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2018 FIFA World Cup... is over!


  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    edited August 2018

    The knock out stages are here; who was the best papers to become world champion 2018?

    Check group results in the spoiler, to get a hint on form.

  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up
    I have some games to watch now. Since I am on holidays with a mobile, I can't extend myself much, but I will comment when I finish with all the games.
  • ASdoZeR
    1362 posts Professional
    Aaaand the favorites turned it all around to reach the KO stage. It's truly hard to say who will be the favorite to win the title but for now it seems like Brazil does look the strongest so far.
    Then we'll see some great matchups. France - England on the one side, Argentina - Spain on the other side as the biggest matches. Will be interesting as both France and England are also among the favorites for the title.
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up

    Julio Maldonado @Moscow
    Group A - Hosts sent to the gulag

    The final game of the group stage saw the exit of the host nation from their World Cup and it couldn't have been in worst manners. Russia looked for their chances, they needed to win and wait for other results to advance. Dzyuba missed a penalty in the early minutes of the game, but Cheryshev gave them the goal they were looking for. However, Japan didn't lose composure. Osako raised as leader of his team to turn the score around and Unui sent Russia to the gulag. Extremely disappointing World Cup for Russia, who leave the tournament without a single victory in their own ground.

    In the other match, Serbia surprised and punished the apathetic football of Mexico. A big error of Ochoa and a goal of Ljajic before half time gave the ticket to Serbia to the next round. The Serbian team will need to show more than just pride in the Round of 16.

    Group B - Canada near the miracle, but Germany and Colombia are through

    Canada were near the miracle. The Cinderella of the group competed and frightened the Mannschaft and even enjoyed chances to put the World Cup upside down... but it wasn't possible. Germany keep showing bad signals and were unable to take Canada down. While Canada leave the World Cup with their heads up, Germany reach the next stage with doubts on their football.

    In the other game of the group, Denmark defeated Colombia, who finished the match praying for the resistance of Germany. Denmark appeared in this World Cup too late and the goal of Jorgensen is just an anecdote. A sad exit for a team that were supposed to go further. Colombia advance in 2nd position and probably reached their main objective. Anything else will be a plus for them.

    Group C - Croatia's efforts were useless: out of the World Cup

    Croatia played a huge game. They probably knew that Portugal were going to defeat New Zealand, as it finally happened, and the draw were not enough. With Rakitic, Modric and Kovacic creating football, the team of the Balcans played their best game of the World Cup, but football is about goals... and they didn't appear. The Croatians didn't lose a game in this World Cup and they leave the tournament as a consequence of goal difference. A big loss for a team with a lot of talent. On the other side, it's also to praise the resistance of Senegal, who finish the group on top, in one of the biggest surprises of the tournament.

    Portugal, the Euro winners, didn't miss their chance and crushed New Zealand. André Silva soon in the game, and then Ronaldo and Martins punched out New Zealands goal and completed the task. Portugal are in the Round of 16.

    Group D - Netherlands learn to suffer and top the group

    Chile took the Netherlands to the limit, but failed to break the defense of the Dutch, who top the group with an isolated goal of Memphis Depay. Chile tried in all the possible manners against Netherlands, who showed their worst face again. The South Americans enjoyed the best chances and played the ball wisely. There are not news of the Clockwork Orange. The goal of Depay and the top position shouldn't hide the problems of this team.

    Belgium recovered their best face after the defeat against the Netherlands and finished with China without much problems. A goal of Chadli after a counter attack and Fellaini after a set piece gave the 3 points to the Belgians and the 2nd position of the group.

    Group E - Uruguay see the end of a memorable generation. France, too superior

    One of the news of this final game of the group stage is the end of one of the most memorable generations of Uruguay, at least in modern times. The goal of Luis Suárez gave hopes to the South Americans, but Azmoun's goal for Iran sent them back to the reality. Suárez, Cavani, Godín, 'El Cebolla' Rodriguez... a generation that gave lots of smiles to their country see the dream vanish.

    In the other game of the group, France and Nigeria decided who were going to top the group, with an eye put on Uruguay. At the end, a goal of Matuidi from out of the box confirmed that France are superior and deserved the top position. Nigeria, despite the defeat, advance as 2nd position in a successful result for them.

