France and Denmark both advance to the last 16, with France topping Group C, after a goalless draw in their FIFA World Cup preliminary round football (soccer) match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday.
A game neither France nor Denmark needed to win produced the World Cup’s first 0-0 draw amid boos and whistles from fans on Tuesday.
A slow-paced game, officially No. 37 in Russia, was out of step with a vibrant tournament and ensured already-qualified France won Group C and Denmark advanced as runner-up. Both came through unbeaten.
The draw ensured that outcome, though Peru’s 2-0 victory over Australia playing at the same time meant the Danes would have advanced to the round of 16 even had they lost to France.
It was the longest a World Cup had gone without a goalless draw since 1954, which had none.
Much of a 78,011 crowd in Luzhniki Stadium whistled misplaced passes and slow play as the game progressed and Denmark protected its point, likely aware Australia had no chance of winning it’s game with Peru.
With ten changes across the two sides, there was a certain lack of cohesion to each team’s play. Christian Eriksen went closest for the Danes on two occasions, either side of the interval. The first chance saw him denied by a combination of Steve Mandanda – the oldest French player to make his World Cup debut, aged 33 – and Lucas Hernandez. After the break, the No10 snatched at an opening after some nice build-up play.
France, for their part, looked largely uninspired – even with their talisman Antoine Griezmann starting up front. Kylian Mbappe made a late cameo, but his introduction could not break the deadlock.
France wins Group C and will open the round 16 on Saturday afternoon in Kazan, playing the Group D runner-up. That could still be any of Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland or Argentina before their final games later Tuesday.
Denmark gets an extra day off and plays the Group D winner, likely Croatia, on Sunday evening in Nizhny Novgorod.
“We have reached our goal and the most important thing for us was to top the group. It has not ended up a very exciting match because the Danish team were satisfied with a draw as it meant they would qualify. But all the same, while their defence was very good, we had a number of scoring opportunities. We didn’t need to take risks in the match though as this result was ok for everyone. We tried to get a win but the last 15 minutes was, shall we say, a ‘neutral’ kind of match. It was a choice on Denmark’s part and you can understand it because they had reached their goal. It’s complicated for everyone [at the World Cup]. If you look at Spain, or Germany, they have had some difficulties too. Every team is fit physically, well organised, and we need to be prepared for more tough challenges.” Didier Deschamps, France coach said after the game.
“We just needed a point and were up against one of the best counter-attacking teams in the world, so we would have been stupid to come out and attack. We’re very pleased with the 0-0. Our goal was to progress to the last 16 and we had a tough group – one of the toughest in the competition, I believe. In fact, the team that has ended up with three points, Peru, probably played the best! But football is an ongoing process and you have to be able to handle playing different styles. It was a good performance by the boys, very disciplined, and they sacrificed everything to take us on to the next stage of the competition. For the team, this has been wonderful.” Age Hareide, Denmark coach said after the game.
“What we wanted was to qualify for the Round of 16 and finish top of our group, and that is what we have managed. It was difficult to find weak points in the Danish defence but we’ve got to where we wanted to be.” N’Golo Kante of France, Man of the Match, added in the post game presser.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.