Saturday sees the second set of World Cup Quarter Finals as the final four sides from the second half of the draw. The biggest side in the draw are England who are looking strong to make their way to their first final since 1966, but can they overcome Sweden to reach the final four stage? If so, they will be able to make the final as they face the winner of the Russia v Croatia game in a clash of the host nation and one of the sides who have impressed many people in the competition.
We preview these two massive matches in Russia with online sportsbook Intertops.eu to bring you our best World Cup Picks from this 2018 competition.
As the song goes, it does look as if Football is coming home! England have been very un-England-like at this World Cup so far as they managed to avoid an opening day embarrassment at the hands of Tunisia as Harry Kane netted an injury time winner before they put six goals past Panama to record their biggest ever World Cup win. They were then able to rest players against Belgium and although they were beaten they still moved into the last 16 in a comfortable and confident fashion. Many people expected England to suffer defeat at the hands of Colombia in that match and even more so when they conceded in injury time to force extra time and then penalties, but England secured their first ever World Cup shootout win in Moscow to progress and with this shocking record off their backs will this see new England football team be able to take the next step winning their second ever title?
They face the only other side in this half of the draw to ever reach a World Cup Final in this game at the Samara Arena as the Swedes reached the final when they hosted the competition in 1958. They were beaten by a Pelé inspired Brazil on that day and they would love another shot at playing for the most prestigious trophy in world football. They have the advantage of having won the last meeting with England as Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted all four goals and with three clean sheets in four matches in Russia they will be confident. Their only defeat came at the hands of Germany in the group stage with an injury time winner from the side that finished bottom of Group F, but with a fine 3-0 win over Mexico to top the group followed up by a hard fought 1-0 win over Switzerland in the group stage they have bounced back well, so will they be able to end England’s dream?
We expect both of these sides to play defensively and then look to exploit any weaknesses in the defence of the other side. We expect there to be few holes to find from both sides and we can see this being another low scoring game, but if either side is to score enough to progress we see it being England thanks to Harry Kane as the Tottenham striker has already bagged six goals in Russia and we are favouring an English win, as do Intertops.
Not many people expected to see a meeting of Russia and Croatia in the last eight stage of the 2018 World Cup this summer, and even fewer expected it once the host nation were to face Spain the first knockout round. Yet here we are with the chance of another upset as this clash in Sochi sees the first competitive meeting of these two teams in more than a decade. The home and away clashes in qualification for Euro 2008 saw goalless draws between the teams and both of these sides will be desperate to avoid another draw after 120 minutes after surviving the pressure and tension to book their places in the Quarter Finals via penalty shootouts.
Croatia triumphed 3-1 against the Russian side in a 2015 friendly match and they will believe that they can repeat that performance again in this match. They breezed through Group D with nine points as edged past Nigeria and Iceland, but with their 3-0 thumping of Argentina they showed that they had bags of quality. The majority of this came from their midfielders with Luka Modric the star man but, as the last 16 match against Denmark showed when the Real Madrid player had an extra time penalty saved before they went on to triumph in the shootout, the rest of side are deserving of plenty of credit as well. Will their creativity ability and their teamwork see them send the hosts crashing out this weekend
Russia will not be as easy to defeat as the match odds for this game suggest as they managed their match against Spain perfectly. Nobody was expecting much from them in that game as they had put their best performances in against Egypt and Saudi Arabia before losing heavily to Uruguay. Many expected them to be outplayed by another quality side, but by stifling the Spanish creative players and preventing them from creating anything Russia took the match to penalties where they stunned the 2010 World Champions.
In addition to defeating Spain by this method of football, Russia also now know how to thwart Croatia’s creativity in this game and this, coupled with the support of the home fans, could see this match swing in their favour. However, the hosts of this competition were hanging on at the end of 90 minutes against Spain and struggled through extra time so this, along with Croatia showing much more attacking threat than Spain in this competition, could certainly cause problems for the home side.
We agree with Intertops in favouring Croatia to win this match, but we have a feeling that Russia will be able to push them all the way after their perfectly executed plan against Spain and we would not be surprised to see them progress. We expect a close and entertaining match with goals coming from both these teams as they battle to progress to the final four stage.