    Group F - Brazil show muscle. England rise

    Probably everyone consider Brazil the favourites at this point. They are the only team that have won all 3 games. But beyond the results, they also showed to be extremely reliable and solid. As we said in previous articles 'O Jogo Bonito' is just a commercial slogan, but the reality is that the 'Canarinha' are in top form. Without any kind of flashy football, they didn't have problems to get rid of Morocco.

    England comes 2nd in this group. The initial defeat against Brazil put the English team in a limit situation, but the 'Three Lions' responded to criticism with 2 victories to seal the pass to the next round. Sterling and Alli, with 2 goals in the first half, were the goal scorers against a very poor Turkey.

    Group G - USA punish Peru's antifootball. Spain find relief

    USA surprised in group G and finished on top thanks to Brooks' goal against Peru. This time the mean football of the Peruvians didn't find success, which is something that our eyes will thank in the next games. The USA have completed a fantastic group stage and reach the knock out stages again, which probably was their main objective. Now it's yet to see how far they can go.

    And Spain found relief in this final game against a very poor Austria, who leave the World Cup without any kind of glory. Spain were too superior. Saúl gave them the lead with an outstanding shot from very far and Rodrigo finished the game after a nice colective action and an assist of Asensio. Spain fail to top the group, but they are in the next round. We'll see if the Spanish side can keep growing. For now, the signals are not good for them.

    Group H - Argentina fly. Immobile, new Italian hero

    The early goal of Australia was just an anecdote. Argentina fly to the next round as they found gold in Dybala's feet. The Higuain-Dybala debate should be over now. 'La Joya' gave fresh air to Argentina's attack and mixed very well with their captain Leo Messi, who scored one of the best goals of this World Cup. Before the show of Dybala, 'El Jefecito' Mascherano rose as leader of his team to rescue the 'albiceleste' in their worst moments.

    Italy also had to sweat blood to get their ticket to the next stage. A strange handball of Chiellini allowed Salah to open the scoreboard and put Italy's World Cup in danger, but Immobile became the new Italian hero with 2 goals of pure striker to turn the score around. Italy survived again and they're in the knock out stages.


    Paulo Dybala

    'La Joya' Paulo Dybala, who started the World Cup from the bench, appeared to destroy Australia and to make evident that he must be the striker of the 'Albiceleste'.

    Yuya Osako

    Werder Bremen's striker sent Russia to the grave with 2 goals that allowed Japon to make history as they top the group A with nice and dinamic football. One of the surprises of this World Cup.

    Ciro Immobile

    Ciro Immobile opened the front cover of all the Italian newspapers. His two goals were effective and showed the skills that any striker must have. The hopes of the 4 time champions are on him.


    Mario Mandzukic

    The symbol of the failure of the attacking line of Croatia. The lack of efficiency inside the box punished Croatia and took them out of the World Cup.

    Joachim Löw

    Joachim Löw doesn't find the key and Germany can't stop showing poor signals. Despite the Germans finished on top of their group, the 'Mannschaft' seems far from their best form. A change is needed.

    Óscar W. Tabárez

    Uruguay say good bye to the World Cup. 'El Maestro' Tabárez's health problems were an ironic reflection of a team that seemed old and slow. Russia have seen the end of a memorable generation of players.
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up

    Julio Maldonado @Moscow


    Japan v Colombia

    On paper it seems a very balanced clash. Before half time we would have given Colombia higher chances. However, Japan have shown an unexpected consistency and have probably been one of the best sides of the group stages. On the other side, Colombia have enough talent to advance, but they definitely need to show a plus this time. Our prediction: Japan.

    Senegal v Belgium

    Senegal surprised in their group to finish on top... but sadly for them, they've found Belgium in their way. The Red Devils, despite their defeat against the Netherlands, are one of the favourites and we don't think they're going to fail now that the knock-out stages are here. Our prediction: Belgium.

    France v England

    A classic, a top game. This is one of the most interesting games of this round. France have been the best side of this World Cup so far, along with Brazil. A team with muscle and talent, with Mbappé as a top star, making his difference despite his age. France will test their supposed superior level against a top side. England lost against a brilliant Brazil, but they responded with solid results. England appear as a victim, but we don't have any doubts that they can definitely surprised France. Our prediction: France.

    USA v Italy

    The USA have finished on top of their group... to face one of the giants of football history. The USA have shown a very good image so far, including a solid game against Spain. However, it's hard for us to see the Americans defeating Italy. The Italians manage very well in these situations and, despite they showed weaknesses, they know this business well. Our prediction: Italy.

