World Cup Review: Round of 16; the stage is set for the quarterfinals

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It was an exciting Round of 16 at Russia 2018. It was filled with instant classics, and tough grind out games. The drama was at an all time high! Eight countries advance on, while eight others head home! Our World Cup Review takes a look back at the matches and looks forward to the quarterfinals!

France: 4 Argentina: 3

In a marquee match-up, France’s young guns took on Messi and Argentina. As you can tell by the score line, this one was a shootout. France’s Kylian Mbappé started off strong using his high pace to burn past Argentina’s defense. He won a penalty thanks to this, and Antoine Griezmann stepped up and slotted home the chance! As the first half went on, Argentina tried to get Messi on the ball in every attack. France flooded him, making it hard for one of the best players in the world to find chances to score. At the end of the first half one of Argentina’s build ups saw Ángel Di María on the ball. Defenders backed off him looking to stifle a ball played in to Messi. Di María took his space and rifled a shot into the net. The first half ended 1-1.

In the second half there were even more fireworks. Argentina went up in the 48th minute thanks to a goal from Gabriel Mercado. Argentina looked in control until France found what I see as goal of the tournament. Instead of trying to put it into words, check out video of it here:

https://twitter.com/YedIin/status/1013079966093803520

Benjamin Pavard’s wonder-strike tied the game at the 57th minute and swung the momentum back in France’s favor! Argentina looked dead in the water after that goal, and Kylian Mbappé made them pay. The French teenager scored two goals in four minutes to give France the 4-2 lead.  Argentina tried to muster up attacks after these goals, but poor play on the pitch and poor coaching on the sidelines hurt their cause. Sergio Agüero came on for Argentina and did find a goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time, but it was not enough to spark and Argentina comeback.

France move on, and Argentina head home after a thrilling 4-3 game.

Highlights:

Uruguay: 2 Portugal: 1

Another match-up featuring two great nations. Uruguay and Portugal showed similar styles; sporting stout defense’s and counter attacking offense’s. Early on Uruguay found their opener. Edinson Cavani found the back of the net for Uruguay in the 7th minute putting the pressure on Portugal, and Ronaldo. They couldn’t find the equalizer in the first half.

As the second half started Portugal came out swinging. In the 55th minute, defender Pepe found the equalizer. With the goal, the momentum swung putting all the pressure back on Uruguay. The game moved on with both sides looking to find a crack in the others defense. In the 62nd minute Uruguay found one. Cavani scored his second goal, giving the Uruguayans the lead once again!

as the game progressed Portugal tried to find a second goal, coming close multiple times. At the end of the match, Ronaldo had a dangerous free kick. His attempt went just a bit high missing the mark. Thus showing the brutality of the game as he and Portugal were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

Uruguay moved on to take on France, while Ronlado and Portugal joined Messi and Argentina on their way out of the tournament,

Highlights:

Spain: 1 (3) Russia: 1 (4)

Russia made a surprise run into the knockout stages, and drew one of the worlds fading powerhouses in Spain. As Spain opened the match with their trademarked passing-possession style, they were gifted an early lead. Spain moved into their attacking half. A chance for Spain came off of Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich and ended up in the Russian net. Spain had the lead after the first 11 minutes.

Just before halftime, Russia started an attack. This attack resulted in Spain committing a foul in the box. A golden opportunity to equalize by Russia was taken by Artem Dzyuba. The striker stepped up to the spot and slotted home the chance!

As the game moved into the second half, the game died. Spain controlled possession, but lacked any killer instinct. The regular-time of the match ended 1-1, meaning that the nations would have to play a half an hour more, and possibly go to a penalty shootout. The 30 minutes went the same as the second half. Russia bunkered in and Spain showed  no urgency to find a goal.

The match moved into penalties. Penalties are usually more of a mental game than a skillful game, and it was evident that Spain were shaken by this Russian side! After some great saves by Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev, and good finishing form their players chosen to take the penalty kicks. Russia vanquished Spain!

Russia move on to their first quarterfinals ever, while Spain crash out and head home.

Highlights:

Croatia: 1 (3) Denmark: 1 (2)

Croatia and Denmark both proved they were up for the start of their Round of 16 tie. Mathias Jørgensen scored for Denmark in the first minute of the game! The early lead was enough to spark a fire under Croatia. The Croatians found the equalizer through Mario Mandžukić just three minutes after Denmark struck. The opening five minutes were drama filled. Then the match fell off.

The rest of the first half, whole second half and all but four minutes of a 30 minute extra time period were not so eventful. Both sides looked lost when they got to the final third. That was until Croatia were awarded a penalty in the 116th minute of the game. Luka Modrić stepped up to put Croatia effectively through to the quarterfinals. He took his penalty well, but Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel stuffed the chance. Keeping Denamrk alive. The match would be decided by a penalty shootout!

Both sides looked very nervous taking penalties. Some players missed chances or made save easy for the keepers. Modrić redeemed himself scoring for Croatia. as they prevailed over Denmark through a grueling penalty shootout!

