It’s time for the semi-finals folks and we’re set for two more exciting games featuring top-draw teams before we head into the final
France will meet Belgium, in what will be another World-Cup-Final-come-early tie and England will take on Croatia, where the Three Lions have a legitimate chance of making history. Here’s a look at how the teams form up for the semi-finals:
France vs Belgium
These two teams did well in their separate quarter-final matches, overcoming opposition who had good defensive records. And with that, we’d probably see France and Belgium line up the same way they did when they defeated Uruguay and Brazil respectively. Deschamps will surely play with a 4-5-1 configuration as Giroud takes on the lone striker role. The Chelsea forward hasn’t been very effective in terms of goals, but he will be tasked to win the ball in the final third and distribute to his teammates. Griezmann will again be a key man for the French and we’ll probably see Mbappe make a bigger impact this time around. Belgium on the other hand, should still be employing their counter-attack strategies that have helped them reach the semi-finals in style. De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku will be expected to start. You can count on these men to cause problems for the French defence and score a couple of goals between them. And with Courtois on a good run of form, France will have difficulty finding the net.
Prediction: France 0-2 Belgium
Croatia vs England
Besides Belgium in the Group Stages, this will be the toughest test for the Three Lions of the 2018 World Cup thus far. Croatia have proven to be the real dark horses in this year’s tournament by not only mauling Argentina in the early days, but being the second team to win two penalty shootouts at a single World Cup tournament. This means that Southgate will have to do whatever it takes to avoid the shootout at the semi-finals because the Croats have Subasic and a host of players who will not have the spot-kick jitters. England’s young midfield will be pushed to their limits as they tussle with the likes of Rakitic and Modric. And since they’ll probably maintain a 3-5-2 configuration, Young and Trippier will have to help close down the experienced Croatians in the middle of the park. Mandzukic, albeit a great striker, will have a tough time jostling for position against Maguire and Stones. Pickford kept his first clean sheet against Sweden and surely he’ll be aiming for another. Croatia’s hope for goals will probably come in the form of a set-piece header from Vida or Lovren, or a super-shot from Modric.
Prediction: Croatia 1-2 England