(Today, in the first two Quarter-Finals: Ukraine [Rank 17] are OUT, as are Brazil [Rank 2])
There is much elation that England has at long last reached the Quarter finals of the World Cup, not least as a result of winning in a penalty shoot-out for the very first time ever, eh?
People are getting carried-away though, aren’t they? Yep, they think England are indeed heading for the Final (wishful thinking?), and they do that by simply ignoring how our team has done so far (performances which have NOT been impressive), don’t you think?
In that last game (a last 16 knockout against Columbia), we may have won, but NOT well, as the overall team performance was inadequate so anything but world-class, drew 1-1, and again we MISSED a penalty in the decisive shootout (despite the players having been physiologically assessed?) – it just happened that the other side missed two (so England won the tie).
In their previous game England lost 1-0 while fielding the second XI, so that gives little self-assurance, does it?
Furthermore, as that was against ‘high potential’ Belgium, who playing with confidence (no wonder – they haven’t lost in 18 games, eh?) have tonight just KO’d favourites mighty Brazil 2-1, its seems to be that Southgate’s decision not to test his ‘real’ team against them at Group level was a sadly missed opportunity to dent their record, wouldn’t you say?
In the game before that, England were playing a very poor side, indeed scored 5 goals in the first half, but were pretty abysmal in the second half (fell asleep to concede a goal, but won 6-1 after a fluke Kane goal he knew nothing about).
In the first game in Russia, England won 2-1 in a very scrappy match but only then at the twelfth hour, with some luck it must be said.
Just to make two points, England have conceded a goal in EVERY game so far, and squandered scores of goal chances, so that doesn’t auger well for a team hoping to challenge for the trophy, does it?
Nevertheless, England do have a ‘reasonable’ chance to reach a semi-final tomorrow afternoon, as we are playing Sweden, and they are only of a ‘similar’ class to England [though many will rate them as the underdog], so it will depend on who performs best on the night, don’t you think?
England’s players and manager have a level of confidence that hasn’t matched the actual happenings on the pitch, and it would be folly to underestimate Sweden [as France, Italy Switzerland, Mexico seem to have done in the past, eh?]. Sweden are probably starless these days, now that Zlatan Ibrahimović has retired, but nevertheless they gel as a well organised team.
However, England do have the players to break-down that strong Swedish defence, but there has been sparse demonstration of that over these past two plus weeks in Russia, unfortunately?
[England are generally given about a fifty percent chance of winning this one at 90 minutes, and Sweden about twenty-five percent!
(Bookies odds are around 10/11 England & 4/1 Sweden. England odds of actually winning the competition have been slashed from 16/1 at the start to 4/1 now)].
[The first Semi-Final is between France lRank 7] and Belgium [Rank 3] Tuesday evening.
If England win tomorrow they will play Russia [Rank 66] or Croatia [Rank 18] in the second Semi-Final Wednesday evening].
(Rankings pre June at time of squad selections)
THE GOLDEN BOOT 2018 [Remaining contenders]
Rank Player Goals
1 Harry Kane 6
2 Romelu Lukaku 4
3 Antoine Griezmann 3
4 Denis Cheryshev
4 Artem Dzyuba
4 Kylian Mbappe 3
World Cup Finals’ progression
Quarter Finals France = A
Russia v. Croatia = B
Belgium = C
Sweden v. England = D
Semi Finals Winner A v. Winner C
Winner B v. Winner D
The winning 2 teams to progress
Final 15th July