    Germany v Serbia

    Germany and Serbia struggled to advance. The 'Mannschaft' were disappointing, but they finished on top of their group, what makes us think that they still are reliable, even in the worst days. In our opinion, this fact will be enough for the Germans to defeat Serbia, who probably are one of the weakest sides in this stage. Our prediction: Germany.

    Netherlands v Portugal

    It's hard for us to make a prediction: a 50-50 game between two classic European nations. The Netherlands are showing better results than football. In their favour, they showed their potential against a fierce rival as Belgium. However, their football seem slow and predictable at moments. Portugal didn't find their best football yet and they only abused of a poor New Zealand to advance. Recent history give Portugal more chances, but they still seem declining without the best Ronaldo. Our prediction: Netherlands.

    Brazil v Nigeria

    We don't see Nigeria as a rival for this Brazil. The 'Canarinha' are the best side of this World Cup, the only team that have won all 3 matches and we don't think this is going to change now. It would be a total surprise, despite Nigeria have shown dinamic football in the group stage. Our prediction: Brazil.

    Argentina v Spain

    Along with the England-France, this is the other top game of this round. Even if Spain would have been the favourite in this World Cup, internal problems and tactical doubts punish their chances, while Argentina seem to find solutions with Dybala as striker supported by Messi as playmaker. The 'Albiceleste' are rising, while Spain still improvise in their football, despite the last victory. Our prediction: Argentina.
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 49: SENEGAL v BELGIUM [1st Second Round Game]
    anybody else getting nervous at the penalty spot?



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 50: JAPAN v COLOMBIA [2nd Second Round Game]
    There were only four minutes of injury time added...



  • ASdoZeR
    1362 posts Professional
    Hazard stepping up and showing nerves as Belgium did have more problems than expected especially considering they have been the better team.
    And what a big win for Japan. They continue to surprise and manage the comeback. Great to see!
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 51: GERMANY v SERBIA [3rd Second Round Game]
    You know that joke about the German way of winning?...



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    edited September 2018
    MATCH 52: NETHERLANDS v PORTUGAL [4th Second Round Game]
    Only competitive win for the Dutch over Portugal was a EURO qualifier, back in 1991



    Post edited by Danimal5981 on
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    Four quarter-finalists are known, here come the other four!
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    edited September 2018
    MATCH 53: FRANCE v ENGLAND [5th Second Round Game]
    Is it coming home, or are they going home?



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 54: USA v ITALY [6th Second Round Game]
    The opening goal is impressive



  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up
    First 4 games.


    Julio Maldonado @Moscow


    Senegal, who were the best defense in the World Cup in the group stages, suicided with two penalties and handled Belgium the pass to the quarter-finals. As expected Belgium enjoyed the ball possession since the beginning, with Senegal waiting for errors. But Gassama touched the ball inside the box in an irrelevant attacking action and Hazard didn't miss the chance to give his team the lead.

    The script of the game didn't change much after the 1-0, with Belgium keeping the ball wisely and Senegal trying to find counter attacks without success. The game died in the injury time of the first half, when Kouyate's handball allowed Belgium to enjoy a new penalty, this time in a more doubtful situation. Hazard succeed and fooled Gomis again to increase the advantage.

    The game had no story after half time. Belgium didn't need to give their best to defeat a naive rival and progress into the quarter-finals.



    Japan break their historic roof and reach the quarter-final for the first time ever after an epic comeback. Colombia assumed the favourite role and tried to dominate the game. However, it was a slow and tedious domination that didn't harm the rival. Only quality sparks by James Rodriguez and, especially, the pace of Cuadrado put the Japanese into trouble. Preciselly, Colombia's goal was a great combiation by these two players.

    Colombia had made it possible. They had already done the hardest task, opening Japan's goal. However, Japan kept their heads cool and, in the 2nd half, jumped on the grass with renovated power. As the Japanese grew in the game, the Colombians vanished. In the 74', Davinson Sánchez failed to take the ball out of the box and gifted Muto, who had come from the bench, the draw.

    The 1-1 gave Japan wings, while Colombia, who already saw themselves in the next round, saw dark clouds. Japan intensified the pressure and exploited the doubts of the rival to find the goods in the dying minutes. Shoji became the national hero finishing a brilliant counter-attack driven by Muto. The goal was protested by the Colombians as it was scored one minute over the extended time given by the referee. The protests finished in tears, while Japan celebrated this historic moment.



