With Tuesday’s match between Columbia and England, this year’s FIFA World Cup is another step closer to the July 15th final, with the quarterfinals set to begin on Friday the 6th. Eight teams are set to face each other during a two day period, where four matches will decide the last four contenders to the title.
On Friday, Uruguay will face the French favorites, whose roster has smiled during and after every of their matchups. Both teams were responsible for ending the World Cup dreams of the sides of the two best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Now they will have to display the same cold-bloodedness to secure their spot in the semifinals.
Even after suffering a calf swelling against Portugal, Uruguayan Edinson Cavani is hopeful to play against the Gallic Roosters to end their comfortable run. Alongside him, Luis Suarez looks forward to breaking the defensive wall of center backs Raphaël Varane and Samuel Umtiti, in order for him to make his mark in this World Cup. On the opposite end, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé are set on not only taking a step closer to the final, but to also invest efforts in goal-scoring to be within the range of a Golden Boot award.
Four hours later, Brazil faces Belgium, hoping to fry Eden Hazard’s side for a chance to make it further than their 2014 run of the semifinals. While the five-time champions breezed through the Mexican side in the Round of 16, the Belgians had to complete a difficult comeback against the Japanese. A four-goal tie was resolved in the 94th minute through an almost heroic finish by winger Naser Chadli. Although the odds are on their side, Neymar and co. should be careful against the much smaller country, whose talents encompass the most demanding football leagues of Europe.
24 hours later, on the other side of the bracket, the Russian hosts dream of bringing the Croatian selection to its knees…or at least force a penalty shootout. In the Round of 16, they were able to shock the football world with an unpredictable upset against the supposedly stronger side of Spain. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will rely on his reflexes against the Croats, as they did not disappoint in front of the disarmed Spanish penalty shooters. Although the Balkan side is expected to dominate, they will need to anticipate any surprises.
Now a tradition of this World Cup, England will be present in another stage end, this time in their matchup against Sweden. The latter showed great desire and determination to not be sent home early when put under great pressure by the Swiss. The defensive line of the Nordics refused any grating attempts in the Round of 16. The English, now having broken against the Colombians a decade-long streak of losses from failed penalty shootouts, will have to find a way of scoring in the Swedish net. The job will most definitely be frustrating to accomplish. Top goal-scorer and English captain Harry Kane will have to exhibit royal patience in order for him chalk more goals on the scoreboard.
The quarterfinals of this World Cup promise for exciting matchups that will definitely please with each team’s aspirations for success. The world will watch as an additional four teams are shed from the most watched competition, to then witness the best four of current football exploit all of their skills for the common goal of carrying the champion’s glory.
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