Premier League Watch
The final round of Group C matches saw eight Premier League players named in the respective starting XIs, but Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen was the pick of the bunch as he was moved from his normal position in central defence into a defensive midfield role for Denmark in their game against France. His impact was evident, particularly during a first half in which he limited the impact of his direct opponent: supposed star man Antoine Griezmann. The Dane’s relentless shadowing of Griezmann was such that the Atletico Madrid forward rarely managed to connect with Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud – more of that in our Tactics Truck section below.
In a compellingly tense final round of Group D fixtures, meanwhile, Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo stole the headlines with the astonishing 86th-minute volley that sent Argentina through to the knockout stages at the expense of Nigeria. But Rojo also proved his worth at the other end of the pitch on his recall to the starting XI, making 11 ball recoveries and winning nine aerial duels – the highest figures from either side. Rojo’s central defensive partner, Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi, also made up for Argentina’s shortcomings in midfield with 10 ball recoveries and a 100 per cent record from five aerial duels.
In the other Group D game, Cardiff’s Aron Gunnarsson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley and Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who managed 11 key passes, could not help Iceland stop the Croatian winning machine. Despite matching the group winners for the majority of the game – and drawing level through Sigurdsson’s well-hit penalty – the smallest nation at the finals fell to Ivan Perisic’s late winner and joined Nigeria on the plane home.