2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarterfinals Preview

The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup proved to be as entertaining as ever. The top teams in international football have shown exhilarating football to fans watching from the Russian stadiums and through the screens in the entire world. The tournament is also as exciting as advertised after underdogs qualified for the later stages and teams favored to reach the finals have already crashed out of the tournament.

Only eight teams remain, and they are only two matches away from the World Cup final in Moscow. Punters from around the world can look forward to wagering in four mouth-watering World Cup quarterfinals matches.

Uruguay (WWWW) vs France (WWDW)

Uruguay arrived in the quarterfinals conceding only one goal in four matches. That goal came from its 2-1 victory over Portugal in the Round of 16, where it withstood attack after attack before Edinson Cavani scored two and sent La Celeste to the quarters. That double might cost him a place in the match against France as he hobbled off the pitch injured.

Cavani’s injury occurred favorably for France. While Les Bleus allowed only one goal—a penalty—in their first three games, their defense looked shaky as they conceded three against Argentina in 90 minutes. However, analysts noted that France’s quality lies more on the offensive end. Promising striker Kylian Mbappe lit up the Russian grass in that Argentina match after he led France in a 4-3 goal-fest.

Blaise Matuidi, French midfielder, said:

“Uruguay without Cavani is not the same thing. You don’t easily replace one of the best attackers in the world. It would be a handicap for them. [The matchup] is not necessarily a nightmare, but a difficult match. They let in very few goals. But we are able to trouble any team, because we have quality in attack. It’s up to us to put ourselves in a position to bother them.”

Analysts and online sportsbooks agree that France’s dazzling attack will overwhelm Uruguay’s structured defense. BetStars, bet365, and 10Bet have the France win at 2.05, while William Hill offers the odds of 2. All four have the odds of an Uruguay win at 4.5, with the exception of bet365 which has Uruguay at 4.6.

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Brazil (DWWW) vs Belgium (WWWW)

Brazil’s famous jogo bonito—beautiful play—has brought the South American side to the quarterfinals. After a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in the opening game, the Seleção has won the next three in a convincing fashion. Their latest win against Mexico, however, showed a rather tepid side. Even with two goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino, the team failed to exhibit free-flowing football expected from a Brazilian squad. Complacency might have hit Brazil, especially as it is yet to face a quality side in this World Cup.

This Belgium team classifies as a quality side, with Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard leading what is considered by most as the golden generation of Belgian footballers. True to their name, Les Diables Rouges terrorized Group G by scoring eight goals in three matches. In Belgium’s Round of 16 game, the squad showed a shaky defense as they fell two goals behind underdogs Japan before scoring the winner at the death in a close 3-2 Belgian victory.

Roberto Martinez, Belgium manager, said:

“We know what we are capable of but Brazil are the favorites, putting us into a different role. But it’s a dream match for our players, they were born to play in a match like this. Naturally we want to win but we are not expected to and that is an important difference.”

This matchup promises to be a cracker with many goals as two of the hottest attacking countries face up in the quarterfinals. Online sportsbooks heavily favor Brazil to win the match; BetStars and 10Bet priced a Brazil win at 2.15, bet365 has the odds at 2.14, while William Hill offers 2.1. Three of them have the same odds of Belgium winning at 3.7, with William Hill offering slightly different odds of 3.6.

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Sweden (WLWW) vs England (WWLD)

Football is coming home to England, the country where the sport originated. After winning the World Cup in 1966, the Three Lions has yet to claim another prestigious trophy. While their group stage performance might be average at best—they finished second place with two wins and a loss—the heroics of Jordan Pickford and Harry Kane in their shoot-out win in their Round of 16 match over Colombia has sparked the optimism of the fans.

The same can be said about Sweden. This is the first tournament it has left out iconic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the Blågult have been producing wins. They have eliminated European giants, Netherlands, in the qualifications. In addition, they took part in the elimination of Germany in the group stages. Their 1-0 win over Switzerland in the round of 16 might not be spectacular, but their organized backline helped them reach the next round.

Ibrahimovic, the top scorer in Swedish football history, said:

“Sweden has a good chance. [Now] it’s not just about how good you are. Now there are a lot of emotions in the picture, because it’s about quarterfinals. The team that can handle their feelings best will have an advantage. It couldn’t be a better draw, [England] think they are so good, they are not. They are spoilt children who earn a lot of money. They don’t have the desperation needed.

Analysts and online bookies disagree. Comparing the two sides, they saw that the English players are of higher quality compared with their Swedish counterparts. 10Bet and bet365 offer the odds of an English win at 7.95, William Hill priced England at 1.91, while BetStars has them at 2. The four provide differing odds for a Sweden victory: bet365 at 4.8, William Hill at 4.5, BetStars at 4.7, and 10Bet at 4.65.

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Russia (WWLD) vs Croatia (WWWD)

Croatia is considered as one of the most exciting teams in this year’s World Cup. After assembling a list of stars centered on midfield duo Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, the Vatreni won their group in convincing fashion, including a 3-0 humbling of Argentina. Their Round of 16 match, however, could spell trouble as an uninterested Croatian squad won against Denmark only on penalties. Analysts expect Croatia to dominate that match, but the team showed fatigue and was lucky to escape elimination.

The Russian squad also has Lady Luck on their side. Predicted to be last in the groups, the Sbornaya scored eight goals in the first two matches to finish second and set a date with Spain. Predicted to get demolished by a deadly Spanish side, Russia managed to hold on and win in the penalty shootout. Now, the underdogs face a daunting challenge of advancing to the semifinal in their home soil.

Aleksandr Samedov, Russia’s winger, said:

“Now there is not so much pressure. Compared to before the tournament and the pressure we felt back then – it was much harder. Now we are in the quarterfinals and we want to bring pleasure to the supporters and get further and we do not feel the pressure as we did before the tournament.”

Cinderella runs are good for stories, but analysts and online sportsbooks see Russia’s own story ending in the quarterfinals. Croatia should be a tough ask, and it is more likely that Russian fans will say goodbye to their team. BetStars, William Hill, and bet365 have the odds of a Croatia win at 2.2, while 10Bet offers 2.25. BetStars and 10Bet offer the odds for a Russia win at 3.9. William Hill and bet365 have Russia at 3.8 and 4, respectively.

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