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Schmeichel, Poulsen at center of Denmark 1-0 Peru

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  • Denmark goal: Poulsen (59′)
  • Peru misses penalty
  • Next: Denmark-Australia, Peru-France

Yussuf Yurary Poulsen scored a second half goal and Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel made several critical saves as Denmark smashed and grabbed a 1-0 World Cup win in Saransk on Saturday.

Peru found seemingly every manner of way to miss the goal in a dominant performance.

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Both teams played with an adrenalized tempo in the first 10 minutes, with Yoshimar Yotun whipping a shot to Kasper Schmeichel in the eighth.

Peru was all over Denmark as the match moved on, with Schmeichel very active against Los Incos.

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer made a terrific block on Andre Carrillo in the 29th minute to keep it scoreless.

Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made a terrific stop on Jens Stryger Larsen after Christian Eriksen‘s free kick was blocked by the wall.

The CONMEBOL side was given a penalty kick upon Video Assistant Referee review after Christian Cueva saw his ankle caught by Yussuf Poulsen.

But Cueva made a stuttering, disjointed run-up before blazing his effort over the bar.

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Peru bungled chance to take a 57th lead when Cueva cut a rug through the 18 and laid off for Carrillo, whose shot wasn’t good enough to trouble the net.

They’d regret the miss, as RB Leipzig striker Poulsen raced down the left wing and into the box to carve a shot around Gallese.

Peru nearly equalized off the restart, but Schmeichel made an outstanding save. And Jefferson Farfan couldn’t get on the end of a terrific free kick headed back across the Denmark defense in the 69th.

Poulsen was a defensive hero two minutes later, nodding a cross out of play with Paolo Guerrero lurking at the back post. And Schmeichel stopped Luis Advincula a minute after that.

Guerrero nearly spun a backheel effort inside the far post in the 79th. Peru deserved an equalizer, but would it find one. Schmeichel denied Farfan again in the 84th.

A mostly quiet Eriksen was stymied by Gallese soon after the Schmeichel stop. We say mostly…

LIVE: World Cup, Day 3 — Four matches include Messi debut

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Get planning for Day 3 of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with four games on the docket!

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Lionel Messi will make his 2018 World Cup debut on the heels of old pal Cristiano Ronaldo’s Friday hat trick against Spain.

And tournament favorites France also take their first strides in Russia with a match against Australia.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 16

Group C
France v Australia: Kazan, 6 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Peru v Denmark: Saransk, Noon ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina v Iceland: Moscow, 9 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Croatia v Nigeria: Kaliningrad, 3 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

World Cup, Group C preview: France, Australia, Denmark, Peru

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France: Following a slim quarterfinal loss to Germany in the 2014 tournament, France looks to take the next step behind one of the deepest squads in the world. Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba are among those pushing the attack while N'Golo Kante helps anything coming back the other way. Favorites to win the group comfortably, and perhaps the World Cup as well. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Australia: Solid in midfield with Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak and dangerous enough in attack, can the Socceroos limit the danger coming the way of star keeper Mat Ryan of Brighton and Hove Albion? If they do, perhaps a surprising run to second is possible. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Peru: Their captain’s suspension overturned, one of the most anonymous Top Ten teams in recent memory (Elo Ratings) looks to make a major statement in its first World Cup since the 1970s. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Denmark: Christian Eriksen is the unquestioned focal point of the Danish team, and will enter the tournament with hopes of results against Peru and Australia which deem the finale versus France dead rubber. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


Who’s going through: France and Peru.

 [ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Who’s going home: Denmark and Australia.

Marquee match: France versus Peru, June 21 in Yekaterinburg

Top 5 players to watch
1) N’Golo Kante — France
2) Antoine Griezmann — France
3) Paul Pogba — France
4) Christian Eriksen — Denmark
5) Samuel Umtiti — France

2018 World Cup dark horses

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Every World Cup has its underdog story. Every World Cup has its rise to glory. Every World Cup has its rags to riches.

