Sunday 26 May 2019

5 things to look out for at the World Cup on Wednesday

England will learn their possible quarter-final opponents on Wednesday.

Germany will help to book their place in the last 16 on Wednesday (Frank Augstein/AP)
Germany will help to book their place in the last 16 on Wednesday (Frank Augstein/AP)

By Press Association Sport staff

Two more groups will be settled as the World Cup continues on Wednesday.

Here, Press Association Sport details what to look out for in the final matches of Groups E and F.

England’s dilemma

The potential quarter-final opponents for Gareth Southgate’s England will become clearer on Wednesday (Adam Davy/PA)

The debate over whether it will be better for England to finish top or second in their group will intensify, with the fates of Germany and Brazil to be decided. Should, as appears the most likely scenario before kick-off, the world champions finish as runners-up in Group F and the five-time champions top Group E, then the winners of their meeting in the last 16 could face the winners of England’s group in the quarter-finals. Mexico or Switzerland would likely be the path for second place in England’s group. Time to cheer on Belgium on Thursday?

Can Neymar get Brazil purring

Neymar celebrates after the final whistle in Brazil’s win over Costa Rica (Adam Davy/Empics)

The world’s most expensive player has battled back from a broken metatarsal to make the tournament, but has had to contend with some rough treatment in his side’s opening two games against Switzerland and Costa Rica. He did at least open his account in the 2-0 win against the Central Americans. And he could get more joy against Serbia, who are likely to need to win to progress and so might have to throw caution to the win as the game goes on.

Are Germany up and running?

Toni Kroos scored Germany’s last-gasp winner over Sweden (Frank Augstein/AP)

The world champions needed a last-gasp free-kick from Toni Kroos to beat Sweden last time out and keep their hopes of defending their title alive. Having lost to Mexico in their opener and struggled for long periods against the Swedes, especially in defence, they will be keen to send out a statement of intent against South Korea.

Can Sweden bounce back?

Sweden fans were left devastated by the late loss to Germany (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Sweden are still smarting from what they considered disrespectful German celebrations in the wake of their agonising defeat. They have also had to contend with the racist social media threats their midfielder Jimmy Durmaz has been subjected to in the wake of his foul from which Kroos scored the winning goal. They know victory against Mexico could still send them through, though, while their opponents, despite two wins from two, still need a point to guarantee progression, which would also confirm top spot.

Back to the football for Switzerland

Xherdan Shaqiri was one of three Swiss players punished by FIFA for celebrations against Serbia (Laurent Gillieron/AP)

There was plenty of political fall-out from Switzerland’s dramatic 2-1 win over Serbia. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored the goals, as well as Stephan Lichtsteiner were all fined by FIFA for their ‘double-headed eagle’ celebrations, but escaped bans so are free to face Costa Rica, against whom a point will guarantee qualification.

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