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2018 FIFA World Cup: Here are our predictions for the finals

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Just four sides have survived the carnage in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This has been a strange tournament, filled with upsets. The semi finals on July 10 and 11 will decide who will sweat it out in Moscow on July 15. France and Belgium — two pre-tournament favourites — will first clash in a powerhouse contest. The next day will see dark horses Croatia and England lock horns. We preview the two matches and give our best shot at predicting the winners. How about you? Who do you think will make it to the finals?

France versus Belgium

This is bound to be an epic encounter!
After a slow start, France is peaking at the right time. Coach Didier Deschamps seems to have got the
formula right. The Les Bleus are now performing like a well-oiled machine: remember how they
overcame Uruguay in the quarters? The South Americans were aggressive and cohesive, but the French
managed to keep them at bay. France is now looking like a champion contender. With a prowling Kylian
Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud, France would look to expose Belgium’s weakest link: their
defence.
On the other side, France’s defence is going to have a tough time keeping the likes of Eden Hazard,
Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku at bay. The Red Devils have had goals scored by nine of its players
which shows the depth in their attack. The team has many match-winners and doesn’t depend on one
or two individuals to produce magic. Their win over Brazil was perhaps the standout performance of the knockout stages. Coach Roberto Martinez displayed a tactical edge in that match. His strategies ensured
that Belgium was devastating on the counter-attack. Can he spring a surprise twice in a row?
Our prediction:
This is a tough one! Both are evenly-matched. France’s experience of having played big matches gives them a slight edge. In a high-scoring thriller, France may perhaps edge out Belgium 3-2.

Image Courtesy : YouTube

England versus Croatia
Croatia starts as the underdogs against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.
Croatia hasn’t performed to its potential till now. They narrowly edged out both Denmark and Russia in
the knockouts; through penalty shootouts. There are question marks over the fitness of three members
of their starting eleven. Right-back Sime Vrsaljko, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and striker Mario
Mandzukic are doubtful starters for the semi-finals. But the England team will write them off at their
own peril. Croatia has the potential to be challenging opponents. Playmakers Luka Modric and Ivan
Rakitic are sure to give the English defence some headaches.
England, on the other hand, seems to have had a mixed tournament. They have shone in patches.
However, the luck of the draw has favoured them. Even though they have struggled to score goals in
open play, Harry Kane is a constant danger to the opposition. Jordan Pickford’s outstanding
performance under the bar has been another reason for England’s success. He executed vital saves in
the quarterfinal match against Sweden. He will have to pull out all stops, especially if the semi-final goes into penalties. England is definitely the clear favourite to make it to the summit clash. English fans are already chanting ‘It’s coming home.’ But will it?
Our prediction:
England will win 2-1. However, if it goes to penalties, it’s anybody’s game!

Image Courtesy : London Carpediem.cd

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