This World Cup has been one of the most entertaining in recent memory. There has been a little bit of everything; drama, upsets, comebacks, controversy, and England winning their first ever World Cup penalty shootout. The semifinals are upon us, but who will be playing and how did they get there?
The first semifinal on Tuesday, July 10th will feature two high powered offenses in Belgium and France. Belgium got through to the semifinals in dramatic fashion. They came back from 2-0 down against Japan, winning with the last kick of the ball. Then they upset pre-tournament favorites Brazil, beating them 2-1 and never really losing control of that game. France knocked out another favorite in Argentina in the round of 16 4-3, and then comfortably dealt with a Cavani-less Uruguay 2-0. This is a tasty matchup for neutrals as both of these teams boast high profile stars, such as Antoine Griezmann (France) and Eden Hazard (Belgium). They are both offensive minded teams that have the pace and ability to hit on the counter, while also having some world class defenders such as Jan Vertonghen (Belgium) and Samuel Umtiti (France).
The second semifinal has the tournament’s Cinderella story, Croatia, taking on England. Croatia has a population of about 4 million people, and every single one of them will be watching this game with bated breath after they got through both of the knockout rounds on penalties, first knocking out Denmark and then Russia in dramatic fashion. England fans have been in full voice as they have progressed through the tournament, with the saying, “Football is coming home.” able to be heard and seen everywhere. England won their first every penalty shootout against Colombia and then dispatched Sweden, using their own aerial ability against the tallest team in the tournament. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic of Croatia will hope to limit the service that danger man Harry Kane receives in order to have hope of beating England.