We are down to the final four team remaining and there were some entertaining games to get us to this point. Here is a recap of how we got here:
France vs. Uruguay
France is beginning to solidify itself as one of the favorites to win the title. They made their 2-0 victory over Uruguay look effortless. In a game that was missing an integral part in Uruguay’s main goal scorer, there was a lack of excitement compared to how it looked on paper. France once again took a lead and never looked back. Varane put France ahead with a goal right before halftime and Griezman followed it up with another in the second half to put the game away. Uruguay was strong in its first four games, but the team was not able to muster the same amount of pressure without Cavani on the field. Les Bleus are now two wins away from the title, a feat they last accomplished in 1998.
Belgium vs. Brazil
Belgium’s historic tournament proceeds as they end the road for powerhouse Brazil in a 2-1 victory. The scoring opened up on an own goal from a corner kick that put Belgium up 1-0. De Bruyne then followed up with a sensational shot to make it 2-0. From that point on, Neymar and Brazil did everything within their power to tie the game. But they could only cut into the deficit with 15 minutes remaining. Courtois had to make spectacular saves, none better than on one of the final shots. The Red Devils have had to win in many ways, from coming back two goals versus Japan and to outlasting Brazil. It seems this team has what it takes to win it all.
England vs. Sweden
One of these two strong teams had to go home after this game; it was Sweden who were defeated 2-0 by England. England was able to score a goal in each half. Both were headers (via Maguire and Alli) to put them closer to the final.
England has been a team that has gotten better as the tournament progresses. Kane, who leads the World Cup in scoring, was held off the score sheet. But his team had help again as their goalie Pickford made incredible saves at timely moments. At times during the game, Sweden were close to getting the score level. But as Pickford had done in previous games, he held them off until the team in front of him scored again to put the game away. The Three Lions have not won the title since 1966. But they have as good a chance as the remaining four opponents to lift the trophy if they are able to get two more victories.
Croatia vs. Russia
The magical run has come to an end for host country Russia. They were defeated by Croatia in penalties 4-3. Russia was able to get on the board first on a beautiful goal. But Croatia tied it up moments later to send the match into extra time. Croatia scored first and thought they had a victory. But the hosts were unfazed and tied the game to send it to a shootout. Russia shot first and it was stopped. A later try was sent completely wide of the net. It came down to Rakitic, who put it past the Russian goalie and sent Vatreni to the semifinal for the first time since 1998.
The semi-finals are sure to be even more thrilling. Stay tuned for a preview.
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