France v Uruguay and Brazil v Belgium: Who will win? (pre-match analysis)
July 6, 2018 07:30 AM NPT
Uruguay v France
Uruguay and France meet in the first quarter-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, a match that promises much and a reunion or two. Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez face off with Atletico Madrid team-mates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, while Paris Saint-Germain strike partners Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe also cross paths. El Matador, who scored twice against Portugal before limping off, is an injury doubt for La Celeste.
Both teams are unbeaten heading into this clash of former world champions. While Uruguay have won all their games and have conceded just the one goal so far, Les Bleus knocked out Argentina in a spectacular Round of 16 clash.
France will look to the finishing skills of their forwards to extend their nine-match unbeaten run against South American sides at the World Cup, while Uruguayan belief will be buoyed by another revealing stat: on the six previous occasions La Celeste reached the last eight at the world finals, only once did they fail to progress.
Brazil v Belgium
Two of the pre-tournament favourites collide in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday evening at 7pm, as Brazil and Belgium clash in their World Cup quarter-final.
The Red Devils' return of 12 goals for and just four against is almost more Brazilian-like. As it is though, Brazil's defensive marshal, Thiago Silva, has helped his side go 310 minutes without conceding, forming the meanest backline at these world finals, with just a solitary goal against so far. Only rarely have Brazil found the balance between controlled attacking and disciplined defending quite as well as they have so far in Russia.
By way of contrast, the Belgians have proven to be vulnerable at the back. Nevertheless, with players like Romelu Lukaku - who sits second in scoring at this World Cup with four goals - and Eden Hazard, they have also shown themselves to be capable of scoring or creating something at any given moment. It is not for nothing that they are labelled the country's golden generation.