Fixtures and Results
Tuesday, Jul 10 6:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
The mouth-watering tie of France vs Belgium is the first semi final of the week and it could literally go either way. The French have been working their way through the games showing glimpses of brilliance but still have a peak we have not seen so far. The Mbappe show in Argentina was their best attacking performance so far but also their weakest defensive performance. The best overall 90 minutes was the previous win vs Uruguay where they did not give them a sniff and comfortably made the semi finals. They will need to up it once more I feel if they are to brush aside this Belgian side though and I feel that is too much of an ask for this French side right now who are just missing something for me.
Belgium come into this semi final with their squad finally showing the potentially it has, it is arguably the best squad player for player in the world right now and are showing just how good they can be. They had a major slip up in the Japan game where they were on the brink of elimination, but they managed to regroup and dispatch 3 second half goals and make it through to quarterfinals where Brazil awaited. The game we saw vs Brazil was a fantastic game in which both sides were attacking and most defences looking subpar imo. Belgium did eventually show too much but they did have to hang on at the death but now they are within 90 minutes away from a World Cup Final!
I would think Belgium are going to have too much offensively here for France and if Mbappe or Greizmann can't get service or serve up some magic themselves it might be tough going so i have to side with Belgium here. Fellaini again might be key with his physical presence and his dominance in the air.
France 1-2 Belgium
Wednesday, Jul 11 6:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
The unlikeliest of World Cup Semi Finals for this tournament you would have expected but here it is, Croatia, a team who have struggled in World Cup qualification, having to sack their manager before the playoffs games now find themselves in a World Cup Semi Final. England, not winning a tournament game for 8 years let alone a knock out game (in 12 years!) find themselves here as well after they too have finally lived up to expectations and played the way they should have.
Croatia gets here on the back of a very solid group win, spanking the likes of Argentina 3-0 before two penalty shootout victories over Denmark and Russia. They will need to stop giving away goals like they have done in the previous rounds though vs England and really sure up the back for the set piece bombardment England will serve up, but they have the offensive players to hurt any team left. The bring strong Mandzukic upfront is a nightmare for any CB pairing or trio, then adding in the pace of Perisic and Rebic, who get service from two of the best passing midfielders in the game now; Modric & Rakitic. Again i stress they will need to get on the ball, keep it and hurt England by trying to play through them, if they don't keep the ball here they might be in for a tough evening in Moscow.
England get here after a Hurricane blew away the first two opponents in the group stage before they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Belgium to finish second place....tactical or not they now find themselves in the Semi Final of a major tournament for the first time in 28 years! The game vs Colombia was a scrappy, dogged affair in which the world has already had its say on due to how rough and tough it was, but the Sweden quarterfinal was a solid victory to get them to this stage. Harry Kane and set pieces key for England who just look so dangerous. Henderson and Trippier also need to be shown respect as two key men in the offense. Sterling, might not be able to finish but he can do everything else up to that point and really works hard with his movement and again will be key. Can he finally get his goal after Dele Alli scored his in the previous round?
This game for me rests in the balance of how well Croatia deal with set pieces, if they can limit England to only a few and defend them well then they have all the chances to hurt England by just playing their way through with the pace of Perisic and the strength of Mandzukic.
England 1-1 Croatia