The FIFA World Cup semifinals kickoff on Tuesday, July 10. France takes on Belgium in the first semifinal with England and Croatia battling a day later in the second match of the final four.
Each team is one step away from the World Cup final. The losers will still contest the World Cup third-place match, but the game will have little consolation for the teams, players, and supporters if they cannot make it to the final in Moscow on Sunday, July 15.
FIFA World Cup semifinal
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
France vs. Belgium
France won the World Cup 20 years ago, and the country has another special team that could lift the trophy once more. Belgium has never won the World Cup, but the nation’s golden generation could bring home the trophy this year.
France has played well at the tournament. Yet, Didier Deschamps’ team has only shown flashes of what it is capable of it. Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has been impressive notching three goals. Forward partner Antoine Griezmann has also scored three times. There is the feeling France could be even better and Belgium could bring it out of the French on Tuesday.
Belgium is led by star attacking midfielder Eden Hazard. The Belgian No. 10 has been brilliant throughout the tournament and is in line to win the Golden Ball — the award given to the tournament’s best overall player. Manager Roberto Martinez has adjusted his tactics throughout the tournament when needed. He pulled the right strings against Japan to come back from two goals down and win 3-2. He also deployed four defenders against Brazil’s high-powered attack. It led Belgium to a win in which it dominated for nearly the entire match. Belgium right-back Thomas Meunier will miss the game due to suspension.
*** Although ZCode System’s score predictor predicts a 4-0 scoreline, this game will be far closer.
Wednesday, July 11
Croatia vs. England
Croatia has had to go through two penalty shootouts in its last two matches to reach the semifinals. Croatia’s players could experience tired legs, minds, and possible injuries heading into its game with England. Like Belgium, Croatia has a golden generation and this will be its last chance to win the World Cup together. No player is more important than captain Luka Modric, who keeps the team ticking on the pitch. Modric has world-class players around him, but in the last two matches, Croatia has shown it is capable of giving up goals.
Some naysayers have claimed England’s route to the semifinals has been the easiest of any team in World Cup history. Those claims are farcical as the Three Lions have played well throughout the tournament and deserve their place in the semifinal. After beating Colombia on penalties, England dominated Sweden to set up its game with Croatia. England has quality across the pitch – as does Croatia – but England’s pace could disrupt its opponents. England is riding a wave of momentum that could carry over, but Croatia will be a stern test.
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