Ecuador v Senegal
Ecuador produced a fantastic result against the Netherlands on Friday and after going 1-0 down early on, it seemed like the Dutch might run away with it. Ecuador’s saviour Enner Valencia stepped up to the plate again and delivered his third goal of the World Cup and is Ecuador’s only goal scorer of the competition.
It’s all to play for on the final day with Senegal needing to win to progress to the knockout rounds, the African side have sorely missed their key man, Sadio Mane, and have looked rather wasteful in front of goal. The reigning champions of Africa were somewhat shaky in the final 25 minutes of play against Qatar, which is a worrying sign going into this clash.
Ecuador’s 1-1 result with the Netherlands was their first game with both teams scoring since their same score stalemate with Argentina in the qualifiers. Seven of their last eight have finished with both teams not scoring. 14 of Senegal’s last 23 matches had the same result and the times when the opposition scored was when Senegal were playing a weakened team. There’s a lot at stake here, and Ecuador will do their best to keep things cagey, something they’ve been extremely good at in the build up to this tournament and we think changes will be few and far between.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE (NO)
Netherlands v Qatar
Netherlands will go through to the knockout rounds no matter what happens in any of the matches in Group A, obviously they will be aiming to win here but so they can secure the top spot of the group and they will more than likely rest some of their key players as Qatar don’t really pose much of a threat to a team of the Dutch’s quality.
The hosts netted their first ever World Cup goal against Senegal last time out, substitute Mohammed Muntari scored a fantastic header to etch his name in the Qatari history books. However, they became the first side to be knocked out this tournament and only the second hosts in history after South Africa in 2010. They’ll want to go out with a bang, but ultimately it’s hard to see them mustering up anything here.
All of the games that have finished with over 3.5 goals (6 of 28 total matches) have virtually all come from games were there has been a large differential in quality; England v Iran (6-2), France v Australia (4-1), Spain v Costa Rica (7-0), Portugal v Ghana (3-2), Senegal v Qatar (3-1) and finally Croatia v Canada (4-1). We think this game falls into the same category and it could be a blow-out win for the Dutch.
NETHERLANDS TO WIN AND OVER 3.5 GOALS
Iran v USA
After a crucial win against Wales, Iran are in a good position going into the final match of the Group Stages. Anything but a loss would take them through to the next round of the competition for the first time since 1978, and after being knocked out of the Group Stages of their last four World Cups this would be a much welcome change for Iran.
Despite playing well during the World Cup, the USA find themselves in a sticky situation where they need to win in order to go through to the next stages. They were the better team in both of their matches against Wales and England but failed to capitalise on their dominant spells in the matches and ended up with two points from them They are the youngest side in the competition and that inexperience is clearly showing here.
The tactical matchup going into this one is going to be an interesting one with both sides playing a highly physical form of football. Iran like to unsettle their opponents with strong challenges and a high press right from the first whistle and whilst the USA don’t foul as much they do love to trigger a press which could certainly put the Iranians under a lot of pressure.
The Iranian coach, Carlos Queiroz, is very experienced in the world of football management and will know how to set his team up to put them in the best position to get the result they need.
DOUBLE CHANCE – IRAN DRAW
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