On Tuesday and Wednesday, four international teams will battle it out to rule the world. It’s moments like this that separate the good from the great. There will no doubt be nerves from spectators, and that will manifest it’s way right down through to the players and managers but this is a glorious moment to create history, become legends for a lifetime and reach the final held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15th.
Croatia v England
Goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli in each half gave Gareth Southgate’s troops a 2-0 win over Sweden in the quarter-final, which booked England’s place in the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Meanwhile, Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic saw his side beat Russia in a dramatic penalty shoot-out and will appear in only their second World Cup semi-final.
Croatia will surely prove a sterner test for England, although their standards have slightly dropped following a couple of drab performances in two of their last knockout matches. England’s defence will have to be at their best to limit the influence of midfield maestros Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
However, with Harry Kane leading the line, England possess a man who is obsessed with scoring goals. He is currently leading top scorer with 6 goals. Only Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku, who remains two behind him, will realistically be able to catch him, and that is entirely depending on if his team can dispatch France in the other semi-final clash.
This match is very close to call but I believe the momentum is firmly with the Three Lions, and that could ultimately be the difference.
It’s coming home!!!
Prediction: Croatia 1-2 England
France v Belgium
France manager Didier Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches up front, with Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Lemar, Oliver Giroud and in particular, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who was the star of the show with two goals against Argentina in the round of 16 in a thrilling 4-3 win.
Les Bleus’ last encounter against Uruguay in the quarter-final was far less dramatic though, and they had to dig deep. Questions were raised about their performances in the group stages. They were unimpressive in their group games against Denmark, Peru and Australia but slowly, they have improved and will be very difficult opposition.
Belgium are another side filled with world-class talent, not only offensively but also in defence. The Belgians have a raft of Premier League class, with Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and captain Vincent Kompany. The list could go on and on.
Their quarter-final win over Brazil, who were the World Cup favourites before a ball was kicked, was perhaps the most eye-opening result of the tournament. The Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez set up his tactics perfectly.
Confidence will be running high in both camps and this is another tough game to predict, with both teams on paper looking evenly matched but I predict Belgium to triumph and reach their first ever World Cup final.
Prediction: France 1-2 Belgium