2018 FIFA World Cup Preview & Predictions (Pt. 5) - Semi-finals


(Photo courtesy of yourdes.com)

It’s Part 5.

It’s the semi-finals.

Let’s get this going.

France vs. Belgium

(Photo courtesy of betting.betfair.com)

The more high profile of the two semi-finals (sorry England and Croatia fans), France and Belgium will both have points to prove going into this tie.

France will look to appear in their third final since 1998, while Belgium will look to appear in their first World Cup final, ever.

Looking superficially at this game, France does have the better squad and, on paper, should be able to deal with the threat that is the Belgian attack. Manager, Didier Deschamps, has organized this French team into one that is putrid to watch going forward, but are defensively solid and are hard to break down. This kind of system will definitely help nullify the Lukaku-Hazard-De Bruyne trio that has caused so many problems to so many teams thus far.

Belgium, in their own right, will look forward to getting another chance to showcase just how good they are, by taking down another world superpower. Brazil failed the test that was Roberto Martinez and Belgium, but will France?

This is going to be one of the toughest games to call, simply because we know exactly what we’re going to get with France, but we have no idea what Bobby Martinez is concocting in his footballing renegade mind.

Will Yannick Carrasco play at left wing back again? Will Martinez deploy a 5-man back line with a De Bruyne-Witsel double pivot in midfield? Will Thibaut Courtois start at striker?

WHO KNOWS?!

Final Prediction: France def. Belgium (After Extra Time)

England vs. Croatia

(Photo courtesy of skysports.com)

The semi-final that literally nobody expected going into this tournament.

Yes, I’m sure Billy from Narnia predicted this from the beginning, but we’re not going to pay attention to him. Billy clearly drew countries from a hat. Don’t believe what Billy has to say.

England and Croatia have played pretty similarly in this tournament if you think about it.

England have been difficult to break down, they’ve countered quickly, they’ve controlled game tempo when they’ve needed to, and they’ve been clinical finishers when the opportunities have presented themselves.

Croatia’s tournament has gone almost exactly the same way, but with a slight difference.

Croatia has actually played some very good teams leading up to this point. They’ve gone through the thunder claps of Iceland, the uber-athletic and well-organized Nigeria, the sloppy and wildly lucky Argentina, and then back-to-back penalty shootout wins against Denmark and hosts, Russia.

What England really has an advantage over Croatia in here, is fitness. England has cruised for most of the tournament, with only Colombia giving them a true test so far (their group game against Belgium should honestly count as a friendly).

So, while these teams are both very evenly matched in almost every respect, England will hold a slight edge in fitness, which may make all the difference.

As well, light knocks and niggling injuries to some key players for Croatia will make the task that much more difficult (Subasic and Perisic are both questionable to play).

Is football REALLY coming home?

Final Prediction: England def. Croatia

It’s hard to believe that this World Cup will reach its conclusion in just one week’s time, and it’s been such a fun ride for almost everyone.

Thanks very much to those of you who have stuck with us at The Sports Rooster through all of these World Cup articles; we appreciate each and every one of you.

Only Part 6 remains! Enjoy the semi-finals everyone.