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World Cup: World Cup: Saturday’s matchups

GROUP C

FRANCE VS. AUSTRALIA

Where: Kazan

Time: 3 a.m. PDT.

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TV: FS1, Telemundo

The buzz: The last time these teams met, both were tuning up for the 2014 World Cup and France routed the Socceroos, 6-0, costing coach Holger Osieck his job. Australia hasn’t improved much since. France, a tournament favorite, features an attack that includes Paul Pogba, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann. Keeper Hugo Lloris anchors the defense.

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PERU VS. DENMARK

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Where: Saransk

Time: 9 a.m. PDT

TV: FS1, Telemundo

The buzz: Peru returns to the World Cup for the first time since 1982 and it comes in hot, having gone 16 months since its last loss. Forward Paolo Guerrero had his drug suspension lifted two weeks ago, so the South Americans are also at full strength. Denmark’s hopes ride largely on Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen and Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

GROUP D

ARGENTINA VS. ICELAND

Where: Moscow

Time: 6 a.m. PDT

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TV: Fox, Telemundo

The buzz: This is a David versus Goliath matchup. Argentina and Lionel Messi, World Cup finalists four years ago, meet tournament debutante Iceland, the smallest nation ever to qualify for the event. Iceland isn’t a team to be overlooked — it made the quarterfinals in its first European Championship two years ago — but the pressure here is clearly on Argentina and Messi, who needs a title to cement his legacy as one of the best players of all time.

FBL-WC-2018-CRO-TRAINING
Croatia’s Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and forward Mario Mandzukic are part of formidable midfield.
(Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images )

CROATIA VS. NIGERIA

Where: Kaliningrad

Time: noon PDT

TV: FS1, Telemundo

The buzz: Croatia is one of the best teams in the tournament, although one few people are playing attention to. With a lineup that features Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic, it can score in bunches, and after conceding just five goals in 12 games in UEFA qualifying, the defense looks stingy. Nigeria has a number of physically gifted players in Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho, but the Super Eagles are searching for a reliable keeper and there are concerns about the defense.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11


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