Villa in Russia: Group stage games 1 and 2
World cup fever has certainly hit us here at Heart of The Holte, with three current players are representing the Villa in Russia, Birkir Bjarnason, Mile Jediank and Ahmed Elmohamady, we thought we would keep an eye on how they did!
The Egyptians were without Liverpool’s Mo Salah and our own Ahmed Elmohamady, as they played Uraguy in their opening group stage match.
Despite losing 1-0 at the death to a Giménez header from a set piece, Egypt look fairly strong throughout the game, and we’re perhaps lucky that Luis Suarez wasn’t in his typical goalscoring form.
Egypt had 41% of the ball but look relatively comfortable when in possession, and had eight shots throughout the game, with only three on target.
With the game looking to be a scoreless draw until very late, I was surprised that they didn’t bring on Salah or Elmo in the wings, with fresher legs and the opportunity to expose the high defensive line the Uruguayans held throughout the game.
In their second game the Pharaoh’s faced an in form Russia side filled with confidence playing on home turf after rolling Saudi Arabia over convincingly 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament.
Our beloved Elmo didn’t feature, again. Egypt suffered a 3-1 loss to Russia, with Mo Salah scoring Egypt’s only goal from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute. This time around Egypt had more of the ball with 51% possession and the Egyptians also managed more shots with thirteen, but only one on target…
No wonder they’ve lost their opening two games, Salah needs the wonderful delivery from our Elmo!
Egypt sit third in their group, unable to advance as they are on 0 points, with -3 goal difference. They will be looking to get their first win of the tournament in their last game against Saudi Arabia to avoid finishing last in the group. At least this means Elmo can come home and begin a full preseason under his belt for the Villa.
Mile Jedinak’s Australia faced France in a tough opening game and trailed the game due to a controversial VAR penalty which was converted by Athletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezman. Shortly after Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona quite literally handed the Aussies a lifeline after handling the ball in the area.
Our own Mile Jedinak stepped up to the penalty spot and converted calmly to equalise. Despite the determination from the Aussies, France broke their hearts with a late goal from Paul Pogba, who chipped Matt Ryan, but unfortunately went down as an own goal due to a touch from Behich.
Australia surprised me with how comfortable they looked on the ball, they managed to have 45% possession, with six shots, only one on target though. Despite the poor result for the Oz, this will be a game that goes down in history, with the first VAR penalty being awarded at the World Cup, savour that knowledge for a pub quiz!
They managed to dust themselves down in their second games against Denmark, despite trailing only seven minutes into the game from a fantastic volley from Spurs superstar Christian Eriksen, which went straight through the hands of goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.
You wouldn’t believe the luck of the Aussies, as they were awarded another penalty from a handball committed by Yussuf Poulsen in the box, and our big man Mile converted a second penalty to bring the two teams level.
This time around Australia managed to have 53% possession with twelve shots and four on target.
Similarly to Elmo’s Egypt, the Aussies sit third in their group, but they are still able to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament if France beat Denmark and if Australia beat Peru, Mile will certainly have the team ready for their last group stage game and hope to get them over the line.
One of the seven wonders of the world, Birkir Bjarnason, started against Argentina in Iceland’s opening game of the tournament on the left wing, and played very well against an Argentinian side which had Messi, Aguero and Di Maria as its front three.
This was Iceland’s first ever World Cup appearance and it was certainly one to remember, despite being 1-0 down early doors from an Aguero goal.
Birkir had a chance early on in the game after receiving the ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson, but Birkir unfortunately snatched at the ball too quickly and dragged his shot wide (I know he would have scored if he was wearing claret and blue).
Iceland came back though after Iceland applied some pressure in the Argentinian third, with Sigurdsson crossing the ball to the near post for our man Birkir, who (magnificently) distracted the keeper, just getting a tiny touch to knock it over Caballero and allowed Finnbogason to smash home to put the two sides level. Surely this classes as an assist for Birkir?
Iceland managed to get out of jail after giving away a penalty, only for it to be saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, leaving penalty taker Messi speechless. This proved to be the defining moment in the match as Iceland took a huge step towards the knockout stages with a 1-1 draw against the favourites of the group.
In their second game against Nigeria, Icleand couldn’t replicate their previous form as they suffered a 2-0 defeat, with goals from pacey forward Ahmed Mussa, who struck a wonderful volley to put the Nigerians ahead, and then rounded Hannes Halldorsson in the second half to double their lead.
Iceland managed to have 39% possession throughout the game, with nine shots and only three on target.
Iceland had a lifeline through a penalty, though Sigurdsson missed late on and Iceland couldn’t come back from this.
Whilst Iceland also sit in third place, with 1 point, it is still possible for them to advance to the knockout stages if they beat Croatia and Argentina beat Nigeria, though they would have to score a fair few goals, as they sit on -2 goal difference, with Argentina very close by on -3. It’s possible, you never know what could happen in the beautiful game.
Hopefully I will be back after the next round of games with good news and we can enjoy watching our Villans in Russia, it’s been a fun World Cup so far! Tweet me @danmorgi34 and let me know what you’ve thought about the tournament!
Whilst you’re here, why not check out our latest YouTube video? Unpopular Opinion – Aston Villa Edition. Linked below!