For this second to last round of predictions, I’m going to get straight to the point.
Semifinal Matches and Predictions (W indicates Winner)
Croatia vs England
Croatia vs England is probably not the prediction most people made for their semifinal brackets. This is a very real possibility though, folks! My prediction of France’s early exit to Croatia in the Round of 16 doesn’t seem so far-fetched after their 1-1 friendly tie with the United States a few days ago. And while Uruguay does pose a strong attacking threat, I am still not convinced that their goalkeeping is going to get them past a lethal Croatian attack. On the Three Lions front, I think England is going to overpower Colombia in the first knockout round; Colombia has top level talent spread across the pitch, especially going forward, but defensively they are going to have a tough time handling the confident English attack. I’m convinced England pulls out a win to boost the ego against Brazil in the quarterfinals as well, so we find ourselves with an intriguing Croatia-England match up.
As much as I have enjoyed seeing Croatia reach this point in my bracket, this is where their fairy tale ends. Croatia’s midfield is going be so critical throughout this tournament, and having to lean on the players doing the most running is eventually going to catch up with them. England’s physicality across the pitch and depth on the bench will allow them flexibility in making a deep run in Russia, and I think they take full advantage. I predict England reaches their first World Cup final since 1966- when they won tournament. Fun fact: The ONLY time England has gotten past the Quarterfinals, they won the tournament. COME ON YOU…Three Lions!
Germany vs Argentina
A replay of the 2014 final in Brazil, this match doesn’t need extra bells and whistles to get me psyched (that goes for you too, by the way). It almost seems like a given that these two squads will reach the semifinals again, though I do believe Argentina’s quarterfinal match against Spain is going to be a nail-biter. I won’t dive into details of the previous matches for either side in this tourney, but I will say that my choice for this match comes down to redemption and Argentina’s need to win this for Messi. I admit that Argentina’s defense continues to leave me skeptical of their ability to handle a machine like Germany. Otamendi and Fazio are the two best defenders (Mascherano is listed as a midfielder, but I could include him), but have they proven they can handle the class of attackers Germany bring to the table? With great players to complement their skill sets at the highest club levels, yes- but I can only hope the other Argentine defenders on this roster step up to those levels as well. That being said, I’m going with Argentina’s star-studded midfield and striking corps to steal the show in the semi-finals. The combination of tough tacklers, skillers and clinical finishers will throw a wrench in the otherwise effortless turning of the German gears (I feel like I’m using too many auto analogies here, but we’ll take it).
That’s all I’ve got for the semifinals, but I will give my final prediction before the start of the World Cup! Happy Monday Everybody!