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World Cup Quarter Final Tips – Saturday 7th July
by the Cheeky Punter
In all the euphoria over England’s win over Colombia on penalties, an achievement in itself, it took me about ten minutes to realise that the late Colombian equaliser had cost me another World Cup winner in my selections, but if that is what it takes to get England to the quarterfinals and win a penalty shoot out, I’ll take that financial hit!
I’m hoping to add to my decent run in the knockout stages in the third quarter-final on Saturday, which sees England take on Sweden in Samara in what looks like being another tough game.
At least the Swedes will try to play football. Colombia’s tactics in the first half were a disgrace to the game and I thought England coped with the provocation coming their way very well. I’d have liked to have won in normal time (and pocketed a profit) but a win on penalties is so rare, that we’ll take it.
This game is then followed by the final quarter-final match of the round as the host nation Russia, who sensationally knocked out Spain on penalties in the previous round, face Croatia who also needed penalties to get past Denmark in a game that saved its drama for very early and very late in the game.
2018 World Cup Tips: Saturday 7th July
July 7, 2018
Samara Arena, Samara
July 7, 2018
Samara Arena, Samara
Sweden claimed a spot in the quarter-finals by winning their group and then defeating Switzerland 1-0 in a keenly fought contest in the Round of 16.
England finished second in Group G and then earned a rare penalties victory over Colombia in the Round of 16 to reach this stage, following a 1-1 draw.
Sweden’s Mikael Lustig is suspended for the game. England’s Harry Kane is World Cup leading goalscorer with six goals. No England player is suspended for this game.
The teams have a very even record over the 24 games played between them. There’s been nine draws, England have won eight with Sweden winning seven.
Sweden came through a tough encounter with Switzerland winning 1-0 thanks to Emil Forsberg’s deflected shot. This game was very even and in truth, either side could have won it, but it was the Swedes that had the benefit of a slice of luck on the day that sent them through to the quarter-finals.
They will also benefit from having played just 90 minutes to qualify, although they do have Mikael Lustig, the Celtic full back, suspended for the game after he picked up a second yellow. Albin Ekdal will also need to be checked out after he picked up a knock on his ankle in the game.
England came through a nerve-shredding and physical encounter with Colombia, whose approach to the game was a disgrace to football.England deservedly earned a penalty when Kane, again, was fouled in the box with the Spurs man scoring, but Colombia levelled late on with a Mina header to force extra time and then penalties, which despite England’s dismal record, the Three Lions won for once, Pickford saving Bacca’s kick and then Dier slotting home England’s fifth penalty for a 4-3 win.
Sweden will be physical but won’t resort to the disgraceful tactics of Colombia and as a result, while this will be a nervy game and a tight one, it won’t have the same nasty edge. I think that will benefit England and although it will be close, I think the Three Lions will nab a narrow win here.
Russia advanced to the quarters with a 4-3 penalties win over Spain following a 1-1 draw. Igor Akinfeev was the hero saving from Koke & Aspas for the hosts.
Croatia also earned a quarter-final spot on penalties, defeating Denmark 3-2 after another 1-1 draw, with both teams scoring in the opening four minutes of the game.
Both teams managed to avoid having any players already on yellow cards pick up a further booking so both teams should have a full squad to pick from.
The teams have played just three times previously, they drew 0-0 twice in European Championships qualifiers in 2006 and 2007 and Croatia won 3-1 in November 2015.
It’s hard to make a prediction on this game. Russia were superb defensively against Spain and rode their luck at times, but in truth the Spanish never really threatened to unlock the Russian goal despite having almost all of the possession. However the Russian threat in attack in their last two games has been almost nil and that will be a worry against Croatia.
Croatia looked superb in topping Group D but then produced a very lacklustre performance in the second half against Denmark. Modric’s penalty miss in extra time looked decisive but he redeemed himself in the shootout, scoring one of Croatia’s three successful kicks to send them through into the next stage, but there is no doubt that they will need to play much better against the hosts.
In truth, I do see this game being almost a repeat of the two games the teams had in the Round of 16. I think Russia will sit deep and seek to counter Croatia, while Croatia will enjoy more of the ball and have to break down Russia, while being wary of the threat posed by Russia from set pieces and quick breaks.
Russia got away with this against a Spain side lacking a presence up front. Croatia certainly have that in Perisic, Mandzukic and Rebic in particular and as a result, I think this is the point that the host nation will exit the tournament, but they will do so as heroes after a stirring run to the quarters.
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.