Every World Cup has its dark horse.

So who will grace Russia 2018 with a surprise run? Let’s look at the dark horse contenders.

Egypt

Looking solely at the FIFA rankings, Egypt at #45 appears to be perfect dark horse material. Unfortunately, they don’t perfectly fit the mold.

For starters, they have one of the world’s most in-form players in Mohamed Salah. Because we can’t ever have nice things, he was injured in the Champions League final, but his diagnosis of a separated AC joint likely leaves him available to play in the tournament this summer, albeit at less than 100% as he manages a painful injury. Nevertheless, with Salah on the field, Egypt is particularly dangerous on the counter and could light up any defensive back lines not on their A-game. Without him, though, they are toothless as evident by their inability to score in either friendly this past week against Colombia and Belgium.

In addition, their group is so bad that Egypt is almost expected to make it to the knockout stages. Paired with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay, it would feel disappointing if the African nation didn’t find one of the top two spots. Still, despite falling face-first into pre-tournament expectations, it would still make a great story if Egypt made its first-ever knockout round (since group stage play began in 1950). In fact, Egypt has never won a World Cup match in its history, with two losses and two draws to fall back on.

Morocco

Another overlooked African nation, Morocco finds itself tasked with the opposite issue Egypt faces – they were handed a painfully difficult draw with both Spain and Portugal to navigate through in Group B.

Nevertheless, Morocco should provide the European powerhouses with a stiff test in the group stage. FiveThirtyEight has Morocco ranked 18th in the world, the highest African side in the tournament and higher than other darkhorse candidates like Iceland or Peru. A team that features a high press run-and-gun style of play, Morocco has its Salah-lite in 25-year-old Hakim Ziyech.

Ziyech will give Spain and Portugal back lines plenty to think about as he marauds around the attacking third, but Morocco will need him to reign in the shooting to have a chance against the European giants. As FiveThirtyEight points out, Ziyech’s 202 shot attempts over the past two seasons see him sit nearly fifty shots higher than anyone else in the top five European leagues or the Eredivisie where he plays. His nine goals and 17 assists last season for Ajax are a nice haul and his creativity is invaluable to his country, but wastefulness will prove deadly against Spain or Portugal who are sure to control a heavy percentage of possession.

Peru

Paolo Guerrero is back to business for Peru, a massive boost to the squad (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images).

Paolo Guerrero can play in the World Cup this summer, and that’s all Peruvian fans need to hear to know their team has a chance. The 34-year-old captain is critical to his team’s chances, and after his one-year ban for cocaine use was overturned, Guerrero will be available to lead the attacking front in Peru’s Group C chances. With up-and-coming talent Edinson Flores feeding the captain chances, FIFA’s 11th-ranked country is a dangerous attacking side.

Given a favorable draw, Peru will more than challenge Australia and Denmark for a spot in the knockout stages behind likely group winners France. What makes Peru even more enticing in this World Cup is a potential Round of 16 matchup with fellow CONMEBOL members Argentina, a team they held to a draw in both meetings during World Cup qualifying. Peru has been in the wars, with an experienced side that played out a thrilling 1-1 draw with Colombia on the final day of CONMEBOL qualifying to earn a spot in this summer’s tournament.

The crux of Peru’s knockout stage chances likely hinge on a defense in its prime. 34-year-old Alberto Rodriguez is the grizzled veteran of the group, but alongside him are 28-year-old full-back Luis Advincula and 29-year-old full-back Nilson Loyola, both of whom own over 60 caps each.

Iceland

What would a darkhorse post be without Iceland? This tiny European nation shocked the world with its guts and swagger during a run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals. The Boys followed that up by topping its UEFA World Cup qualifying group with seven wins in 10 matches.

Again, they have a chance to make history with Group D up for grabs behind Argentina. They will do battle with Croatia and Nigeria, two beatable opponents. They know Croatia well, having faced them twice during UEFA qualifying play in Group I, splitting the pair.