    Germany advance without glamour after a late victory in the dying moments of the extra time. The Germans, who are yet to show the image of the team that won the World Cup 4 years ago, played a really dark game against Serbia.

    Serbia didn't want the ball and Germany had it, but always far from the rival's goal. Özil was as dominant as irrelevant, while Mario Gómez, a surprise in Löw's lineup, never gave options to his team. Perhaps Germany tried to be patient, but the reality was that the team lacked passion, while Serbia was happy to take the game to the last minutes.

    Löw saw the problem and introduced Goretzka and Werner, who gave fresh air to the team. In this last part of the game, Germany started to accelerate their football and Serbia finally struggled. Still the best chance of the 90 minutes was for Serbia. Mitrovic left all the rivals behind and assisted Tadic, who wasted the chance they were looking for.

    In the extra time, Germany wanted to avoid the penalties and increased the pressure. And when the penalties seemed to come, Müller scored the goal that finally opened the scoreboard and decided the game. Despite the referee added more than 10 minutes of extra time, Serbia didn't have resources to change the game and, again after a corner kick, Reus scored the 2nd for a Germany whose image is still poor.



    Portugal and Netherlands played a huge and tense World Cup game. Portugal, the Euro winners, are a team built to serve their quality wingers, Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva. A solid block with more muscle than talent at midfield, with problems in the creation, but TNT in attack. The Netherlands tried to be honest with their history. Without the quality of other generations, the team still try to keep their trademark football.

    Early in the game, Depay found Pröpper, who shot the ball out of Rui Ricardo's reach. Portugal were in their worst scenario, as they are not a team build to dominate. Still Ronaldo and Silva tried and forced Netherlands to take steps backwards to balance the game.

    In the 2nd half, the game lost quality and got clumsy. Netherlands still enjoyed more ball possession, but their football lacked vertical approach, becoming predictable. Portugal didn't hesitate to throw long balls into Netherland's box. A huge error of Van Dijk and De Vrij gave André Silva the chance to tie the game. Portugal tried to take advantage of the situation to close Netherlands into their box, but the game went to the extra time.

    The early minutes of the extra time showed that Netherlands had found some relief, but as the minutes passed Portugal got impulse and the pace and skills of Ronaldo and Quaresma took Netherlands to the limit again. But in an isolated action, Pröpper, heart and lungs of the team during 120 minutes, left his position to appear into the box and head the ball into Rui Patricio's goal. The late and desperate attempts of Portugal were useless as Netherlands resisted to keep their World Cup dream alive.

  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 55: BRAZIL v NIGERIA [7th Second Round Game]
    Surprises, surprises...



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 56: ARGENTINA v SPAIN [8th & Final Second Round Game]
    End of an Era



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    The Quarter Finals
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up

    Julio Maldonado @Moscow


    Top game in this Round of 16 stage of the World Cup. France, who showed to be one of the top favourites in the group stage, had a good test against a rising England. The match met the expectatives.

    Deschamps' plan was initially conservative. The French had the ball, but not taking unnecessary risks as they knew that England is mainly dangerous in open field. In the first half, we saw a slow France enjoying a high ball possession, but toothless in attack. On the other hand, England didn't feel uncomfortable without the ball and, whenever they had the chance they went forward at vertigo speed, although without much impact.

    Half time was good for France to refresh ideas. They got aware about their superior level and looked for the goal, mainly in the boots of Dembélé (who was the surprise in the lineup) and Mbappé, while England got smaller and saw how their attacking production was declining. However, without the magic touch of Griezmann, very quiet during the game, the French needed someone to break the script. Kanté was the man. In the dying minutes, the defensive midfielder broke lines to appear in the box and execute England.

    France advance, but we would like to see this team breaking their chains. They have the players for it.



    Probably one of the biggest surprises of the tournament and not just for the result, but also for the image. The USA played a fresh and dinamic game to send Italy home and probably no one can say that it was unfair.

    The North American team were brave since the initial whistle, showing attacking attitude, dinamic football and fresh legs against an anemic Italy who got surprised by a rival, supposedly inferior on paper. The USA bombed Buffon's goal until Altidore finally found the net, with a precise missile.

