World Cup diary 2018 – Friday 06 July
To misquote Agatha Christie…And then there were eight. Reaching the Final will be on the mind of all the coaches, players and fans of those countries involved and quite rightly, as just two wins separate them from making a date with destiny in Moscow. The Quarter-Finals are spread over two days, beginning today.
France v Uruguay: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
These two sides have met three times in Finals tournaments, with the first in 1966 (is that a good omen for England?) when along with hosts England and Mexico, they made up Group 1. The French took on Uruguay in the second round of games at White City where a crowd of over 45,000 saw Uruguay emerge 2-1 winners, as they finished runners-up in the group. They then met in 2002 where as holders, France finished bottom of Group A, gaining their only point in a 0-0 draw with Uruguay, who also failed to make it to the knock-out phase. In their last meeting in 2010 in Cape Town, France again had the ignominy of finishing bottom of Group A, where again their only point came from a 0-0 against Uruguay, who went on to top the group and finish fourth overall in the competition.
Could a third 0-0 be on the cards for these two teams? When you look at the attacking talent on both sides, you would bet against this. However, given that a last four-spot is at stake, the occasion could get to both sides. But then this World Cup has been nothing if not unpredictable. Anyone for 5-4 to France?
Brazil v Belgium: Kazan Stadium
The only game between the teams came in the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea when they met in the last sixteen. The game played in front of 40,440 at the Kobe Wing Stadium, saw Brazil run out winners 2-0 with goals from Rivaldo (67’) and Ronaldo (87’) on their way to their fifth World Cup victory.
I’ve been quite critical of Brazil, well Neymar in particular, at these Finals, so I’m really hoping that Belgium put one over on the South Americans. The European team have the talent and in reality I think they are the only team in the competition who can stop Brazil winning the competition for a sixth occasion.