Moscow: Yesterday England became the last team to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals after a dramatic penalty shootout as favourites Brazil and fancied France trained their sights on their last-eight opponents.
First of all, here is the list of the teams that have made it to last eight:
France, Uruguay, Russia, Croatia, Brazil, Belgium, Sweden, England.
URUGUAY vs FRANCE:
On the first day of the Round of 16, two of biggest superstars of world football bid adieu to the World Cup.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina came up short against an inspired performance from the 19-year-old French superstar Kylian Mbappe and lost 3-2. Messi’s dream of a first World Cup was dashed as Mbappe matched Pele’s feat becoming the first teenager to score at least twice in a World Cup match since Pele scored a brace against Sweden in 1958.
Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, failed to inspire his Portugal to a victory while Edinson Cavani’s brace in his 100th international for Uruguay meant the South American nation cruised through.
It will now be the battle of the heavyweights as France and Uruguay take on each other in a high-profile encounter.
RUSSIA vs CROATIA:
Russia reached their first-ever quarter-final with a stunning victory over 2010 world champions Spain. While Spain looked a shadow of their superior selves, Russia showed grit and fierce will to stun Spain. Even after Spain scored first, Russia equalised with Artem Dzyuba’s penalty, courtesy a handball from Gerard Pique, and thereafter, defended their hearts out to take the match to penalties. While Igor Akinfeev saved two of Spain’s penalties, David de Gea failed to save any as Spain crashed out 4-3 on penalties.
On the day same, Croatia vs Denmark was also one dramatic match. Both the teams scored within the first five minutes of the match but then chose caution over attacking football as the match kept getting stretched. In the last few minutes of the extra time, Croatia got a golden opportunity through a penalty but Kasper Schmeichel made a sensational save against Luka Modric to take the tie to the penalty shootout. Even the shootout was dramatic as both Danijel Subasic and Schmeichel made a couple of saves before Subasic saved Denmark’s last while Ivan Rakitic scored past Schmeichel to send Croatia into quarters.
In Croatia vs Russia quarter-final, the former will surely be favourites but they will be up against a crowd-backed and inspired Russian unit.
BRAZIL vs BELGIUM:
Brazil marched into the quarter-finals with a solid 2-0 victory over unpredictable Mexico. After weathering the Mexican storm for the first half an hour of the game, Brazil came into their own. Willian, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho combined to make numerous forays, scored two goals and defended theirs with much ease.
Belgium had a contrasting game to Brazil’s. Belgium was heavily favoured ahead of the match but Japan matches toes to toes in the entire first half to keep it 0-0. Early in the second half, Japan stunned Belgium by scoring two quick goals but the Red Devils responded admirably come back from behind to equalise and then pull off a last-gasp goal to reach quarters.
Brazil vs Belgium is going to be a mouthwatering clash between two tournament-favourites. Both teams have shown excellent attacking flair but perhaps it will be up to their defence this time to decide the clash.
SWEDEN VS ENGLAND:
Sweden advanced to the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Switzerland in what was a scrappy match overall. For the first time in 24 years, Sweden has reached the last eight, courtesy a 66th minute goal from Emil Forsberg and some excellent saves from Swedish keeper Robin Olsen.
England and Colombia played out a dramatic and heated match as Colombia earned seven yellow cards while also conceding a penalty. In the 54th minute, Carlos Sanchez brought down Harry Kane in the box and the English captain scored from the spot to take his tally in the World Cup to six goals. Right when it looked England were going to the quarters, Yerry Mina rose the highest to head in the equaliser for Colombia in the third minute of the stoppage time. The extra time also failed to yield any result and the match went to the shootouts. While Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford scored the first two penalties for England, Falcao and Cuadrado also scored for Colombia. With Ospina saving Henderson’s penalty, the advantage went to Colombia missed the next penalty to give that advantage away. Then Tripper scored for England but Uribe’s penalty was saved by Pickford. Eric Dier kept his nerves at the end and gave England a 4-3 win on penalties.
England will now meet Sweden. While Colombia’s defence seemed to be a big hurdle for England, Sweden might pose a bigger threat in that discipline.
July 6, 7.30pm: Uruguay vs France
July 6, 11.30pm: Brazil vs Belgium
July 7, 7.30pm: Sweden vs England
July 7, 11.30pm: Russia vs Croatia