World Cup 2018 quarter-finals: match dates, teams and predictions for the semi-finalsadmin
After England’s historic penalty shootout victory on Tuesday evening, the World Cup quarter-final lineup is complete. It is, perhaps, the most intriguing tournament of recent times, with many of the favourites already out of contention.
Holders Germany were squeezed out in the group stages, while 2010 winners Spain, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and European champions Portugal were all eliminated in the last-16.
Russia, the unfancied hosts, saw off the Spanish side on penalties, while France came out on top in a seven-goal thriller with Argentina. Uruguay, inspired by Edinson Cavani, clinched victory against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Belgium won a thrilling contest with Japan thanks to a last-gasp Nacer Chadli goal, with Croatia overcoming Denmark in a penalty shootout victory of their own. Shortly before England’s win against Colombia, Sweden overcame Switzerland to book their quarter-final place. Brazil – along with Sweden the only side not to concede in their second round game – eased past Mexico.
Each team’s route from group stage to final is pre-determined, meaning that every nation has known its probable quarter-final opponent since long before a ball was kicked in Russia.
Indeed, England’s decision to rest players during the group stage encounter with Belgium was, in part, influenced by who might await Gareth Southgate’s team in the knockout phases.
Teams that have reached the last 16
- Uruguay (2-1 winners against Portugal)
- France (4-3 winners against Argentina)
- Russia (winners on penalties against Spain after a 1-1 draw)
- Croatia (winners on penalties against Denmark after a 1-1 draw)
- Brazil (2-0 winners against Mexico)
- Belgium (3-2 winners against Japan)
- Sweden (1-0 winners against Switzerland)
- England (winners on penalties against Colombia after a 1-1 draw)
Match dates and Sam Wallace’s predictions
Uruguay vs France – Friday 6 July
The big question for Uruguay is whether they can prevent defence and midfield being isolated with Kylian Mbappe – when his pace becomes decisive. They will believe they can score, but can they stop France as effectively as they have others?
Prediction: France 3-1 Uruguay
Brazil vs Belgium – Friday 6 July
Both sides have looked competent against inferior opposition in the round of 16, but neither have looked the sum of their parts. Belgium should be much harder for Brazil to break down and they should also test them at the back much more than before.
Sweden vs England – Saturday 7 July
The Swedes had 36 per cent possession against Switzerland. They were solid, well-organised, dangerous from set-pieces and took their chance. England need to open them up early and they will have to match them physically. Key man will be Jesse Lingard. Although it is Harry Kane who gets the goals, it is Lingard’s movement that opens up difficult opponents by exploiting the space.
Prediction: England 2-0 Sweden
Russia vs Croatia – Saturday 7 July
Hard to see Russia abandoning the approach that did for Spain. They will concede possession, sit deep and hope Croatia become exhausted trying to break them down. But Spain did not have a playmaker at the peak of his powers like Luka Modric, who has a case for being the best player at the tournament, even taking into account the missed penalty. Always finds a way..
Prediction: Croatia 2-1 Russia
Who could play who in the World Cup semi-finals?
Uruguay/France vs Brazil/Belgium – Tuesday 10 July
Sweden/England vs Russia/Croatia – Wednesday 11 July