As Group G and H conclude the group stage, the last four teams rounding out the group stage were found. Group G saw it’s two advancing teams play each other for seeding in the group, and placement in the knockout rounds. Group H saw three of their four teams play emotional games with everything on the line. Our World Cup Review takes a look at the end of the group stage!
Group G already knew who was moving on from the Group stage. Belgium and England were through, and played each other to determine who would finish first and second. Tunisia and Panama played a match where the loser could go home with the wooden spoon AKA last place in the entire tournament!
Belgium: 1 England: 0
In a match where both teams were reported playing not to win so they could be drawn in the “easier” side of the knockout round bracket, England and Belgium took the pitch in their final group stage match. This game showcased two teams without their normal starting 11’s. Both sides tested the waters early on, but of the two sides, Belgium looked the more likely to score. They were the only team to get chances in the first half. The game entered halftime 0-0 to no one’s surprise!
As the second half started Belgium went right back on the front foot! six minutes in Adnan Januzaj had a chance from distance and took it, the shot flew fast and dipped at the last second past England Keeper Jordan Pickford! The goal was beautiful, the goal celebration by Michy Batshuayi was better. He picked up the ball to punt it into the net, but hit the post instead. The ball ricocheted back into Batshuayi. Yes, I’m talking about celebrations that’s how uneventful this game was!
The game ended 1-0 in favor of Belgium. While England may feel like they have the easier route to move on in the tournament, it’ll be interesting if their normal starting 11 can come back next week and get back to the way they were playing in the first two group stage matches. However, as our great Brit writer, and founder of Philly Sports Network has said early and often about England this World Cup… England will find a way to bring football home. IT’S COMING HOME!
Belgium advance to play runners-up in Group H, while England play the winners of Group H!
Panama: 1 Tunisia: 2
In a match that would determine last place in the entire tournament, Panama took on Tunisia. Both sides looked good to start the game. A nice flow was present with plenty of chances for both sides. In the 33rd minute the deadlock was broken on a bizarre play.
Panama started an attack with José Luis Rodríguez he had space just outside the box to fire a shot. His chance fizzed into the box, and was deflected by Tunisian defender Yassine Meriah into his own net. Tunisia’s keeper was anticipating the shot to move to his left, but the deflection made the ball move right instead. Panama was up and took the lead to halftime!
As the second half started Tunisia came out firing on all cylinders. Six minutes into the half Tunisia were on the break. Some nice combination play in the box lead to Fakhereedine Ben Youssef’s tying goal. With the game now tied Tunisia looked to go in for the kill. Another great passing sequence in the 66th minute saw Wahbi Khazri tap home a chance at the doorstep of Panama’s goal. Tunisia went up 2-1!
The goal lead was enough to get Tunisia their first win of the tournament, while it confirmed that Panama would finish 32 out of 32 in the World Cup Finals.
Group G was already knew who was going through and who was not, the final matchday served only to iron out the standings! Belgium finished first and England second; both are on to the Round of 16. Tunisia and Panama are headed home.
Belgium will go on to play the runners-up in Group G in the Round of 16, while England will take on the Group G winners in the Round of 16!
Confirmation, in case it's needed.
The 2018 #WorldCup group phase…….is complete. pic.twitter.com/DFOGEQknnM
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018
Group H has been one of the delights of the this World Cup so far! The team that was favored coming into the tournament Poland starts matchday three in last place while Colombia, Senegal and Japan all fight for the two knockout round spots!
Senegal: 0 Columbia: 1
This match was set to be a deciding one for the group. Should one of these two nations win, they would be automatically through to the Round of 16. The match started with both sides feeling each other out. Both sides had chances but lacked the finishing touch, as each team tried to control the tempo. Right when Colombia was getting into a nice flow, their star midfielder James Rodríguez went down with an injury. James had to be subbed off in 31st minute. This should have given the advantage to Senegal, but they seemed a shell of what they were in their first two matches. The game was scoreless going into the half.
