Safe to say, this World Cup has exceeded all expectations.
The fears of off the pitch trouble have thankfully proved unfounded, the Russian leadership as keen to keep their minority of trouble makers in check on home soil, as they were happy to see them run amok in France two years ago.
Whilst a minority have still travelled and appear to be having the time of their lives most of us are happy to make do with a constant TV diet in recent weeks.
As the group stage ends, the matches do become more strung out, but the importance and intensity grows as we near the sharp end of things.
I booked today (Friday) off work as I don’t think I have ever anticipated a weekend of football, that didn’t involve Newcastle United, quite as much as this one.
I honestly can’t wait, four excellent matches to look forward to, I just don’t want this World Cup to end.
Friday 3pm Uruguay v France
You can never write Uruguay off and they are one of those countries in a World Cup who always seem to put on a show. France put Argentina out in that superb 4-3 last 16 match and they are now opening up with their array of attacking talent. They will have too much for Uruguay but a creaking French defence will give the opposition hope.
I have to go for France in this one.
Uruguay v France Match Betting:
All Uruguay v France betting HERE
Friday 7pm Brazil v Belgium
For me, I will be amazed if this is not game of the tournament, so far. Brazil are bound to attack and this will suit Belgium perfectly as they are so quick on the counter. I find it impossible to think there won’t be goals for both sides here and I think it could all come down to who defends better.
For me Belgium are stronger in defence and I really fancy them to win this one. Whoever wins though, I think we will see a memorable match.
Brazil v Belgium Match Betting:
All Brazil v Belgium betting HERE
Saturday 3pm England v Sweden
This reminds me of when Newcastle got to the FA Cup final 20 years ago. I think we played Everton in the third round but then weak/lower league teams all the way to the final. We ran into a sublime Arsenal team that day but hopefully this World Cup will have a happier ending.
This is surely a dream draw and England will only have themselves to blame if not going through. I see this as a bit of a Tottenham v Huddersfield match in terms of the relative quality and not just because of how many Spurs players are in the team/squad.
England should win and will do, the only concern is that Southgate’s team look incapable of keeping a clean sheet, including against Panama and Tunisia.
England v Sweden Match Betting:
All England v Sweden betting HERE
Saturday 7pm Russia v Croatia
The plucky hosts against the better quality Croats. Hopefully we will all be sitting back smoking our cigars by this point, waiting to see who England get in the semis.
Another dream draw for England no matter who gets through.
The vast majority of the Russian football public didn’t expect their team to get out of the group stage so they are already heroes having reached the quarters.
This is when their luck and stamina runs out though, Croatia will be too good.
Russia v Croatia Match Betting:
All Russia v Croatia betting HERE