Over the weekend the FIFA World Cup quarter finals were played, with four teams moving through to the semi-finals while four have gone home. The matches were between Uruguay and France, Belgium and Brazil, Sweden and England and Russia and Croatia.
The World cup quarter final winners were France (2-0), Belgium (2-1), England (2-0) and Croatia (2-2, 4-3 in penalty shoot-out). This means that France will play Belgium and England will play Croatia for a spot in the final, while the two losers will play off for third place.
Before they lost to Belgium Brazil were the favourites to win the tournament, but that honour now belongs to France – with England and Belgium close behind. Belgium and France are probably the form teams of the World Cup, and both are thus far undefeated, but they will have to face each other before one of them can reach the final.
England have also been very strong, with the only blemish on their record a loss by their second string side to Belgium. Croatia have been a dark horse so far, but their victory over Russia (who hugely exceeded expectations) has propelled them into the spotlight. England should beat them, but the Three Lions have historically underperformed at major tournaments and could stumble at the final hurdle.
France began the tournament as one of the favourites, and they have done nothing to dispel that favouritism thus far. They have beaten two historically very strong teams in Argentina and Uruguay in the knockout rounds so far, and will be confident against a Belgian side coming off a very impressive scalp of its own in Brazil.
England haven’t played any big contenders so far (except for a pool game against Belgium in which both sides fielded their B-team) and they will be ready for their biggest challenge yet against Croatia. The Croats beat Argentina very handily in the pool stages and will have the confidence that they can beat any of the remaining teams in the World Cup. Both teams have survived knock-out penalty shoot-outs to progress this far, so neither should lose their nerve under pressure.
The FIFA World Cup quarter finals were full of action and suspense, and there is no reason to think the semi-finals will be any different.