Croatia moved on to the quarterfinals to play host’s Russia, while Denmark had to pack up and head home!

Highlights:

Brazil: 2 Mexico: 0

Brazil have looked like one of the best defensive team in the tournament thus far. Their organization has been a huge part of their success. Mexico, having already beaten a strong German side, looked to dismantle Brazil. As the game kicked off, it was clear that Brazil looked to beat Mexico by out possessing them. Mexico were okay sitting back, looking for a counter attack. As the game grew, Neymar found a way to pester Mexico. The game went to halftime 0-0.

In the second half Brazil looked to play through Neymar to frustrate Mexico. The plan worked! In the 55th minute Neymar found a way behind Mexico, and found the opening goal! This lit a fire under Mexico. The one remaining CONCACAF side tried to push the envelope and find a goal, but Brazil ended their hopes of finding one late on. Second half sub, Roberto Firmino was played in on goal in the 88th minute, and stuck the dagger in Mexico’s net! The game ended 2-0 Brazil over Mexico.

Brazil moved on to the quarterfinals, while Mexico fell short in the round of 16 once again!

Highlights:

Belgium: 3 Japan: 2

One of the most fun, and exhilarating game of the knockout round was the tie between Belgium and Japan! Right from the jump the match was one where both sides were going to take the front-foot. Both sides looked for the opener, but none was found in the first half!

As the second half kicked off, Japan were on fire. just three minutes in, Genki Haraguchifound a goal to give Japan the lead. This just gave Japan more confidence. Four minutes after their first goal, Takashi Inui found a second for Japan! Belgium looked finished only seven minutes into the second half. But as the match went on they found their footing.

Jan Vertonghen found a way to get one goal back just before the final 20 minutes of the match, then Belgium took advantage of their substitutions. Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli came on for Belgium just before their first goal, and after the first goal, both subss stepped up. With 15 minutes left Fellaini  found an equalizer. This led both sides to try to push for a winner in the last 15 minutes.

In the fourth minute of a five-minute stoppage time, japan wiped a corner in. The ball was easily caught by Thibaut Courtois then this happened:

Chadli’s late winner sealed the deal for Belgium on what proved to be the last kick of the game! Belgium won in walkout style 3-2!

Belgium are set for a quarterfinals match against Brazil, whereas Japan are heading home!

Highlights:

Sweden: 1 Switzerland: 0

In a chess-match between two top European sides, Sweden took on Switzerland for a spot in the quarterfinals. it was clear that both sides were very organized and poised to wait for the right chance to present itself. A back-and-forth first half ended 0-0.

In the second half presented more of the same from both sides. As the match moved on there were lots of near misses, and good saves from both keepers to keep the game scoreless. That was, until the 66th minute. Sweden’s Emil Forsberg found space to cut inside the Swiss defense just outside the box. With enough space to let off a shot, he fired. The shot was on track to be stopped by Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, but then took a slight deflection off a defender. The ball ricocheted past the diving Sommer and into the net giving Sweden the lead.

The last moments of the match was full of Switzerland creating dangerous attacks and Sweden snuffing them out. In the end Sweden outlasted Switzerland and advanced!

Sweden move on to the quarterfinals while Switzerland had to head back home!

Highlights:

Colombia: 1 (3) England: 1 (4)

In a wild match, England took on Colombia for a chance to play Sweden in the quarterfinals! Colombia were without their superstar James Rodriguez, but still looked to be a problem for England early on. The first half saw both sides have chances, but the nerves got the better of both.

As the match moved into the second half. England took the front foot. They won an early second half penalty, and golden boot leader Harry Kane stepped up and put away the chance! England had the lead, and made their fans think, this could really be the week that Football comes home! The match moved on and Colombia looked to be beaten, however they had one moment of brilliance very late on.

In the third minute of stoppage time A corner for Colombia was sent into the box. Colombian center back Yerry Mina rose above everyone and scored the tying goal. As both sides moved onto a 30 minute extra time period it was clear both were exhausted. The game moved on to dreaded penalty kicks.

England have been historically bad from the spot in shootouts at big tournaments. On this day, they broke that tradition. England finished off their first three chances, but did miss the third shot. Colombia then missed a shot, England rallied and scored their fourth. England knew a save meant they would be through to the quarterfinals. Jordan Pickford stoned Colombia’s final shooter helping England advance!

England move on to play Sweden in the quarterfinals, while Colombia have to head home!

Highlights:

On to the Quarterfinals:

The quarterfinals are set and take place today and tomorrow! If you thought the Round of 16 was heart-pounding action, the quarterfinals will be even more so! Over the next two days we’ll see who the final four nations will be! Tune in and look fora World Cup Review on all the quarterfinals action on July 9th!

Quarterfinals matchups!

Friday, July 6th: 

Uruguay vs France – 10 am EST – Fox/Telemundo
Brazil vs Belgium – 2 pm EST – Fox/Telemundo

Saturday, July 7th:

Sweden vs England – 10 am EST – Fox/Telemundo
Russia vs Croatia – 2 pm EST – Fox/Telemundo

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