Celebrate, soccer fans: it’s a four-game Saturday.
After just the opener on Thursday, the first full day of World Cup action did not disappoint. The first two games were both decided in the final minutes, and the day was capped by an epic 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal. There’s a small chance we already witnessed the best match in the tournament, but there’s still four solid matchups on Saturday, including players like Messi and Paul Pogba.
Soccer Matches Today
6 a.m. Eastern: France vs. Australia
One of the top favorites to win it all, France makes their debut in Group C against Australia. The Socceroos are managed by Bert van Marwijk, who led Netherlands all the way to the World Cup final in 2010. Australia doesn’t have the same firepower, but they could use the same discipline and tactics to stymie a young French squad. With young stars like Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe ready to break out, this is a key tournament for the future of French football.
9 a.m. Eastern: Argentina vs. Iceland
Lionel Messi makes his debut at the 2018 World Cup. Perhaps he, like the rest of us, watched Ronaldo’s masterful hat trick on Friday and has a similar show planned. La Albiceleste will take on Iceland, the darlings of Euro 2016. Iceland have key players recovering from injury, and could have a tough time against some of the better athletes on Argentina. Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson injured his knee in April, and may not be ready to anchor the midfield against Paulo Dybala and the two-time World Cup champions.
12 p.m. Eastern: Peru vs. Denmark
Peru are in the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and open group play against Christian Eriksen and Denmark. Despite the cultural differences, these teams have something in common: they both struggled early in World Cup qualifying, and neither team has lost a match in 18 months\. Those hot streaks propelled them to Russia, but with France atop the group, there’s only room for one of these teams to advance. That makes this opener a massive match for determining who advances from Group C.
3 p.m. Eastern: Croatia vs. Nigeria
Watch. For. The. Kits.
It’s a similar situation for these teams as in Group C, where a titan and a minnow also reside in the group. Argentina is expected to cruise through, and Iceland are expected to struggle, leaving the door open for one of these teams to advance. Croatia have an elite midfield, led by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic. Nigeria have only missed one of the last seven World Cups, and are looking to reach the Round of 16 for the second consecutive World Cup.