FIFA World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi's attempt at redemption, France vs Peru and other things to watch on Day 8

Portugal fans were in for a treat on Wednesday when Cristiano Ronaldo extended his lead in the Golden Boot race by netting his fourth goal of the tournament during his side's match against Morocco, the final game on Day 7.

Thursday will witness his arch-rival and Argentina talisman Lionel Messi gear up to bounce back from a tepid opening match display as the La Albiceleste take on Croatia in their second game of the tournament. Besides Argentina, Denmark look to continue their winning ways when they take on Australia, while France take on Peru in the second game of the day.

Here's a look at what you can expect on 21 June, Match Day 8:

Lionel Messi didn't quite have the best of outing against Iceland, having missed a penalty in the opening game. AFP

Lionel Messi didn't quite have the best of outing against Iceland, having missed a penalty in the opening game. AFP

Denmark vs Australia

Far from being discouraged about a heartbreaking loss to France in tournament opener, Australia are confident going into another tough World Cup match against Denmark.

The plucky underdog label seems to inspire the Socceroos.

Denmark, returning to the World Cup after missing out on Brazil, are coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday in Saransk. Yuffus Poulsen, who plays for Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, scored the lone goal.

The opening match victory over Peru did have a cost: Starting midfielder William Kvist fractured two ribs and is likely to miss the rest of the tournament. Kvist was injured in a hard collision with Peru's Jefferson Farfan.

France vs Peru

The pre-tournament favorites at this World Cup have struggled so far. France is no exception — but at least they have a win.

The Les Bleus, who are seventh in the FIFA world rankings, got past Australia 2-1 in their opener despite a mostly lacklustre effort from their trio of elite strikers.

France were one of only two teams ranked in FIFA's top seven to win its opening match. The other was Belgium.

A win on Thursday night against Peru at Yekaterinburg Arena would put France in position to wrap up a second consecutive appearance in the Round of 16.

The Peruvians held a 17-10 advantage in shots on goal but failed to capitalise on their chances during a 1-0 loss to Denmark. Peru's task could be even harder against Group C favorites France, whom they will be facing for the first time in World Cup play.

The only previous meeting between the teams was a 1982 friendly that Peru won 1-0.

Argentina vs Croatia

Lionel Messi is going to have a hard time keeping up with Cristiano Ronaldo at this year's World Cup.

The Argentina great had a penalty kick saved during his team's tournament-opening 1-1 draw with Iceland. At 31, this could be Messi's last World Cup, and Thursday's match against Croatia is crucial as the longtime Barcelona forward tries to deliver his first major title for Argentina.

Messi's biggest rival, Ronaldo, seems less burdened during what could also be his final World Cup run.

Croatia lead Group D after their 2-0 win over Nigeria, and another victory would put Argentina in a precarious position. Veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic shined in the opener, with Modric scoring one goal and setting up another.

Croatia haven't advanced past the group stage since 1998, and this could be the last chance for Modric, Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, all of whom are over 30.

Another veteran provided a bit of drama for Croatia. Coach Zlatko Dalic sent home Nikola Kalinic because the striker wouldn't come off the bench as a substitute. The team will continue with 22 players.

With inputs from AP

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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 11:26 AM

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