Waking the Red’s first World Cup discussion hub was a hit, with a lot of you regular readers popping in every day to comment on the wonderful journey that was the group stage. So, we figured it would be a good idea to keep things rolling with a home for all things knockout round. Stay tuned every day for discussion and commentary on every elimination match, right up until the final on July 15!
This World Cup is something special. The Semi-Finals did not disappoint. Belgium finished 3rd, and tomorrow, we get our final: France vs. Croatia!
England 0 - 2 Belgium: You have to feel bad for Belgium, they really deserved to be in the final, and if France hadn’t dispatched them in a cagey semi-final, they would have been favourites to win the whole thing. Today, they showed their quality against a very tired young English side, and took this third-place match, and both meetings at this tournament, decisively. off a pair of goals by Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard.
England 1 - 2 Croatia: The dream ends for the 3 Lions, but they can hold their heads high, they simply faced a better side. Up 1 -0 inside the fifth minute thanks to a wonder of a free kick from Kieran Trippier, England generated tons of chances but just couldn’t finish all the while holding off Croatia’s fearsome midfield. Croatia attacked in waves; something had to give, and it did in the 68’, when Ivan Perisic equalized off a free header. The game went into extra time, and looked to head into penalties, until Mario Manduzkic broke english hearts with the game winner in minute 109’.
And so the final is set between France and Croatia. England will face Belgium for third place.
France 1 - 0 Belgium: This match was end to end excitement right from the opening kick. Both sides played for the win, and perhaps, played with far too much respect for the other. What we got was a masterclass in big-match tactical football. In the end, a set-piece in the 51st minute found Samuel Umtiti, who beat Marouane Fellaini in the air (?!) for the games’s only goal. Belgium fought till the end, desperate for an equalizer that never manifest. France is going to the final, Belgium plays for third place.
Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 on penalties): This match had quite a penchant for the dramatic. Russia scored first, with an excellent strike by Denis Cheryshev. Croatia equalized shortly after, though, as Andrej Kramaric nodded in from the top of the six-yard box. Things quietened down a little from there, although Ivan Perisic nearly won it in regular time for Croatia as he put a glorious opportunity off the post. Nonetheless, we moved on to extra time.
Domagoj Vida found the back of the net first in the extra time, putting Croatia up 2-1 as his header managed to bounce its way inside the right post. That wasn’t to be the end of it, though. Mario Fernandes put a perfect header into the back of the net off a free kick at the 115th minute, and to penalties we went.
The fourth penalty shootout of this World Cup was a fun one. Fyodor Smolov’s spot kick was saved, and Mario Fernandes put his attempt well wide of the post. Croatia converted all but one of their penalties to win and advance to the semi-final.
England 2-0 Sweden: In perhaps the most convincing performance we’ve seen so far from England, the Three Lions dominated Sweden. They made 500 passes and took 12 shots (to Sweden’s 6) en route to a decisive 2-0 win. England’s first goal, unsurprisingly, came off a set piece, as Harry Maguire headed in a corner at the half-hour mark. The second, capping off a dominating stretch of England attack, was a header from Dele Alli, who headed in a perfectly placed lob from Jesse Lingard.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for England, of course, as Jordan Pickford was called upon on several occasions to make jaw-dropping reaction saves. The 24-year-old has been a hero for England in this World Cup, especially after stopping a penalty in the round of 16 shootout against Colombia.
Brazil 1-2 Belgium: This one was a bit of a surprise. The Belgians scored early as Fernandinho headed it into his own goal in the 13th minute to make it 1-0 for his opponents. About 15 minutes after, Belgium scored a much more well-deserved goal, as Romelu Lukaku made an absolutely wonderful run up the middle of the pitch before finding Kevin De Bruyne, who lasered the ball into the bottom of the net.
Brazil added one of their own from Renato Augusto in the second half, but it was too little, too late as the European side went on to eliminate a heralded tournament favourite. Belgium now looks like one of the strongest teams left in the World Cup.
Uruguay 0-2 France: The tournament’s first quarter-final was quite thoroughly dominated by France. They struck first just before halftime as Raphael Varane flicked in a header off a long-distance free kick by Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann then added one of his own around the hour mark, as France picked off an errant pass and burned Uruguay on the counter, before Griezmann’s shot was too powerful for goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to handle. Uruguay was unable to make the most of their chances, which they still managed to create despite having just 38% possession.
The quarter-finals are set to get underway this weekend! Here’s how the bracket looks now:
Sweden 1-0 Switzerland: It’s bad luck that this one was up first, as I’m sure a bit more coffee would have greatly increased everyone’s patience and appreciation for what was a pretty decent example of cagey, tactical soccer. Both teams doubled down on the defence, content to wait for their opportunities. In the end, all it took was a decent shot by Sweden’s Emil Forsberg and one ugly deflection of Swiss defender Manuel Akanji to decide the match in the 66th minute.
England 1-1 Columbia (4-3 on penalties): And then this happened. It’s no secret that many of us at WTR have an extra bit of love in our hearts for the 3 Lions. This holds doubly true for many of our readers. Following the loss to Belgium in the final match of the group stages, England found themselves in a very interesting place. By finishing second in the group, England got the favourable side of the draw, but only if you took the long view; Seeing as Belgium would face Japan, and England would meet Columbia in the round of 16. This advantage would only manifest in later rounds, and this has been a wacky tournament where betting on anything is a fool’s errand. After Belgium almost fell to presumed “minnow” Japan yesterday, lots of second guessing was going down.
At first, it looked like the Sweden - Switzerland tie had rubbed off on this juicy match-up; the first half was crickets; both sides unable to get any kind of rhythm going. The game finally broke in the 57th minute when Harry Kane was mugged in the box, and then converted the penalty. England held off wave after wave of Columbian pressure all the way into the last minute of stoppage time, when Yerry Mina headed a cross from Cuadrado to send the game into extra time.