    Italy grew in the second half, without much football, but with pride, especially in the boots of Immobile, probably the only Italian who leave Russia with the head up. The Italian forward enjoyed the best chance and nearly tied the game. However, the biggest chance was for Altidore, who couldn't close the game, missing a penalty when the match was entering in the final minutes.

    He could have avoided some suffering to his teammates, but not much later Dempsey (always him!) appear to assist Wood, who taking advantage of the great spaces at the back of the Italian defense, executed Buffon to take the USA to the quarter-finals of the World Cup and Italy back home.



    What a magnificent football show! In our opinion, the most passionate and beautiful game of the World Cup so far.

    Nigeria rejected to play the victim role. The Africans surprised the 'Canarinha' with braveness in the initial minutes. A stunned Brazil didn't expect the rivals to attack them with verticality and real danger. So when Miranda, in a dramatic error, gave the ball to Obi, who assisted to Musa to score the first goal for Nigeria, the overall feeling in the press stands was that this result was fair.

    The goal woke up Brazil. When the Brazilians saw themselves down in the scoreboard, two names appeared: Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus. Brazil grew from the lungs and the power of Paulinho, whose hyperactivity fed his teammates. Neymar could have tied the game in a penalty that was stopped by Uzoho, but it was Gabriel Jesus who restablished the draw.

    In the 2nd half, Brazil didn't want to leave room for more surprises and kept the pressure on a rival that still had time to throw counter-attacks. Brazil dominated, but Nigeria wasn't dead. Finally, Brazil found gold, again in Paulinho's boots. The all-midfielder appeared from the 2nd line to score what it seemed the final goal. However the game still had a surprise and Nigeria didn't surrender to find a penalty in the 94'. Moses took the game to the extra time.

    Was it possible to see a surprise? It seems Neymar wasn't. The Brazilian star, who played a poor game, appeared in this decisive minutes and finished with the last breath of a fantastic Nigeria. Brazil advance, but showed weaknesses for the first time. Nigeria fall, but their legacy in this World Cup is extraordinary.



    Many were killing Spain after a very poor group stage, but the Spanish NT showed a huge level to play an infinite 'rondo' to execute a dizzy Argentina.

    Spain may not be the super team of 2010, but there were moments of tiki-taka revival that can make Spain dream with anything. The Spanish side were not the slow team of the group stage, there were moments of brilliant football in 'La Roja' and the first and only goal of Silva was the best example of it. Spain passed the ball around, always at first touch, while Argentina chased shadows. The 1-0 was fair.

    Argentina was overwhelmed by the situation. Banega and Mascherano couldn't stop the fluid football of Spain and didn't have lungs in the creation. In this situation, Messi adopted the midfielder role at moments, aware of the superior level of the rival, but was too far from the isolated forwards, totally disconnected from Agüero, Dybala and Di Maria.

    The big sin of Spain was that they were too Baroque at moments. They had enough chances to score the 2nd, but most of the times the last pass was unnecessary. The best news for Argentina was the result. In the minute 89, a crossed ball by Tagliafico wasn't stopped by De Gea, who left the ball at Banega. The midfielder looked for the back of the net and the ball surpassed the beaten goalkeeper, but Piqué saved Spain over the line and Pavón's last attempt didn't reach its target. It was the only clear chance for Argentina and had gone to the limbo. Will Messi have a new chance? We don't know, but we know that Spain are growing in this tournament.
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up

    Our quarter-final prediction:

    Japan v Belgium

    Japan may be one of the nicest and biggest surprises of the tournament. They left behind good rivals, but Belgium are major words. Belgium's bad day against the Netherlands is behind and they seem to have enough resources to defeat their rival, as long as they don't play with arrogance. Our prediction: Belgium

    France v USA

    France meet the other big surprise of this World Cup. The USA have just defeated Italy and they are aware that the pressure is on their rival. Still France probably are one of the top favourites, as they mix colective football sense and individual talent. We still want to see France unchained, as we believe they may be a fierce rival, but even if they still prefer to go through the solid football path, they are the big favourites. Our prediction: France.

    Germany v Netherlands

    The champions of 2014 don't stop showing weaknesses. On paper, the Germans are the great favourites in this classic of international football, but the Netherlands, despite they're not a legendary team as other 'Oranje' squads of the past, they already showed that they can defeat anyone in a good day. Germany must show their best face to defeat their rivals and perhaps some changes are required. The Netherlands look for a new semifinal and they won't accept the victim role. Tough prediction. Our prediction: Netherlands.

