Take place on Friday and Saturday as follows
Friday 6th July
3pm Uruguay v France
Uruguay were winners against Portugal with a couple of trademark elements, supreme defensive organisation led by Godin and the class of Cavani and Suarez in the other penalty area. What this Uruguay team has that previous versions didn’t though is ore creativity in midfield though clearly the injury doubt about Cavani is a huge worry
Presumably they won’t though make the same mistake that Argentina did against the pace of Mbappe, defending high and getting caught repeatedly.
I expect a very close game, purely because Uruguay are so smart tactically. Yet France are 11/10 favourites and Uruguay 15/4 outsiders. The draw and extra time must be a serious contender at 9/4 too.
7pm 3pm Brazil v Belgium
Brazil are coming into form and look to be peaking at the right time, with Neymar providing the spark and Coutinho, Willian and Firmino alongside him they should be favourites for a World Cup that has opened up with a number of the fancied sides exiting the competition.
Belgium fought back from 2-0 down against Japan, where tactically Martinez played 2 in midfield against 3 and De Bruyne too deep. At 2-0 down he made the right substitutions and they came through to win thanks to a sparkling counter-attacking goal
I still have my doubts that when push comes to shove against the bigger teams that Martinez has the tactical acumen to succeed.
Prices here are Brazil 11/10 Belgium 11/4 and the draw 5/2 I will take Brazil to progress.
Saturday 7th July
3pm Sweden v England
Sweden are all organisation and were very solid in their 1-0 victory over Switzerland, a deflected strike enough to seal a narrow victory to see them through to the quarter-finals for the first time in 25 years
England were the better team against Colombia for most of the game and were pegged back late on. The Game completely reversed in extra time and eventually they squeezed through on penalties.
This game is only three days later, and Samara has been extremely hot, 38 degrees centigrade in recent days so not easy for two Northern European teams
I expect to see extra time again. The draw at 11/5 the bet
7pm Russia v Croatia
Two teams who needed extra time and penalties to advance to this stage, Russia with a defensive performance against Spain who struggled to break them down and Croatia below par against Denmark. Croatia, on their day, are undoubtedly the better team but Russia are resilient and crucially at home.
Who will rebound? Well I doubt you will see a fitter team than the Russians, and their resilience bodes well. Russia to win as 3/1 underdogs to continue a world cup of surprises. Croatia at 5/4 look too short.