Today’s Quarter Final matches bring together some exciting expectations from all countries involved and now it’s judgement day for Sweden v England and Russia v Croatia, in an all European face off to reach the Semi-Finals. Sweden and England have somewhat of a friendly and fierce rivalry, with Sweden often times frustrating the Three Lions, with either beating them, drawing against them, or knocking them out of tournaments, such as in the European Championship in Sweden in 1992. However, this is a different time altogether, and Croatia may also be in for a tough time against hosts Russia, with silly and quite hilarious rumours of Vladimir Putin sitting in his bedroom somewhere, being in charge of the tournaments VAR.
Sweden v England have an interesting history of rivalry, and further strange news of the Swedish WAGs staying at the England team hotel last night (tactics?), and the Sweden team being rudely awakened this morning at their five star hotel, with the fire alarm going off in the early morning hours. The Swedes are none too happy and this prank may just backfire or come to the advantage of England. Sweden’s right midfielder Sebastian Larsson is returning after sitting out the last match with suspension, but they are without full back Mikael Lustig, so Emil Krafth will deputize. Albin Ekdal could sit out this match, or start, which would let Gustav Svensson to keep a place in midfield. Sweden will line up in a classic 4-4-2 and will still insist on starting Marcus Berg in attack, even though he’s a famous squanderer of chances. But, sooner or later, he might hit the target, so Sweden remain patient.
England are coming off the back of their momentous and first ever win on penalty kicks, will be wary of the Swedes, but on paper they are the favourites and a much superior side. But, England have some niggling injury doubts, with Ashley Young, Kyle Walker and Dele Alli, all fighting off slight fitness problems in order to feature today. Additionally, Jamie Vardy picked up an extra time injury and is unlikely to feature from the bench, as a result. England will stick with their transitionary 3-5-2 formation, and one wonders if Raheem Sterling will make way for Marcus Rashford.
This will be a tense match, with both sides going for a victory and having a very capable defensive line, the match could become a stalemate if there isn’t an early goal, which would more onwards to extra time and perhaps even penalties. Let’s hope for an entertaining match nonetheless, and there may definitely be some surprises today. It’s anyone’s guess how the game will go…
Match Prediction: Both Teams to Score or Over 1.5 Goals
In the other Quarter Final match, it’s Russia v Croatia, with the hosts taking on a side, whom some believe will make it all the way to the Final, with Luka Modric their talisman in central midfield calling the shots. Russia knocked out Spain, so confidence is high and the Russians have exceeded all expectations in the tournament so far, but today should be the end of their World Cup journey. The Russian will likely go back to a 4-2-3-1 formation, and veteran left wingback Yuri Zhirkov isn’t likely to start, paving the way for Denis Cheryshev to feature from the start, which would be a wise decision. Aleksandr Golovin has been Russia’s other star player and with the crowd behind them, it’s not unthinkable that an upset could happen, but Croatia should see it thorugh as favourites.
Croatia have defender Ivan Strinic out through injury, but apart from that, Croatia will field their usual line up in a 4-5-1 formation, with Mario Mandzukic leading the attack. In midfield Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric, will play through the middle as Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic are providing the attacking support down the flanks. Croatia are one of the most impressive teams in the tournament and they’re expected to progress, after a tight match, but if VAR comes into play, will Russia have some form of preference due to home turf advantage?
Only joking, but we can expect to see both sides working their socks off to ensure victory. In the previous round, both teams won on penalties in order to progress, however, we feel that this won’t occur today and that Croatia will have the edge over Russia.
Match Prediction: Russia v Croatia 1-2 or Over 2.5 goals
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: FIFA.com