PORTUGAL and Spain brought the World Cup to life on Friday night and there are four games to savour on Super Saturday.

The action starts at 11am with France v Australia and a marathon day finishes with Croatia v Nigeria at 8pm. In between we have Argentina v Iceland and Peru v Denmark and I plan to watch at least three – or just two if it's a dry and I hit the fairways instead before catching up with the US Open late on.

Here are my thoughts on all four games – the top tips will be on the usual thread.

France v Australia (11am)

France are a bit of an enigma but should launch their World Cup glory bid with victory against Australia.

Didier Deschamps has a mountain of talent at his disposal – the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe – but they don't always put on a united front and play as a team.

Losing to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final and crashing out in the last eight at the 2014 World Cup means this will be Deschamps's last chance for glory and they should at least make the semis.

The Aussies won't be underestimated but are.pretty limited side and the fact Tim Cahill is still part of the squad says it all. Celtic star Tom Rogic will be their key man but may struggle to impose himself against one of the world's best midfields.

France are just 3-10 with Ladbrokes to win and I can see a 2-0 success so take them -1 at 4-5 with betfair.

The Aussies failed to win a game at Brazil 2014, struggled to qualify with a play-off victory against Syria and don't score many goals. Back France to win to nil at 8-11 with Betfred.

When looking for a first scorer there are many candidates but why look past Griezmann who had a sensational season at Atletico Madrid and has just announced he's staying with the club.

He netted a double in his last big game against Marseille in the Europa League Final and I'm backing him to score first at 10-3 with bet365. To net any time he is value at 11-10 with McBookie.

Celtic fans will be looking to support Rogic and he is 28-1 at Unibet to break the deadlock and 9-1 to score.

  • Best Bet: Griezmann to score

Argentina v Iceland (2pm)

Lionel Messi could be destined to end his career without a major international medal but he'll go down swinging.

Argentina aren't fancied by many to go all the way in Russia but on paper should be talked about in the same breath as the likes of France and Spain.

They came close four years ago before losing to Brazil after extra time in the quarters but struggled in qualifying before Messi's hat-trick away to Ecuador edged them through.

The Barcelona superstar netted seven goals in qualifying despite starting just 10 games – and of the eight ties he missed his country won none.

So there is no doubt Argentina rely on Messi – probably too much – and another stat to back that up is the fact he is the only player to score for his country in more than six games.

So all eyes will be on the world's best or second best player – depending on your opinion on Cristiano Ronaldo – when he runs out against World Cup debutants Iceland who performed so well at Euro 2016 two years ago.

Iceland are a side mainly of journeymen and Gylfi Sigurdsson who has had injury problems and that's resulted in poor friendly results. A 3-2 defeat to Norway and 2-2 draw to Ghana suggests they won't handle Messi and Co and the talisman looks a great bet to net at 4-5 with McBookie and 11-5 with the Scots firm to score first.

Man City star Sergio Aguero often struggles at international level, possibly from being in Messi's shadow, and is 29-20 at Marathonbet to score.

Boss Jorge Sampaoli also has Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala to call on so has serious firepower but there are question marks at the back where they lack pace and No.2 keeper Willy Caballero – deputy to Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea – will be between the sticks.

Argentina are a best 4-11 at bet365 and that's good on rolling accas while Iceland are 12-1 with the draw 4-1.

Iceland scored the least goals of Europe's group winners in qualifying (16) and will focus on stopping the Argentines.

That will be difficult if Messi is in the mood but don't expect a goalfest and the South Americans would be happy to win 1-0 or 2-0.

Consider under 2.5 goals at 10-11 with Marathonbet and Argentina to win to nil at 19-10 at McBookie.

  • Best Bet: Messi to score first

Peru v Denmark (5pm)

The other Group C game is between Peru and Denmark – two sides who will fancy their chances of qualifying behind the French.

Peru were boosted pre-tournament when skipper and star striker Paolo Guerrero was cleared to play despite failing a drugs test.

With him they have a chance to trouble the Danes in the final third but the South Americans only squeezed through in a play-off against New Zealand and will find Denmark a tough nut to crack.

The Danes destroyed Republic of Ireland 5-1 in their play-off and Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen, who bagged a hat-trick in Dublin, could be the difference between the sides.

Eriksen was Denmark’s top scorer in qualifying with 11 goals. He takes their set-pieces and penalties and looks the most likely Dane to get on the scoresheet at 11-5 with Unibet.

Alternatively back him to score first at 13-2 with bet365. The Danes should win at 16-11 with Unibet or play safer with draw no bet at 8-11 with Unibet.

  • Best Bet: Denmark draw no bet

Croatia v Nigeria (8pm)

The second Group D game sees Croatia take on Nigeria and the Europeans will be targeting first place or second at worst. Whoever finishes runners-up is likely to face France in the last 16 so that’s one to avoid.

Croatia are fancied by many to go deep into the tournament and in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic boast two world-class midfielders in their primes at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

Mario Mandzukic isn’t getting younger but will be dangerous in the lone-striker role.

Nigeria have plenty of well-known stars such as John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho but their form is inconsistent.

I’m taking Croatia to edge this one and they are a best 8-11 at McBookie with the Africans as big as 19-4 at bet365.

Modric is worth a look at 17-4 with sportingbet to score.

  • Best Bet: Croatia
1 Comment
  1. peter b 1 year ago

    1st time poster
    Denmark (btts)
    Croatia (btts)

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