    Brazil v Spain

    An advanced final. Brazil and Spain have the talent and the experience to offer a great football match. Brazil is the favourite in our books, as they seem to be at the top of their level in this competition. Coutinho and Paulinho mix muscle, talent and goals. If they are able to get the best of Neymar, they'll be difficult to beat. And still if there's one team that can do it, that is Spain. After a poor group stage, the best tiki-taka appeared against Argentina. The Spanish side are used to win in recent years, so even if they've been irregular, they are a team to take seriously. Our prediction: Brazil.
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    edited September 2018
    MATCH 57: JAPAN v BELGIUM [1st Quarter Final]
    Dries is pronounced as Dreece, not Drice...



    Post edited by Danimal5981 on
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up
    Nice game... I'll do the articles once all the QFs are done.

    A petition here... please, no spoilers!! Sometimes I can see it coming from the comment. :#
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    edited September 2018
    MATCH 58: FRANCE v UNITED STATES [2nd Quarter Final]
    It's the first competitive encounter between the two countries ever



    Post edited by Danimal5981 on
  • ASdoZeR
    1362 posts Professional
    Daaamn german efficiency there against Serbia. What a thriller to progress in extra time. And then big win for France against England to prove once again that it definitely isn't coming home.
    And then the biggest surprise as the USA beat Italy. Ok what am I saying's Italy. No surprise at all.

    No the quarter finals where the underdogs will face the big boys to prove that they are here for a reason. Two of them failed already now with Belgium and France showing their muscles and didn't let anything come between them and the next round. No teasing here.
    Now there is the neighbourhood duel next. Hard to say who will come out on top as Germany struggled more than expected despite always controlling the game. On the other side the Netherlands already showed what they're capable of by beating Belgium in the group stage and Portugal in the last round. I will go for a narrow win for Germany here.
    In the next game it's Brazil against Spain. Spain are struggling to show good performances consistently while Brazil are on fire the whole tournament. Then Spain showed their talent against Argentina while Brazil struggled against a strong nigerian team. So it's all set for a big game but I will go with a win for Brazil here.
  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 59: BRAZIL v SPAIN [3rd Quarter Final]
    Exciting until the end



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
    MATCH 60: GERMANY v NETHERLANDS [4th & last Quarter Final]
    That fiercest of European rivalries at the World Cup for the first time since 1990



  • Danimal5981
    2455 posts Fans' Favourite
  • ASdoZeR
    1362 posts Professional
    Daaaamn narrow escapes for Brazil and France. Really surprised how well the americans played this tournament.
    And then the Netherlands...yeah I'll just leave it how it is :/:D
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up
    edited September 2018

    Julio Maldonado @Moscow



    Belgium reach the semifinals of the World Cup impulsed by the goals of Mertens and the gloves of Curtois, who stopped two penalties.

    Belgium was fully determined to show why they were the favourites. Belgium took the ball and looked for the rival goal with intensity against a stunned Japanese team, who felt vertigo for the first time. In a bit more than just half an hour, Mertens had scored his two goals, which seemed definitive as Japan didn't seem to have an answer to the rival's proposal.

    However, near half time, a clumsy tackled by Kompany gave Honda the chance to tight the game in a key moment. For the first time, Curtois appeared to make the difference and stopped the penalty.

    In the 2nd half, Belgium played with the time and was less vertical. Japan found oxygen and the game got balanced. And yet again, when the game wasn't fully closed yet, Verthongen touched the ball with his hand and gave Japan a new chance to go back to the game. Curtois wasn't ready for it and stopped the second penalty, also kicked by Honda, and sent the match to sleep. Belgium was in the semis.



    The only goal of Dembélé broke the dreams of a brave American team. France showed up as big and clear favourite to win this clash against a surprising US team. The reality was that France weren't as dominant nor the USA were as victims as pundits expected.

    France showed their credentials, a team with muscle at midfield and dinamite uptfront. But the USA replied with dinamic football and didn't play the small team role. The intensity and verticality of the American team surprised the French, who expected a more placid game.

    While Howard was fundamental to stop the attacks of the scary French attackers, Lloris also had to appear to avoid surprises. France was superior, but the USA threatened 'Les Bleus' and showed why they were in the quarter-finals.

