T he 2018 World Cup enters it’s final week with four European nations remaining in a tournament that has captured the imagination. The worrying thought about what we will do with ourselves once it is over can wait, because two well-matched semi-finals await. France face Belgium while England play Croatia in their biggest match for a generation. It is England’s first World Cup semi-final appearance since 1990 when they lost to West Germany on penalties.
England eased through to the semis with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sweden while Croatia needed penalties to progress past host Russia.
France took full advantage of an Edinson Cavani-less Uruguay, before tournament favourites Brazil were put to the sword by Belgium’s incisive counter-attacking in a thrilling game in Kazan.
G ermany, Spain, Argentina and Portugal are other nations who have fallen by the wayside in one of the most open and unpredictable tournaments in World Cup history.
With 20 million people tuning in to watch England’s win over Sweden, the country would reach fever pitch if Gareth Southgate’s team get past Croatia and reach their first tournament final since 1966.
Is it coming home?
Teams that reached the semi-finals
- France (2-0 winners against Uruguay)
- Belgium (2-1 winners against Brazil)
- Croatia (winners on penalties against Russia after a 2-2 draw)
- England (2-0 winners against Sweden)
Match dates and Sam Wallace’s Predictions
France vs Belgium
W ill Belgium set up to counter attack again? Didier Deschamps has the time to work on a plan to beat that. France have more options than Brazil to counteract their threats.
P rediction: France 3 Belgium 2
England vs Croatia
Croatia have to deal with playing 120 minutes against Russia on Saturday and, throughout this year’s tournament, England have managed to find the right game plan when it mattered.
Prediction: England 2 Croatia 1
Who could play whom in the World Cup final?
Belgium/France vs England/Croatia.