Despite the highs of the last two years, Iceland comes into Russia 2018 in terrible form. They have not won since topping Indonesia in January, a run of four matches with three defeats. Most recently, they crumbled in the 87th minute allowing Ghana to snatch a late 2-2 draw after leading 2-0. Their superstar Gylfi Sigurdsson is also in awful form, coming off a season at Everton that saw him grab just four goals and three assists before missing the final six weeks with a knee injury. Iceland has the mental fortitude to progress past the group stage, but the magic may be running out.

England

Can England win the 2018 World Cup? They still have to prove they are among the world’s elite (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images).

Yep, a curveball to finish this list out. Unlike the previous for teams who all look to be dark horses to make noise by unexpectedly escaping the group stages, England is a dark horse to win the whole darn tournament. Sure they‘re generally considered good by most, but still outside the upper echelon of favorites like Brazil, Germany, and the like, you better put the jokes aside and begin realizing the truth: this England team isn’t just good, they’re great.

England hasn’t lost at all since a run of bad friendlies in late 2017, and they haven’t dropped a single competitive match since its stunning 2-1 loss to white-hot Iceland in Euro 2016. They’ve also looked great in their tournament run-up, beating the Netherlands, Nigeria, and Costa Rica while slumping to a 1-1 draw with Italy on a late Lorenzo Insigne penalty.

The biggest question-mark for England is in net, but if Jordan Pickford can effectively replace Joe Hart in goal, this team could challenge for a semi-final spot, or even more. Raheem Sterling lit up the Premier League last season and has grown leaps and bounds under Pep Guardiola, as has John Stones at the back. Marcus Rashford looks refreshed out of the Jose Mourinho shadow. Harry Kane is among the most in-form strikers in this tournament and has seen his future put to rest with a new contract, leaving one more potential distraction back home.

They’re not there yet, and there are plenty of critics, but a chip on their shoulder might be just what this group needs. If England can put block out the noise surrounding the disappointments of recent World Cups, teams like Spain, Argentina, and the rest of the world giants should take note sooner rather than later.

2018 World Cup team preview: Peru

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Getting to know Peru: Ranked higher than England, Italy, Mexico, and Croatia, the world’s No. 11 ranked team via FIFA’s metric has had a wild ride to Russia even after qualifying through CONMEBOL, as due to the saga of its captain — more on that later — Peru’s stayed in the news.

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This is Peru’s first World Cup since 1982, and just its fifth time in the tournament. Peru has finished third in two of the last three Copa America tournaments.

For more history on Peru, click here.

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What group are they in? C


Game schedule – Group C – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Saturday, June 16: Peru v Denmark,  Saransk Noon ET
Thursday, June 21: France v Peru, Ekaterinburg 11 a.m. ET
Tuesday, June 26: Australia v Peru, Sochi 10 a.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Gallese —–

— Advincula — Santamaria — Ramos — Trauco

—- Tapio —- Yotun —-

—- Carrillo —- Cueva —- Flores —-

—- Guerrero —-


Star player: Paolo Guerrero – There was no international rust for the captain after his suspension for doping was put on hold, as Guerrero scored a pair of goals against Saudi Arabia. Guerrero tested positive for cocaine, something he claimed came from tainted tea, and even saw his suspension protested by captains of the other nations in his World Cup group. The 34-year-old former Bayern Munich and Hamburg striker plays in Brazil, and has 34 goals in his 14-year international career (87 caps).


Manager: Ricardo Gareca – The well-traveled 60-year-old is in his first international club, but far from his first steps as a manager. He’s had the most success with Velez Sarsfield in his native Argentina.


Secret weapon: Christian Cueva — The attacking midfielder for Sao Paolo scored four times in qualifying, including an equalizer agains Argentina.


Prediction: Anything could happen in this group, but we think Peru sneaks out with a win over Australia and a draw with Denmark.