World Cup Recap – Last 16 Matches Pt.24th Jul 2018 |
Wow. What a couple of days it’s been as the last 16 matches came to a close and we now know who’s going toe to toe in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals.
But, before we relish the upcoming action in Russia on Friday and Saturday, let’s have a quick look back over the final bunch of last 16 matches…
Neymar Rolls On
Some classy moments from Brazil saw them overcome a disciplined Mexico side to book their place in the quarterfinals.
Mexico was the dominant force early on but Brazil took the lead through Neymar in the 51st minute after he was involved in some clever build-up play. Neymar featured again late on as he laid the ball off towards the fresh legs of Roberto Firmino to make it 2-0 and confirm a solid win for Brazil.
It wasn’t all positive reaction for Brazil however as many pundits are becoming tired of the play acting which comes alongside every Neymar performance. Let’s just hope he’ll let the football do the talking against Belgium.
Brazil has now scored a total of 228 goals at the World Cup over the years, meaning they overtake Germany as the tournament’s all-time top scorers. Mexico’s defeat also makes it 32 years since they have progressed past the last 16, their one expedition into the quarterfinals coming in 1986.
Gutsy Belgium Comeback
Belgium pulled off an epic comeback to knock Japan out of the 2018 World Cup with just seconds of stoppage time remaining.
It was Japan who looked the more impressive side for large swathes of the game as Belgium struggled to produce any decent attempts on goal. The Japs looked good for the win after scoring twice within 4 minutes to stun Belgium and take control of the game.
In desperate need of some inspiration, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez brought on Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli in the 65th minute which made an instant impact. Fellaini scored the equaliser before Chadli netted a stunning 94th-minute winner to send Japan packing.
Belgium had to dig deep for the win and many now think they have the grit and determination to make it through to the final. One thing is for certain, Friday night’s clash with Brazil should be one hell of a match.
Swedes Make the Swiss Roll
It was Sweden who came out on top in a compelling but often scrappy tie between the two European teams. The only goal of the match came from an unfortunate deflection, as the ball flew off the foot of the luckless Manuel Akanji and left Yann Sommer stranded in the Swiss goal.
The 66th-minute goal was credited to Emil Forsberg and the Swedes nearly added another deep into stoppage time when an awarded penalty was downgraded to a free kick on the edge of the box.
The only downside for the Swedish was Celtic’s Mikael Lustig picking up a yellow card in the first half. He’ll now miss out on the quarter-final clash with England, most likely being replaced by Emil Krafth.
The 1-0 victory continues a run from a Swedish team who were hugely underestimated coming into the tournament. This is the first time they have reached the last eight since 1994, achieving it by beating a team ranked 18 places above them. That takes big meatballs!
England Banish the Penalty Ghosts
It was looking like a similar affair to the days earlier game, a gritty and chaotic clash decided on a single goal. England were 1-0 up thanks to a Harry Kane penalty, his 6th goal of the tournament, coming in the 57th minute.
It all went the way of the pear deep in stoppage time when Colombia’s Yerry Mina equalised to send the massed ranks of Colombia fans wild inside the Spartak Stadium. Extra time was played out with a few chances but no further goals, meaning that penalties were to decide it.
England’s terrible World Cup shootout record was at the forefront of every fans mind as the players took the long walk from the center circle one at a time. However, it was to be England’s night, just for a nice change, as Jordan Pickford saved one and Eric Dier buried him to power the 3 Lions into the last 8.
It will be England’s first quarterfinal match since 2006 after their first ever win on penalties at a World Cup finals. It sets up a tasty clash with the organised and defensive Swedes on Saturday afternoon for a spot in the semis with many starting to truly believe that It’s Coming Home!
Who will get a Semi spot?
Friday 6th July
15:00 BST – Uruguay v France – Can Les Blues overcome Suarez and co?
19:00 BST – Brazil v Belgium – South American flair vs European tactics. Bring it on!
Saturday 7th July
15:00 BST – Sweden v England – Can the 3 Lions roar past the stubborn Swedes?
19:00 BST – Russia v Croatia – Will the host nation continue their surprising march towards the final?
Who will progress? You call it with Lenny. Click the matches to check out the latest World Cup odds and offers.