Columbia clearly played for penalties, which, as we know, is England’s kryptonite. Despite their best efforts, England could not find a goal in extra time, so, yup, penalties. We all know what happened next - England won it’s first penalty shout-out since 1996, and an entire nation (and a whole bunch of anglophiles) finally exhaled.
England and Sweden will face each other in the quarter-finals.
Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Landon Donovan’s second-favourite team was bounced from the World Cup in the round of 16 for the seventh straight time as Brazil dissected their defence. Neymar struck first for Brazil, sliding in to deflect a cross-goal ball into the net. Later, Firmino sealed the deal, cashing in on a very pacey counter-attack to officially eliminate Mexico.
Belgium 3-2 Japan: This match was something special. The first half was boring, but things really heated up after the sides switched ends. Japan burst out of the gate, with a goal from Genki Haraguchi in the 48th minute and an absolute screamer from Takashi Inui just three minutes later. Just as we all thought we were headed for yet another upset in this magical World Cup, Belgium responded.
First there was Jan Vertonghen’s perfect header in the 69th minute. Then, five minutes after, Marouane Fellaini smashed in a header of his own (as he often does) to equalize. Finally, on the last passage of play in the 94th minute, Nacer Chadli broke Japanese hearts on a wonderful counter-attack:
It was an excellent performance from Japan, particularly their goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. Still, Belgium showed their quality in the end, and it’s they that will be advancing to meet Brazil in the quarter-final.
Spain 1-1 Russia (3-4 on penalties): We had our first penalty shootout of the World Cup, and arguably our first shock exit of the knockout stage. Things started out well for Spain, as they took the lead when Sergei Ignashevich deflected a free kick into his own net in the 12th minute. The hosts equalized just before halftime, though, when Artem Dzyuba scored a confident penalty to draw Russia level.
The remainder of regular and extra time was fairly uneventful, though, as it remained 1-1 until we went to spot kicks. All four of Russia’s penalty takers were successful, but Koke and Iago Aspas were denied to eliminate the heavy favourites. So, a team once considered a serious contender to win this World Cup was sent home with a whimper, not with a bang.
Croatia 1-1 Denmark (3-2 on penalties): This one panned out quite similarly to the earlier match, with a 1-1 game decided yet again in a penalty shootout. Mathias Jorgensen scored in the first minute for Denmark, quite an ugly goal sprung by a cannon of a throw-in toward the box. Mario Mandzukic equalized just three minutes later when an awkward deflection fell to him near the six-yard box.
You could’ve turned the game off for at least an hour then, as very little happened until late in extra time. In the 115th minute, though, Croatia won a penalty, but Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel saved Luka Modric’s effort and sent the game to a shootout (and even more penalties!).
Both keepers — Schmeichel and his Danish counterpart Danijel Subasic — were exceptional in the shootout, Schmeichel saving two Croatian kicks and Subasic stopping three to win it for his country.
Croatia now go on to play Russia, with a berth in the World Cup semi-final at stake.
France 4-3 Argentina: This was a wild one, perhaps one of the best matches of the tournament so far. Lionel Messi’s Argentina will bow out of the tournament now after going all the way to the final in 2014, but not for lack of effort against star-studded France. The first half wasn’t particularly eventful, with an Antoine Griezmann penalty (won off an incredible run by Kylian Mbappé), and a pretty long-range goal from Angel Di Maria to make it 1-1 at half. Gabriel Mercado gave Argentina a lead in the 48th minute, but Benjamin Pavard equalized shortly after with a wonder-strike:
From there, Kylian Mbappé took over, scoring a brace to give France a lead that proved insurmountable. Sergio Aguero scored a header off a beautiful cross from Messi in the 93rd minute to give Argentina hope, but it was all for naught.
Uruguay 2-1 Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo also saw his World Cup campaign halted today, as the reigning European champions were thwarted by Uruguay. Although Portugal saw 67% possession and took 20 shots, they only managed to score once, a 55th-minute equalizer by Pepe off a corner.
Uruguay scored early, Edinson Cavani heading in a sublime cross by Luis Suarez in the seventh minute. Cavani scored the winner as well, with a magnificent finish just seven minutes after the equalizer.
First off, an update on our World Cup fantasy league: The Money Shot, despite all the Germans in his team, leads the league. Unfortunately, my team, Harry, Curly, and Mo, hasn’t done so well. I’m in 29th out of 205 teams, so I guess it could be worse.
Anyway, here’s the schedule for the knockout round of the 2018 World Cup, beginning with the Round of 16, as well as how you can watch every match in Canada. We’ll start with a quick look at the bracket, from Wikipedia:
Now, to lay out the times and TV channels as relates to us in Canada. All the following times are EST, of course. Participating teams will be filled in as matches progress.
Round of 16
Saturday, June 30
Sunday, July 1
Monday, July 2
Tuesday, July 3
Friday, July 6
Match 57: Uruguay 0-2 France — SBNation recap
Match 58: Brazil 1-2 Belgium — SBNation recap
Saturday, July 7
Match 60: Sweden 0-2 England — SBNation recap
Match 59: Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 pen.) — SBNation recap
Tuesday, July 10
Match 61: France 1-0 Belgium — 2 p.m., TSN 1/3/4/5, CTV - SBNation recap
Wednesday, July 11
Match 62: England 1-2 Croatia — 2 p.m., TSN 1/3/4/5, CTV - SBNation recap
Third Place Match
Saturday, July 14
Match 63: Belgium 2-0 England— 10 a.m., TSN 1/3/4/5, CTV - SBNation recap
Sunday, July 15
Match 64: France vs. Croatia — 11 a.m., TSN 1/3/4/5, CTV