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FIFA World Cup 2018: Predictions for quarterfinal match results
On 29 June 2018, I had given my predictions for FIFA 2018 World Cup knock out match results in an article published in Merinews, the link of which is given below:

I had 50 per cent success with my predictions for the Round 16 matches. Obviously, I do not have the natural instinct of Paul the Octopus or Achilles the Cat, but then predicting anything in this World Cup is hazardous. If Russia can stun Spain, then I think Sweden can lift the World Cup as well, such is the unpredictability of matches in this World Cup. All predictions are jeopardized especially when most goals are conceded with time ticking out towards the fag end of extra time.

Predict at your own risk is the catch phrase for this world cup. But then, I will still predict using data and variables such as possession, shots at goals, corners won, team strength, current form, cards picked, injury list and most importantly, the luck factor. Although market odds arealso a guideline, it is largelythe prediction using data and variables with some margins of adjustments which the bookies know.

Now we know the quarterfinal line up. Here is my analysis:

France Vs Uruguay (6 July 2018 at 7.30 pm IST)

France was lucky to get past a determined and resurgent Argentina. Teamwork is the real strength of France with great strikers like Griezman, Giroud, Mbapp and Pogba. The man to watch out for is Mbapp as I consider him as a great star in the making. France is very good in counter attack. Uruguay will again depend on their defensive wall and the attacking combination of Suarez and Cavani that sent Portugal home packing. If Cavani is fit, then Uruguay certainly has a fighting chance against France. France holds FIFA ranking of 7 whereas Uruguay is at 14. But rankings do not matter in World Cup football where passion rules. Although France is marginally ahead in overall strength and competence, Uruguay is still capable of a surprise.

Market odds: For each $ bet, you get $2.00 if France wins and $4.33 if Uruguay wins making France the bookies' favorite.

Prediction: France winning by one goal margin.

Belgium Vs Brazil (6 July 2018 at 10.30 pm IST)

Brazil is always favorite in any World Cup. Soccer fans just love this team for their beautiful art of playing football. Brazil has been consistent in this world cup. Neymar, Firmino, Coutinho and Jesus are doing fine as strikers whereas Thiago Silva leads the defense. Their passing is world class. They have a sound defense and an equally versatile attack. But Belgium is no easy push over. They have world class players playing in leagues across Europe. Boasting of top quality strikers like Lukaku and Hazzard and defenders like Kompany, Belgium will give a tough fight to Brazil. Japan has the first-hand knowledge of the might of the Belgian team. Trailing 0-2 till the 68th minute, Belgium made a comeback to win 3-2 and incredibly neither Lukaku nor Hazard scored a goal. With Brazil at number 2 and Belgium at number 3 in FIFA rankings, this is going to be the most unpredictable and evenly contested match in the quarterfinals. I expect this match to be a high scoring one.

Market odds: For each $ bet, you get $2.10 if Brazil wins and $3.50 if Belgium wins making Brazil the bookies' favorite.

Prediction: Brazil will prevail in a nail biting finish.

England Vs Sweden (7 July 2018 at 7.30 pm IST)

Sweden is on song. No one considered them to top the group as Germany was the hot favorite. But Sweden proved everyone wrong by their attacking style of football. Forsberg scored an excellent winner against Denmark in R16. This team has nothing to lose and therefore they are playing fearless football. On the other hand, England will be under pressure to reach the finals this time as their path looks to be a bit easier compared to say Belgium. Avoiding Brazil and France before the final is definitely an advantage for England. Harry Kane is already the top scorer in this World Cup with 6 goals. Moreover he has scored in the last six matches he played for England. With the captain in form, England has strikers like Sterling, Vardy and Rashford. Ashley Young is at his defensive best. Lingaard and Henderson are also doing well in the midfield. So this match is going to be interesting. Against a fearless team like Sweden, England need to maintain calm and strategize according to the situation. England is ranked 12 whereas Sweden is at 24 in FIFA rankings.

Market odds: For each $ bet, you get $1.83 if England wins and $4.50 if Sweden wins making England the bookies' favorite.

Prediction: England will win. The match may be decided by a penalty shootout.

Russia Vs Croatia (7 July 2018 at 10.30 pm IST)

Russia is the lowest ranked team in the World Cup at 70th number in FIFA rankings whereas Croatia is at the 20th position, but Russia has the home advantage as host. Because of an easy group, people expected them to qualify for R16. But when Russia stunned Spain to reach the quarterfinals, everyone is wary of this team now. With home support, little known Russian players are playing out of their skins and winning matches one after another. But I think the match against Croatia will be their last. Croatia is having a fine team with a per fect balance between attack and defense. Modric and Rakitic are in form and the entire team gels well. They like to keep possession and their passing is near perfect. I do not think Croatia will have any problem in ending Russia's dream run in the tournament.

Market odds: For each $ bet, you get $2.20 if Croatia wins and $3.75 if Russia wins making Croatia the bookies' favorite.

Prediction: Croatia winning comfortably as bookies say. I will not be surprised or disappointed if Russia wins against my prediction as this is the World Cup of upsets. Russia has already caused an upset by eliminating Spain, so they can do it again.

I will come back again for the semifinal analysis. Let us see how the predictions go for the quarterfinals!

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