Once again the quarter finals did not lets us down with some cracking games and plenty of goals and action, including a nail biting penalty shootout involving the hosts Russia.
2018 World Cup Quarter Final Results and Review
Uruguay 0 France 2
What promised to be a real cracking game was robbed of some of the gloss with Edinson Cavani missing for Uruguay. This made it look a much easier assignment on paper and that is exactly what it turned out to be.
Suarez was too often caught up front as the lone wolf and even though he tried hard, the overall support for the Barcelona frontman was near non existent.
To compound matters, Cristhian Stuani who replaced Cavani was woeful and the stats back up that judgement with just five passes and five touches in the opposition penalty box.
In the end it turned out a comfortable win for Didier Deschamps men and they go into what will now be an intriguing Semi final with neighbour’s Belgium.
Brazil 1 Belgium 2
Although this probably ranked as a shock, it would not have measured too high on the football richter scale. Belgium have been arguably the best team in the tournament and in Eden Hazard they have a truly “World Class” player.
No wonder many clubs are showing interest in the Chelsea man. On the flip side the Brazilian Neymar, whom most of his country’s hopes were pinned on has just not performed in this World Cup and he has looked totally unhappy.
Onto the game itself and Roberto Martinez did his managerial career no harm with a masterclass in tactics. In playing Nacer Chadli (previous goalscoring hero) as a floating left sided player it gave Belgium width when they needed it and defensive solidity when they were on the back foot.
Brazil could not adjust and ultimately paid the price for a poor performance both tactically and in terms of overall work rate.
The plaudits have rung out for the likes of Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne, but big credit has to go to Belgium’s midfield enforcers Fellaini and Witsel who were instrumental in breaking up play and limiting Philiipe Coutinho to no more than a cameo role.
Sweden 0 England 2
Probably the most one sided match at the quarter final stage. England took a bit of time to warm to their task, but after settling in they managed Sweden’s long ball game easily enough.
The midfield duo of Lingard and Alli were very strong and even though he is continuosly criticised publicly, Raheem Sterling was a valuable asset with his running off the last line of defence and this caused the Swede’s problems.
Sterling is a (love/hate) player, but it would not be a surprise to see him put in a couple of match winning performances, first against the Croatians and then in the final against Belgium……..more on that shortly.
Russia 1 Croatia 1 (2-2 After extra time)
With what has already been a breathtaking world cup, this game had everything.
One of the abiding memories will be the Russian Coach running up and down the touchline fervently whipping up the crowd to support his team. The Russians looked down and out after Croatia scored during extra time, but the coaches urging’s and the vociferous support very nearly carried them to victory.
Penalty shoot outs are a horrid way to exit a tournament and unfortunately this was to be the case for the host nation.
They played superbly throughout the tournament but just failed at the last hurdle.
Luka Modric had an outstanding game for Croatia and will be heavily relied upon during the semi final if they are to get past England.
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia – Semi Final Betting Tips and Analysis
France vs Belgium
Tuesday 10th July 2018
It is crunch time in the FIFA 2018 World Cup. What an event it has been in Russia, one that will live long in the memory.
The first semi-final takes place at the Krestovsky Stadium on Tuesday evening, bringing together European neighbours France and Belgium.
Both teams have undoubted match winners, Pogba, Griezmann and Mbappe for France, whilst the Belgians will be looking to Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku to get amongst the goals.
It could however turn into a cagey match with both teams likely to play tight during the first period.
With so much at stake, it is bound to be a cagey affair and the 90 minutes could see a 0-0 or 1-1 scoreline with those results available at 8/1 and 5/1 respectively, which could be a good play.
If you fancy more goals then a good cover bet could be a score draw which can be found at around the 7/2 mark and with the records of both teams in this tournament so far, it is not out of the question for there to be goals, especially if we get an early goal which will make for an open and attacking game.
With Fellaini likely to play to try and counteract his Manchester United team mate Pogba, it might be worth the risk of a small bet on the big Belgian to score at anytime which is available at 5/1 and you can go a step further and back him to score a header at 14/1.
This should be a fascinating encounter and at the bigger price Belgium look outstanding value to progress to the final at a price ranging from 2/1 to 9/4 in 90 minutes or EVS to qualify outright.
Croatia vs England
Wednesday 11th July 2018
This has been a great campaign so far for England and they will fancy their chances of progressing to the final (Is it really 52 years?)
This England side has been well manged by coach Gareth Southgate who still has his own score to settle. This side has a totally different feel to it. More youth and form players than we have seen in past tournaments, and the belief is high amongst the squad
Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic has come out and said that fatigue will not be an issue in the semi final, but you only had to watch the game with Russia to see a number of players were tired and quite a few suffered knocks.
Luka Modric played an outstanding game against Russia but you feel that England’s midfield will not let the Real Madrid playmaker have the luxury of time and space on the ball.
No semi final can be classed as easy but you just have to feel that the Croatians will be running on empty as we enter the last third of the game. Southgate has lots of fresh players to bring on and if England are winning by a couple of goals we could quite easily see Marcus Rashford introduced and see him score a couple of goals, currently priced up at 20/1
Keeping it simple in the betting stakes, England look tremendous value at 11/8 with Croatia available at 5/2
The over/under market could be the way to go here and I would expect to see at leat 3 goals in this game. And over 2.5 goals looks a solid bet at 6/4.
Subasic was awesome for Croatia against Russia after appearing to get injured midway through the second half. Paddy Power are offering 10/1 for the Croatia Goalkeeper to be Man of the Match and that could be a saver bet if the game was tight.
Belgium to qualify at EVS and England to win at 11/8 in 90 minutes looks a solid double and I believe the final will be played out with a host of premier league stars taking part.
Enjoy the semi finals