Pope Francis consoles Brazil football fans after Fifa World Cup exit

Jul 11, 2018, 00:48
Pope Francis consoles Brazil football fans after Fifa World Cup exit

But they're out, leaving the odd quartet of France, Belgium, Croatia and England. But the 2018 World Cup has seen a record number of goals off set pieces (68), a record number of penalties awarded (28) and a record number of own goals (11).

That all the four teams in the semifinals are European begs for a call for inward soul-searching from the rest of the world and that burden alone lies with the rise of showbiz rather than teamwork. "It's not something you need to travel to Belgium to realise", he said. The centre-forward has four goals to his name from the group stage, following doubles against both Panama and Tunisia, and his clever dummy allowed Nacer Chadli to bag a dramatic victor against Japan in the last 16.

The question arises: Will we see a new victor in this year's Fifa World Cup or at least a new finalist?

Henry, France's all-time leading goalscorer, was a member of the squads that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil and Euro 2000 alongside French boss Didier Deschamps.

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It's a group of Belgian players, a "golden generation" of competitors, Martinez says are fiercely proud to represent their country. At least the platform is there and they have the ideal players to execute a plan which wins duels to win games.

The final two spots in the semi-finals are on the line, with Sweden facing England and Croatia taking on host Russian Federation. England have been playing well in this World Cup so far on a consistent basis but Croatia have been a cohesive unit.

Brazil, Argentina and Germany, a virtual World Cup dictatorship that won 11 of the 20 tournaments before this one, have all been overthrown and chased away before the semifinals.

Martinez is savvy in the way he goes about playing down expectations - especially when you consider Belgium has always been one of the best sides in the world.

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So what are the odds that can happen?

Even for England, they have progressed into the semi-finals of the World Cup for only the third time, having also done so in 1966 and 1990.

With Belgium and France contesting the other semi-final, City have seven players who have made the semi-final stage.

When the tournament began, not many people predicted a final four consisting of France (No. 7 in Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings), Belgium (No. 3), England (No. 12) and Croatia (No. 20).

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