    The difference was in the details. In what it seemed an irrelevant action, a poor vertical pass of Pogba, usually a candy for a defender, wasn't controlled by Acosta. A smart and faithful Dembélé appeared to steal the ball and score the only goal of the game.

    With advantage, France is a team with resources and muscle, while the American attacks were too naive to knock down a rival that never allows too much in defense. France advance without glitter, the USA go home with the head up and the boots on.



    A superb game, an advanced final. Brazil survived to the Spanish 'Tiki-taka' to reach the semifinals in an exciting game.

    In the first half, Brazil and Spain gave a great show, with alternatives for both sides. Spain, who have grown during this World Cup, played their trademark football, with a precise and fast paced passing football. Brazil, who had been very dominant during all the games, discussed the ball possession and showed power in attack, but for the first time found a rival of their size.

    In the 2nd half, Spain owned the game, while Brazil struggled to stop the nice and yet efficient game of the rival. Koke, Silva, Isco, Busquets... the Spanish midfield owned the ball and Brazil started to chase shadows. Finally, Rodrigo appeared to give Spain the lead.

    It was to expect the reaction of Brazil, but we saw a great Spain, feeling comfortable in advantage and showing their best moments of football. In this situation, as it happened against Argentina, Spain were a victims of themselves and didn't close the game when it was in their hands.

    When the game was about to die, an isolated action, Alisson kicked the ball far from his goal, trying to escape from Spain's pressure. In a chain of effective actions, Firmino headed the ball to Willian, who returned the ball in a vertical pass. Firmino saw Douglas Costa giving him an alternative and the last executed De Gea to send the game to the extra time.

    Spain didn't count on 30 more minutes and felt the shock. On the other side, Brazil, who seemed totally dead, found lungs out of nowhere. The extra time showed a renewed Brazil and a sad Spain. Brazil started to reach De Gea's goal constantly. The story had changed and, near the end, Danilo surprised from the back to assist a dark Neymar, whose shot deflected by De Gea finished in the boots of Douglas Costa, who became an instant hero.

    Brazil survived to their worst day, Spain died in their best.



    A historic clash in international football, a game of great rivalry, a different end of the story. Germany may always be the favourites, only because of the shirt they wear. But everyone knew the Netherlands were going to have their chance. If there's a team that play with faith in this World Cup, this is the 'Oranje' squad.

    Germany, very irregular during all the tournament, found gold soon. Gomez saw the hole at Netherland back to break the line with un expected ease. Once the Dutch were broken, Gomez saw Özil, who assisted Draxler to execute Cilessen. Too soon too easy.

    The goal gave Germany the calm, while the Netherlands got shocked by the early goal. But Germany isn't the expected reliable machine and Netherland grew as the minutes passed to balance the game. And near half time, Blind went forward to see the vertical run of Propper, the best Dutch player in this World Cup, who assisted Depay to tie the game. A key goal in a key moment.

    With the game balanced again, the second half didn't have a clear owner to start, but the Germans grew in the match again and started to enjoy chances. The Dutch committed to survive with a great colective effort. It paid off. Again in a vertical action, with Germany leaving space at their backs, Wijnaldum saw Janmaat showing up in the right wing. The full back faced Neuer, who saved his team in the first shot, but the deflected ball finished at Depay's head to impulsed the ball into the goal: 2-1.

    In the last minutes, we saw a desperate Germany, looking for the rival goal with heart, but without tactical sense. The Netherlands didn't lose their cool and exploited the errors of the rival instead of sitting back waiting for the end. In the last seconds, a ball hang into the box fell to Propper's boots after several rebounds and the midfielder executed Neuer. The revenge was complete, the Netherlands are in the semifinals again.
  • subpop
    3364 posts National Call-Up

    Our predictions:


    Belgium showed their best face against Japan... but also their weaknesses. France isn't a shiny team, but they proved to be reliable, a team that don't make mistakes and punish the rival's errors. It's evident Belgium have enough talent to beat anyone, but France may be the safest bet in this clash. Our prediction: France.


    Brazil saw the face of death against Spain... but they're alive. Brazil survived to their worst day and they returned stronger. The Netherlands are playing above expectations, impulsed by the Depay-Propper connection. Will it be enough for the 'Oranje'? Possibly, but unlikely. The Brazilians seem to have more resources than Germany and seem the clear favorites for the final... are they? Our prediction: Brazil.
  • Alastair
    10136 posts Moderator
    Moved to FIFA 19 CMS.
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