Jack87 news today, asianbookie A repeat of the 1978 final between the Netherlands and Argentina, as I predicted in my group. England and Brazil also reached the quarter-finals with relative ease. However, the rest of my pre-tournament picks didn’t fare well – Denmark, Belgium and Serbia didn’t even make it out of their respective groups.
Here’s my take on the quarterfinals:
Croatia 1-1 Brazil (Croatia 4-2 on penalties)
Croatia managed to pull it off despite having only one shot on target throughout the game – Bruno Petkovic’s 117th-minute equaliser. Vatreni then won another penalty shootout.
The contrast in mentality between the two teams couldn’t be more stark: Croatia showed grit, courage and composure under pressure, while Brazil was the exact opposite.
Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (Argentina won 4-3 on penalties)
Despite a two-goal lead after 82 minutes, the Argentines barely held on after Lautaro Martinez scored the decisive penalty to send them into the semi-finals.
The words “competitive” don’t do it justice – 17 yellow cards and one red were sent off. Argentina now have the chance to avenge their loss to Croatia in the Russia group stage four years ago.
Morocco 1-0 Portugal
Morocco continued their remarkable run of underdogs with perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Youssef En-Nesyri’s header made Morocco the first African side in World Cup history to reach the semi-finals. Portugal could have equalized in stoppage time, but Pepe’s header went wide.
England 1-2 France
In the latest installment of the legendary showdown, the Blues took the lead thanks to an Olivier Giroud header. Harry Kane could have leveled for England in the 83rd minute, but his penalty attempt ended up not even coming close.
If they beat Morocco in the semi-finals, the French team will become the seventh team in World Cup history to reach the World Cup finals in a row.
Most underrated team: Australia
The Socceroos finished second in a tough Group C that included France, Denmark and Tunisia. Furthermore, they are only behind France on goal difference.
Australia then followed closely to close Argentina in the round of 16, almost causing a huge upset. Yet, despite all this, Australia doesn’t seem to be getting the credit they deserve from the media and fans at large.
Biggest meta-game shift: Three guards
More teams than ever have opted for a back three at this World Cup. This represents a natural progression of metagames over the past 5-10 years.
In recent years, full-backs have played farther than ever before, similar to the classic winger. At the same time, the actual wingers started playing more centrally, while the defensive midfielders stepped back further out.
This resulted in the then dominant 4-2-3-1 formation being functionally similar to a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 – both of which appeared more this time around.
Worst chance: Belgium boda8
Germany, Uruguay, Spain and many other teams were eliminated early. However, the team that regrets missing out the most is Belgium.
Belgium were eliminated in the group stage behind Morocco and Croatia. Both teams have reached the semi-finals since then. Considering this fact, and the fact that Belgium have been favorites at the start of the tournament, it is no exaggeration to say that if they emerge from Group F, Belgium will likely go on to win the title.
my semi-final predictions
argentina v croatia
After two penalty shootouts, Croatia will certainly have a chance against Argentina.
For their part, the Albiceleste didn’t go all out. Argentina were ‘closed’ after leading 2-0 in the round of 16 against Australia and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and could easily have lost either game.
That being said, they should be able to take it as Argentina have an abundance of match-winning talent.
france v morocco
With an impressive semi-final performance, France completely eliminated the boda8 malaysia “curse of defending champions”.
For Morocco, despite their once-remarkable story, this is almost certainly where their Cinderella journey ended. Not only are the Atlas Lions at a disadvantage in every way, but injuries are starting to take their toll on the team.
France should have no trouble winning the title and reaching their second consecutive World Cup final.