With the summer’s biggest sporting event reaching its climax, we’ve taken a closer look at the four teams remaining and predict who will reach the World Cup final
France v Belgium
The first semi-final is set to be a cracker between two of the highest-ranked teams left in the tournament, as France take on neighbours Belgium. Both sides were fancied to reach this stage before the World Cup started, and with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé all featuring, they have certainly matched pre-tournament expectations.
France are of course the most successful of the two nations, and you would expect Head Coach and World Cup ‘98 winner Didier Deschamps’s experience to rub off on his players. However, it’s hard to ignore the talent that his counterpart Roberto Martinez has at his disposal. Whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be a fascinating duel against these two highly-respected teams.
Expect goals in this one, given the array of attacking talent on show. This is a really close game to call, but the weight of expectation on Belgium might be too much, which should give France the edge.
Prediction: France 3-2 Belgium
Croatia v England
Football’s coming home, at least according to England fans. A reference to the popular 1996 song by Baddiel, Skinner and Lightning Seeds, Gareth Southgate’s side have certainly restored the public’s belief in their national team, exceeding pre-tournament expectations to reach the final four in Russia.
On the other side, Croatia have gone about their business quietly and have surprised many to make it this far. They have some world-class players to rely on too, with Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić key members for them.
England fans will be well aware this will be no walkover, with most likely to remember the rainy night from 2007 when Croatia prevented them from qualifying for Euro 2008 with a 3-2 victory at Wembley. However, it’s hard to look past the side that includes the tournament’s top goal scorer, Harry Kane.
Prediction: Croatia 1-2 England
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