The second half of the quarter-finals are set and while England are on greener pastures towards the semis, we will be in for a treat with goliaths Brazil and Belgium meet, in what will be a clash of the titans.
Goals will be limited here, but the teams with better defensive tactics will prevail. Here’s a look at the final two quarter-final ties:
Brazil vs Belgium
This is a World Cup final tie come early. These two sides have what it takes to be the 2018 world champions, but unfortunately only one will survive. Brazil knocked off a strong Mexican side in emphatic fashion as they displayed their attacking prowess lead by Neymar and Willian. Belgium would need a stiffer backline and a three-man defence may not suffice. Martinez may need to employ both Kompany and Vermaelen for good measure. However, the Belgians do have a potent attack of their own and with Marcelo still doubtful and Casemiro out due to two yellow cards, we could see more goals than expected. Both goalkeepers haven’t been truly tested and are evidently quite unconvincing in between their respective posts. Goals may be flowing in, but the team that is more focused and makes the least mistakes will set foot into the semi-finals.
Prediction: Brazil 2-3 Belgium
Sweden vs England
The Three Lions will face their toughest test in the knockout stages as they collide with Sweden in the quarter-finals. If they thought Colombia was tough to break down, the Swede back four will be true test for England’s forwards. Andersson’s forces may lack the quality upfront, but lead by Granqvist, their defensive organisation is impeccable with their no-nonsense style of play. Kane will surely be shackled for the entirety of the match and here’s where Lingard, Sterling and Alli must step and round circles around Sweden to find openings. A back-three would suffice for Southgate simply because Berg and Toivonen aren’t the most prolific strikers, and with Pickford on a good run of form, England don’t look like they would be conceding any goals in the first 90 minutes. Expect a cagey first half and a single goal to separate these two sides. England should go through if they don’t slip up at the back.
Prediction: Sweden 0-1 England