France 4 – Argentina 3
After the excitement of the last minute Marcos Rojo goal that pushed Argentina past Nigeria into the round of 16, you felt like it may be Leo Messi’s time to finally win something with Argentina. A certain 19 year old by the name of Kylian Mbappe had other ideas. Although the final score finished as a tight 4-3 match, France looked like the team we always knew they could be. Facing elimination after going down 2-1 to the Argentines, France’s wonderboy, Mbappe took over with two goals in 4 minutes. Yet again, Argentina’s manager Jorge Sampaoli was reluctant to change tactics and look to his very experienced bench. When he finally did he got a late stoppage time goal from Sergio Aguero, however it was too little too late.
Uruguay 2 – Portugal 1
In what some thought would be one of the more boring games of the tournament, Uruguay vs Portugal turned out to be a very exciting 2-1 game, with the South Americans pulling through. With a boost from an early Edinson Cavani goal, Uruguay always seemed in control and looked well disciplined. Even with one of the best players in half a century in Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal never really looked too threatening to a stingy Uruguay. The only downside was Cavani leaving the game with an injury that appears to be keeping him out for the next game. I would not be surprised if Uruguay snuck their way in to a semi-final or even final birth. With the stout defensive pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez complemented by the strike force lead by Luis Suarez, Uruguay is the total package.
And just like that, Uruguay takes the lead!
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 30, 2018
Brazil 2 – Mexico 0
Although Mexico came out of the gates hot, dominating possession and controlling the tempo of the game. But, the tournament favorites from South America grew into the game and by the time the 2nd half rolled around, Brazil didn’t look threatened by Mexico. Two 2nd half goals (Neymar & Roberto Firmino) put the Brazilians far out of reach. Brazil looks like the most balanced team in the tournament right now and barring a disaster, will most likely find themselves in a semi-final and most likely even a final.
Belgium 3 – Japan 2
In what was probably the game of the tournament, Belgium just barely squeaked by with a win over large underdogs, Japan. In shocking fashion Japan took a 2-0 lead and looked to be on their way to the country’s first ever quarter final appearance in The World Cup. Belgium had other ideas. After a looping header goal from Jan Vertonghen (that he later admitted was not even a shot on goal) brought the Belgians within a goal, they took over from there and dominated the ball until eventually putting two more past the Japanese keeper, the 2nd of which was on the final kick of the game in the 94th minute. When Belgium can hit their stride that are one of the deadliest teams in the tournament, however, unlucky for them they have to face the tournament favorites Brazil in the quarterfinal.
Spain 1 – Russia 1 (4-3 Russia on penalties)
Perhaps the upset of the tournament so far, as host country Russia pulled off a stunning victory in penalty kicks over soccer powerhouse Spain. After the Spanish took the lead from a corner kick in the 12th minute they looked to already have it wrapped up. Russia would eventually be awarded a penalty shot from a Gerard Pique handball in the box, converted by striker Artem Dzyuba. For the final 49 minutes plus 30 minutes of extra time, the Russians put all 11 men behind the ball and stifled an admittedly limp Spanish attack. The Russians later admitted that they never had any intention of playing to win in regular time, just to sit back and hope to make it to penalties where it would surely be a 50-50 draw. That plan worked to perfection and eventually gave us the biggest upset in World Cup history based on the two teams FIFA rankings, (Spain 10th, Russia 70th). Russia will face Croatia in the quarterfinals.
Croatia 1 – Denmark 1 (3-2 Croatia on penalties)
After Croatia’s exquisite group stage performance they looked very poised to make a deep run in the tournament, especially drawing the easier side of the bracket. Denmark, who came into the game as underdogs looked to change that by scoring a goal only a minute into the game. Croatia would strike back only 3 minutes later after a mad scramble in the Danish box. The scoring ended there with Croatia eventually winning 3-2 on penalty kicks. After just surviving in what was a very stale game, Croatia still looks like the team to beat on their side of the bracket. With a much more direct and physical approach to attacking play, they should be able to get past a very disciplined Russian side in the quarterfinal.
Sweden 1 – Switzerland 0
Fresh off of their 3-0 win over Mexico in the final group stage game, Sweden did not look to slow down and fought their way to a 1-0 round of 16 win against Switzerland. It was a very close affair between two teams that are not littered with attacking talent. The lone goal in the game was a wicked deflection from an Emil Forsberg shot in the 66th minute. Sweden look very disciplined and stingy and could make life very difficult for any team remaining in their path to a final.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 3, 2018
England 1 – Colombia 1 (4-3 England on penalties)
England vs Colombia was looked at as the game that would most likely provide the team to represent this side of the bracket in the final of this tournament. The game was entertaining but did not provide a lot of beauty. Colombia, who were without star player James Rodriguez, sat back and rarely looked to threaten England who in their own right were pretty steril with the ball. The South Americans only really started to push in the final 15 minutes and eventually got a ball past England keeper Jordan Pickford off of a corner in the 93rd minute, sending the match to extra time. The extra time was as stale as the 90 minutes of regulation time, leading to the most dreaded ten minutes in every English fans life, penalties. England has gone out of the World Cup in penalty shootouts on 3 other occasions (tied for most). This year though, the curse proved to be lifted as Eric Dier’s final penalty shot sent England into the quarterfinals to face Sweden. England now look to make it their first final since winning it all in 1966.