World Cup 2018 quarter-finals: Belgium can shock Brazil, England can progress

The 2018 World Cup in Russia has reached the quarter-final stage and eight teams are still dreaming of lifting football’s most prestigious trophy on July 15.

Five-time winners Brazil are the 11/4 favourites to win the tournament, but the likes of France, Belgium and England are also firmly in contention.

Read on as we look at the four quarter-final ties.

Uruguay vs France – Friday, July 6

France were unimpressive during the group stage, but their performance against Argentina in the first knockout round highlighted their quality.

Kylian Mbappe caused the South American side plenty of problems with his pace and Uruguay’s defence will need to find a way to keep him quiet.

Uruguay deservedly defeated Portugal in the last round, but France are fancied to progress and it would be no surprise to see them go on to reach the final.

Brazil vs Belgium – Friday, July 6

Brazil breezed through the group stage, before beating Mexico in the last 16. They have conceded just one goal so far, but their performances have been functional rather than spectacular.

Belgium won all three of their group games, but they suffered an almighty scare against Japan in the first knockout round. Robert Martinez’s side recovered from two goals down to win 3-2 and they will need to defend much better if they are to defeat Brazil.

The two sides have met once previously in the World Cup, with Brazil winning 2-0 in the round of 16 back in 2002. They went on to win the tournament that year.

Sweden vs England – Saturday, July 7

England had never won a World Cup penalty shoot-out before their success over Colombia on Tuesday and they needed to overcome a huge recent trend in order to progress.

According to research by Betway, 12 of the 15 shoot-outs since the start of the 1998 World Cup have been won by the team going first, but the Three Lions managed to reach the quarter-finals despite shooting second against the South Americans.

England have met Sweden twice at the World Cup previously, drawing both games in 2002 and 2006. The Swedes are difficult to break down, but Gareth Southgate’s side should book a semi-final meeting with either Croatia or Russia.

Russia vs Croatia – Saturday, July 7

Russia sprang a huge surprise in the last 16, beating much-fancied Spain on penalties, but a repeat against Croatia looks unlikely.

Croatia were impressive in the opening stage, winning all three games, before defeating Denmark on penalties in the first knockout round.

Russia have never beaten Croatia in three previous meetings and Zlatko Dalic’s side are fancied to secure a last four tie against England.

Predictions

France may prove too strong for Uruguay, while Belgium can upset the odds and defeat Brazil after a penalty shoot-out. England should edge a tight encounter against Sweden and Croatia can reach the semi-finals for the second time in their history by easing past Russia.

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