Brazil vs Belgium (2 p.m. ET Friday, July 6)
Most shots were blocked by the Brazil defense, which might turn out to be their secret weapon. The Brazilians performed admirably all around, even if the antics of Neymar once again caused some uproar. Until now, though, they have yet to be tested by a world-class, offensive team. If Brazil strolled past Mexico, then Belgium had to push had to get its result against Japan.
The defense was shaky as the Belgians fell behind by halftime. Japan hit back hard on the counterattack and at times confused the Belgians while controlling the play. Belgian goals were hard to come by until a couple of substitutions in the 65th minute and a more straightforward offense led to two goals in five minutes.
The go-ahead goal came from a fast counterattack in the final seconds. Both teams love the ball and like to play offense, so this should be an entertaining, even match with each team scoring a couple of goals. Belgium, surprisingly has more in-form weapons on offense; Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus has yet to score in the tournament. Not having the suspended Casemiro in the bottom of the midfield will be a blow, however.
Accuscore simulations show a 52 percent probability of Belgium surprising Brazil. Sweden has pushed through to the top eight despite being counted out various times before and during the tournament. The squad's tactics have been top-notch and it is playing to its strengths. As long as their game plan holds and they're able to keep their net untouched, anything is possible. That is exactly what happened in their narrow victory over Switzerland. The young Three Lions did what was deemed impossible; win a penalty shootout in the World Cup.
Manager Gareth Southgate has a lot to think about before this match: England will have its work cut out for it to break through and not leave its back exposed to the counterattacks Sweden is likely to try to create. This is a tough matchup for England, but it should have the offensive prowess to do what Switzerland couldn't, which is to create a goal or two. That, in turn, would force Sweden out of its comfort zone and into the attack.
Accuscore simulations indicate, with 77 percent probability, that Sweden's run will end and England will qualify. The Russians held their ground while being pounded by Spain for minutes the Spaniards had the ball for 75 percent of the match and then got the prize after two saved penalties by Igor Akinfeev.
Making the top eight is an unbelievable achievement — they were half expected to fall in the group stage. Their next opponent is likely to exploit their slow defense and all the space in the midfield much more effectively than Spain did.
Croatia recovered quickly from a nightmare start to its match vs. Denmark and took control. From there it was a tough battle all over the field with nothing fancy from either side. Click any odds to add each selection to your bet slip and build your match winner accas. Don't like predictions in this format? Mobile users can view this page in one of two formats - wide table or mobile default. Wide table shows our tips in a desktop left-right scrollable wide format on your mobile device.
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