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World Cup 2018 quarter-finals preview

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After completion of the Round of 16, the quarter-final matches have been decided. We take a look at all the four matches.

France Vs Uruguay
Uruguay’s last appearance at the quarter-final stage was at South Africa 2010. Their meeting with Ghana will go down as one of the most dramatic games in World Cup history remembered for a Luis Suarez deliberate handball in the 120th minute.

The 1998 winners France will face them in the first quarter-final fixture at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

Didier Deschamps’ side remain one of the favourites to win this year’s world cup. France have scored seven goals so far but will find it difficult to break into a strong Uruguayan defence which has conceded only one goal in the four matches.

A brace form Edinson Cavani against Portugal in the round of 16 secured their spot but the striker may miss out due to an injury and the Uruguayans will need to rely on Suarez’s heroics.

Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso, Benjamin Pavard and Olivier Giroud are in danger of a suspension. If any of them receive a yellow card they will miss the semi-final should their team qualify.

The latest of Uruguay’s three meetings with France at a World Cup took place at South Africa 2010 when both sides played out a goalless draw in Cape Town on 11 June that year.

Head-to-head: Uruguay 2 wins, France 1 win, 4 draws
The winner of Uruguay-France tie will play the winner of Brazil-Belgium in the first semi-final on Tuesday, July 10.

Brazil Vs Belgium
It has been a long time since the teams faced each other. The last meeting was Brazil’s 2-0 World Cup Round of 16 victory in 2002. That was also their only competitive meeting to date. Rivaldo and Ronaldo were the goal scorers.

Five time winners Brazil overcame Mexico in the round of 16 while Belgium overturned a two goal deficit against Japan for both teams to set up a mouthwatering quarter-final.

Neymar, who has produced moments of brilliance, will still be needed to deliver the goods for Brazil with the help of Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Willian while the Belgian Red Devil will need their captain Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku to perform at their best.

If the Red Devils don’t progress past Brazil, some could point to something of a curse for the ‘golden generation’. Belgium were eliminated at the quarter-final stage in the past two tournaments. At Brazil 2014, they lost to Argentina (1-0) and at UEFA EURO 2016 were beaten by Wales (3-1).

Casemiro is suspended for Brazil due to accumulation of yellow cards. Fernandinho is expected to come in for the Real Madrid midfielder.

The two teams will meet at the Kazan Arena and the winner will play either France or Uruguay in the semifinal.
Head-to-head: Brazil 3 wins, Belgium 1 win.

Sweden Vs England
England booked their place in the quarter-finals with a dramatic victory over Colombia on penalty kicks on Tuesday afternoon after a 1-1 draw in fulltime while the Swedes edged past Switzerland with a deflected goal from Emil Forsberg.

The Three Lions won their first ever world cup penalty shootout to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time in 12 years while Sweden qualified for the first time since 1994.

Sweden play as a team while Gareth Southgate’s side will look up to the tournament’s top scorer Harry Kane to deliver the goals.

All of Sweden’s players are based at clubs abroad, while all of Gareth Southgate’s men play their domestic football in England.

Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen has kept three clean sheets in four games so far at Russia 2018 while England has not kept any clean sheet.

Kane is the top scorer with six goals, making him the favourite to end the tournament with the golden boot. Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku trails him on four goals.

The winner will play either Croatia or Russia in the second semifinal on Wednesday, July 11.
The tie will be played in Samara Arena.

Head-to-head: Sweden 7 wins, England 8 wins, 9 draws
Croatia Vs Russia

Both Croatia and Russia qualified for the quarter-finals winning their penalty shootouts over Denmark and Spain respectively. The two sides have never met in the World Cup.

Croatia will rely on their golden talent of Luka Modric, Perisic, Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic while Golovin and Artem Dzyuba will lead Russia’s attack. Mateo Kovacic will not participate for Croatia due to his shoulder injury.

Russia’s captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was the hero in the Round of 16 penalty shoot-out win over Spain while Subasic was the hero for Croatia saving three penalties.

Croatia’s most historical campaign at the world cup was in France 1998 when they finished in third place and their striker Davor Šuker was the top scorer with 6 goals.

Hosts Russia came in the tournament as the lowest ranked team among the 32 countries.

The match will be at Fisht Stadium, Sochi with the winner to play either England or Sweden in the semifinal.
Head-to-head: Croatia 1 win, 2 draws.

World Cup Quarter-finals
Friday, 6 July 2018
France Vs Uruguay, 5pm
Brazil Vs Belgium, 9pm
Saturday, 7 July 2018
Sweden Vs England, 5pm
Russia Vs Croatia, 9pm

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