Russia and Croatia look to emulate group stage mindset

Tyler Owen
July 7, 2018

The Fifa World Cup 2018's group stage has been quite generous in the number of goals scored in the stoppage time of the second half.

Uruguay have struck me as being extremely hard to beat and, whether or not it is backed up statistically, I think they have got the best defence in the competition.

The team, managed by Gareth Southgate, will play Sweden after their victory against Columbia earlier this week, which caused Stormzy to pause his gig to watch the penalty shoot out. Four matches will be played between the top eight teams.

Belgium´s forward Romelu Lukaku reacts and speaks during a press conference at the Kazan arena, in Kazan, on July 5, 2018 on the eve of the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter final match between Belgium and Brazil. Most of our pundits have gone for a France win; only Gab Marcotti bucks the trend by saying Uruguay will make the semifinals.

"Yeah, we have watched nearly all of their games", Croatia forward Ivan Perisic told reporters at their training base in Sochi on Wednesday.

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Belgium's 12 goals are the most by any team in the tournament, but the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard will be faced with a stingy defensive opponent in Brazil, which hasn't conceded since its first game against Switzerland.

The match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium will be the only quarter-final encounter to pit two former champions against each other.

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On a dramatic night in Moscow's Spartak Stadium, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a key save from Carlos Bacca before Eric Dier's spot-kick gave England their first-ever win on penalties at a World Cup at the fourth attempt - ending the jinx that has dogged them for so long.

After Japan blew a 2-0 lead with 25 minutes left, the players and fans could have thrown a huge fit - but instead they respectfully said thank you to their hosts.

The current Croatian squad is one win away from matching their 1998 success of reaching the semi-finals. Both teams are packed with attacking talent, so surely we'll see plenty of goals?

"We have been preparing for months, for weeks to play matches like that", said France coach Didier Deschamps.

"Why not?", he said of his team's chances against favourites Croatia, perceived to be a dark horse in this tournament.

Croatia got to the first position in Group D and won 3-2 on penalties in extra time in the knockouts match against Denmark.

"We had fine games with Saudi Arabia and with Egypt as well as with Spain".

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