Things are getting really exciting at Russia, with just eight teams left in the World Cup 2018 quarter-finals. Who will win the Cup?
With most of the teams that were thought to be the strongest out of the picture, the World Cup in Russia has proven to be the most surprising and shocking in the past decades. We only have eight teams left in this fight but just one will get crowned as the best in the world and contrary to past football cups, this time I wouldn’t put my money to a particular team… again. So, those of us who are out, let’s lick our wounds, and do a recap of what happened this week during the Round of 16 phase and where we are standing for the World Cup 2018 quarter-finals stage.
The phase opened last Saturday with probably the best match of the cup so far, France against Argentina. France started dominating the game with one penalty kick on their favor only to be toppled by two goals by Argentina. France wasn’t going to leave things like that and three goals followed, two of them by Kylian Mbappé (someone Uruguay will have to cover quite well if they want a place in the semi-finals). Just to go with more dignity, Argentina scored in the third minute of the compensation time leaving a total score of 4-3 and France moving to the quarter-finals and sending Messi’s team back home.
Later that day, Uruguay faced Portugal in a not that exciting match yet unexpected result. The first half ended with no goals for either of the teams; however, by minute 61 of the second half, Uruguay’s Luis Suárez made one of the best goals of the cup putting his team ahead. Portugal tied the game but less than ten minutes later Cavani scored his second goal sending Portugal and the highly worshiped Cristiano Ronaldo out of the cup. With this, we have what’s expected to be one of the most nerve-racking and at the same time exciting matches of the cup, France with its unstoppable Mbappé versus Uruguay which is having an amazing performance with zero defeats.
Sunday was quite a dramatic and cardiac day for the cup with two matches ending in penalty shoot-outs. The first one and a really expected one, Russia versus Spain was the impersonation of what poetic justice is. Firstly, Spain's Ignashevich scored an own goal, however, not so long afterward center-back Gerard Piqué accidentally committed a handball that ended up in a successful penalty kick for the Russian team. After fighting to move the score both teams went tied to extra time and then to penalty shoot-outs where Spain was eliminated by Russia. The second match of the day between Croatia and Denmark seemed to follow the same pattern ended in a cardiac session of penalties giving the victory to Croatia. This will give us a great match on Saturday between Russia and Croatia with the hosts fighting so hard to keep the cup at their own home.
Thus we arrive on Monday and a huge heartbreak for all Mexican fans who really thought the National team was finally going to break the Round-of-16 curse. Sadly, though Brasil hasn’t been playing as glorious as they’re accustomed to since the last cup back there, they were able to pass through the amazing defense the Mexican team had built and scored 2 goals, ending the dream of millions. Later on, Belgium and Japan would write themselves on the pages of football history with a really impressive match. During the second half of the game, Japan seemed to be the one that would pass to quarters with two goals ahead. But if this cup has taught us something is that nothing is settled till the very end. Belgium managed to tie the game making us believe we were going to witness another penalty shoot-out. Well, we were so wrong since, in the fourth minute of the compensation time, Belgium scored the goal that took them to quarter-finals. This leaves us with a highly expected match between Belgium (favorite to win the cup) and Brazil.
Finally, Tuesday brought the last matches of the phase with one kind of boring match between Switzerland and Sweden, giving a victory of 1-0 to the latter, and a really intense match between Colombia and England. In this one, England got the lead throughout basically all the match after a penalty kick in favor of the English team. However, Colombia gave us a lesson on resiliency and on the second minute of the compensation time, they managed to score tying the match and going to extra time. With no changes, both teams had to face each other on penalty shoot-outs allowing England to break the 30 years spell of losing on this phase. The last match of the quarter-finals phase will be Sweden versus England.
In our recent articles focused on the Football Cup, we’ve been paying more attention to our Latin American teams. Sadly, of the eight Latin American countries that classified to the Cup, only two managed to pass to the World Cup 2018 quarter-finals. We’re rooting for Uruguay and Brazil to represent us in semi-finals and if they continue their good job (mainly Uruguay) bring the cup to our continent!
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