So many crazy rounds so far in this World Cup and then the quarter finals go to script, bloody Sweden. All four teams are only one game away from making history, as two of the best teams take on each other in one of the semis and in the other semi there are two teams who most probably didn’t see getting this far.
France v Belgium
France were very professional against Uruguay, although highly fortunate with the second goal I don’t think Uruguay can complain. It was nice of France to not go out in the quarters to make my tips for the tournament go 3/3 for going out as soon as I tipped them (the curse has been lifted!), I even went 4/4 this round of games, which ain’t half bad.
Belgium were supposed underdogs against Brazil, however if you take the name away then I don’t think anyone would expect that Brazil team to beat this Belgian side. Belgium completely out tacticed Brazil, roughing them up and making it difficult for Brazil to have any play in the final third. Pushing De Bruyne further forward, moving Lukaku onto the right and bringing an extra body in the midfield made all the difference. Brazil looked weak defensively and didn’t have anything going forward, if Neymar wasn’t doing anything then nobody was. Neymar himself managed to embarrass himself with his pathetic play acting and shit diving. I find it odd that people seem to think he’s the third best player in the world because he’s a whiny little bitch and doesn’t produce at a high enough or consistent enough level.
France Belgium is looking like the best match up of the entire tournament, the de facto final if you will. Regardless of the winner of this match, whoever progresses will go on to win the final. The gulf in class between these two teams and the other two teams is night and day, it’s a shame this isn’t the actual final.
It’s a really tough one to call, I feel France are the better side overall and I would be concerned about Belgium’s defending against quality attackers, so I can’t see France not scoring. France are also susceptible in defence as Argentina showed and in all likelihood France will have control of the ball, something which plays directly into Belgium’s hands. You know how France will play, however Belgium could play in numerous different styles. It’s a really interesting game. I think France will win, however if France aren’t leading after 70 minutes or worse if they’re behind, I don’t think Deschamps is a good enough manager to change a match when the team is under pressure and ultimately it may come down to that. France should win, however Belgium are too good to take for granted, if France are nervous or don’t show up then Belgium could easily take advantage, they’re the underdogs and will revel in it.
Croatia v England
Croatia snuck through against Russia in their second penalty shoot out in a row. Russia aren’t a good team but the crowd was amazing and Croatia once again looked sluggish. I think it’s fair to say that Croatia were the better side and deserved to go through but my god do Croatia struggle against teams who are ultra defensive. The concern for Croatia going into the semi is that the players will be gassed after having only four days between games and not having enough time to recover.
England went through their quarter final which was a bit of a non event. England weren’t great but Sweden were absolutely non existent, looked like the moment was all too big for them. England are definitely the surprise package of the semis, they aren’t a particularly good side (one world class player) but they’ve managed to sneak into the semis without actually playing anyone (only half decent side they played was Colombia and they scraped through like nobodies business), quite remarkable really.
The game itself should be interesting because neither team has really played a quality side yet (Croatia won’t meet one till the final), so it will be interesting to see where both teams are. Croatia must be running on fumes, they have come out of a gruelling match against Russia with very little time to recover, England on the other hand had a walkover against Sweden. Croatia will control the possession and will find more space against England than they have in their previous two games and that will be vital. The one area which England will dominate is at set pieces, something they have been incredibly powerful on in this competition. England haven’t played a team who can outplay them yet (Belgium doesn’t count) so their shaky defence will be up against it as will their central midfield which is weak and overly attacking. It’s an interesting game, I think Croatia are the better side and should win, however they’ve had the harder route to this stage and England are more than capable on the crest of a wave.
So I have the final being France v Croatia, however both ties are really close and should make for two really tight games. It’s for a chance to play in the biggest game in sport, a chance to become heroes and legends and I think we can all agree that the one thing we really don’t want to see is England win it!
So what did you think of the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup? Are you looking forward to the semis? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts.