian defenders, and popped the ball over for Christian Eriksen to hit it first-time into the back of the net. The Danes would look the more dangerous side until the Video Assistant Referee would come into play. After consulting the video, the referee would recognize a handball on Denmark and award a penalty to Australia. It would be the Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak who would convert to level the score in the 38th minute. The score would remain tied at halftime.
Both sides would trade opportunities in the second half with Australia generating the more promising chances. Australia looked the part of a side not wanting to leave their qualification up to chance and forced Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to make four saves in the second half. The result would remain 1-1 with Denmark moving up to four points while Australia picks up its first and avoids elimination.
Analysis: Denmark had a great opportunity to move top of the group with a win. The Danes had a great first half and were the side with more quality overall. The decision from the VAR indeed complicated their result but Denmark still could’ve seen out a win. Australia does have to be commended for their fight because they avoided elimination despite not scoring a goal in open play. A victory over Peru could be enough to send them through, though that will be easier said than done.
Notable stat: Australia’s two goals so far have come from the penalty spot.
France 1-0 Peru
Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
France had a bit of a chip on their shoulder, garnering some criticism for winning their first match thanks to the Video Assistant Referee. Peru were staring at elimination after the Denmark-Australia tie and a win would really take the pressure off their back. Les Blues showed their talent early with Pogba getting a good look from range in the 12th minute while Raphael Varane had an excellent opportunity of a corner two minutes later. Antoine Griezmann and Paolo Guerrero would trade shots for their respective sides before Kylian Mbappe would decide this one in the 34th minute.
Peru would go down swinging. The South Americans outshot their European counterparts six to three in the second half, desperately looking to tie the encounter. Even a draw would benefit La Blanquirroja but they couldn’t find a quality shot past France goalie Hugo Lloris - who was only forced into one save in each half. Peru - with one game left to play - are eliminated from advancing to the knockout round while France begins to morph into the pre-tournament favorite they were touted to be.
Analysis: France picked up a great result against quality opposition. They face Denmark next, needing only a draw to assure themselves the top of the group. Peru will feel disappointed to come away with only a group stage appearance after a 36-year World Cup drought. Peru’s final match, against Australia, will be one dedicated to their supporters as they hope to leave Russia with a win.
Notable stat: At 19 years of age, Kylian Mbappe became France's youngest ever scorer at a FIFA World Cup.
Argentina 0-3 Croatia
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
Two talented sides, with European superstars, would face off in the likely decider of the top group spot. Argentina came in with pressure to better their form after a 1-1 draw against Iceland while Croatia looked to build on their 2-0 win over Nigeria. The first half would end in a scoreless draw as both sides had wasted opportunities in an otherwise tight encounter. Argentina’s clearest opportunity was one were a combination play saw midfielder Enzo Perez miss the open net. For Croatia, Mandzukic missed a heading opportunity - not the easiest opportunity but one that was makeable for a player of his caliber.
The second half is where Argentina came undone. Argentina’s goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero already had some risky plays, both in the Iceland game and in the first half against Croatia, but the costliest one would come in the 53rd minute. A horrible giveaway turns into an easy score - but still beauty of a finish - from Ante Rebic. Argentina would keep pushing forward, with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain entering the match as substitutions, to no avail. Luka Modric would then score a wonder goal from distance - equal to the caliber he’s scored for Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League - to put Croatia up 2-0 in the 80th minute. Ivan Rakitic would score Croatia’s third in stoppage time.
Analysis: Croatia left with the result they wanted, a spot into the round of 16, in what has been their best showing. In doing so, they scored three goals against Argentina. This matters because Argentina is already on the brink of elimination and in need of other results to advance. Argentina will be rooting for Nigeria on Friday to make life easier because an Iceland win would force Argentina to have work against their deficit in the goal differential. Even so, Argentina looks to have much bigger problems and it’s not a stretch to think they would lose in their match against Nigeria. So much intrigue left for the final matchday.
Notable stat: Croatian defender Vedran Corluka, who entered the match in second-half stoppage time, picked up his 100th appearance with the national team in the win against Argentina.
Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):
Friday, June 22
7 a.m. - [Group E] Brazil vs. Costa Rica (FS1, Telemundo)
10 a.m. - [Group D] Nigeria vs. Iceland (FOX, Telemundo)
1 p.m. - [Group E] Serbia vs. Switzerland (FOX, Telemundo)
When Bryce Young and CJ Stroud were drafted with the first two picks of the NFL Draft, we knew they would be compared to one another for years to come.
And here we are just 11 games into the season and one quarterback has already seen his head coach fired. Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to the media on Wednesday and discussed his decision to fire Frank Reich, and also set the record straight on how they arrived at the decision to draft Young.
In so many words, Tepper basically blamed the Texans for how the top of the draft played out. He mentioned Stroud by name and said the Panthers were ready to draft him at No. 2 overall until the Texans backed out of the three-team trade with the Bears.
Tepper made a point of saying everyone in their building had Bryce Young as the top player on their draft board, despite rumors about Frank Reich preferring Stroud.
CJ Stroud and the Texans have been so much better than Bryce Young and the Panthers that Tepper clearly felt it was necessary to defend himself, and the decisions he's made for the organization.
In the end, the person that gets the worst end of the deal is Bryce Young. Coaching changes can be very difficult on young quarterbacks. And it looks like he'll have to learn a new offense in his second year when the Panthers hire a new coaching staff.
How fortunate we are as Texans fans to have DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud leading the team moving forward.
With all of this in mind, is there a reason Texans fans haven't fully bought in to the new-look Texans? JJ Watt was a guest on The Pat McAfee Show this week and was asked about the team's inability to fill the stadium on Sundays.
As a former player for the Colts, McAfee always thought Houston had the loudest and best fans in the NFL. And while the Texans are 9th in attendance this year according to ESPN, even CJ Stroud has asked for the fans to fill the stadium.
So there is something to it. You can see the empty seats in photos. So why aren't the Texans packing NRG with a shiny new franchise QB?
We believe the recent history of the team is why fans are slowly coming back. McAfee wasn't here for:
Bill O'Brien cussing at fans during games
Trading DeAndre Hopkins away for next to nothing
The Jack Easterby disaster
Deshaun Watson allegedly blaming ownership for why he wanted out
The Deshaun Watson scandal
Firing back-to-back coaches after one season, and the list goes on.
Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!
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