As the second half started, Senegal knew that if they didn’t concede a goal that they would be through to the knockout rounds. Colombia knew if they didn’t score they’d be out of the World Cup. Colombia came out looking for the win in the second half. The game tilted their way as they created chances while Senegal sat back to try to not concede. The whole game changed in the 74th minute.
Colombia won a corner. A ball was lofted into the center of the box. Yerry Mina of Colombia out jumped everyone and got his head to it. His header moved toward the goal but bounced on the ground before crossing the line. The ball was perfectly between the keeper and the Senegalese defender on the post. The ball bounced between both and went into the net! The keeper was quick to react to the header, and almost got to the ball. The defender was closer to the ball but didn’t react to it as it flew by him and into the net. Colombia went up 1-0.
In the remaining 16 minutes Senegal pushed to find a goal, but none of the chances were lethal enough to get a goal. The result stood Colombia over Senegal 1-0.
This result saw Columbia move to the top of the group. It also meant that Senegal would have to see what happened in the Japan-Poland match to decide their fate.
Japan: 0 Poland: 1
In a game where Japan could advance with a win, they looked awfully flat. Poland who were lauded as a favorite in this group came into the match already eliminated losing both of their first two matches. This match was one of showing pride in representing their country for Poland.
Poland came into the match determined to end their World Cup on a high note, and possibly knock Japan out of the World Cup. They controlled the game in the first half dictating the flow of play. While Japan did have a few opportunities to break on a counter attack nothing came of it for the Samurai Blue. The first half finished 0-0.
Japan knew they had their destiny in their own hands, but continued to allow Poland to dictate the flow of play in the second half! The turning point in the match came as many of them have in Russia 2018, from a set piece. A Polish free kick in the 59th was sent into the box, and floated towards the far post. Jan Bednarek, one of Poland’s center back, followed the trajectory of the ball unmarked. He met the ball where it fell volleying it into the net past Japan’s keeper! The 1-0 lead for Poland didn’t doom Japan, but it was enough to light a fire under them for a time.
Japan tried to get on the front foot after going down, that was until they heard the news that Colombia had the lead over Senegal. After this news made its way to Japan they were content to see the game out with the 1-0 score line. This was because they knew that the two results would see them through to the knockout rounds. The game ended 1-0 in favor of Poland.
These two results dictated who went through to the knockout stages. Senegal’s loss to Colombia confirmed that Colombia would be through to the knockout round. Their points total ensured Colombia’s win of Group G. Japan would finish second in a very interesting way. In the standings, Japan and Senegal had the same number of points, same number of goals scored and the same number in-goal differential. This meant that the tie breaker went to the FIFA fair play category. This determined that Japan would go through because they had fewer cards than Senegal over the three group stage games. Heartbreak for Senegal, Jubilation for Japan.
Columbia take on Group H runners-up England in the round of 16; Japan will take on Group H winners Belgium in the round of 16!
Group H came down to the finest of margins. #JPN go through ahead of #SEN, with the Lions of Teranga eliminated on Fair Play points. pic.twitter.com/YCDk0hSWmL
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018
Here’s how Group’s G and H will meet in the knockout round:
Group G winners, Belgium, take on Group H runners-up, Japan, on Monday, July 2nd at 2 pm EST. Group H winners, Columbia, will play Group G runners-up, England, on Tuesday July 3rd, at 2 pm EST!
The World Cup Knockout stage is set!
So…#URUPOR 🇺🇾🇵🇹#ESPRUS 🇪🇸🇷🇺#FRAARG 🇫🇷🇦🇷#CRODEN 🇭🇷🇩🇰#BRAMEX 🇧🇷🇲🇽#SWESUI 🇸🇪🇨🇭#BELJPN 🇧🇪🇯🇵#COLENG 🇨🇴🏴
Excited? #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Kll9X54wbO
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018
More action to come!
As the tournament roles on, we will continue our reviews! Come back Sunday July 1st to see our reviews role on to the knockout rounds!
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Mandatory Credit: Getty Images