The World Cup in Russia certainly has a bag full of Surprises. After 48 exciting and well fought
group stage matches, the top 2 teams from all 8 groups progressed to the round of 16. The
German National has never failed to make Footballing Headlines, but their recent World Cup
campaign is certainly something they would want to forget. Joachim Low’s German team not
only failed to make it to the knock-out stages, but also finished at the bottom in their respective
group. Mohamed Salah‘s Egyptian Team, Robert Lewandoswki lead Poland and Sadio Mane’s
Senegal were the other big teams who had a short stay in Russia. With half the number of
teams eliminated, the remaining 16 had nothing but the ultimate Prize on their minds.
Match 1: France vs Argentina
The 1 st match of the knock out stage saw 5 time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and his
Argentine team take on France in Kazan. A 19 year French kid named Kylian Mbappé became a
star overnight, scoring 2 vital goals and also won his side a penalty kick early in the 1 st half,
which was converted by Antoine Griezmann. The French team trailed 2 goals to 1, before
Benjamin Pavard scored a screamer to get back on level terms. In all 7 goals were scored in the
match and much to the disappointment of Messi fans, the European nation beat Argentina by 4
goals to 3.
Match 2: Uruguay vs Portugal
Match 2 also saw a 5 time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, go down to Uruguay. Edinson Cavani with a goal in each half, helped the South Americans beat Portugal by 2 goals to 1. The only Portugese goal was scored by their veteran defender Pepe.
Match 3: Spain vs Russia
Host Russia were up against a mighty Spanish team at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian Capital.
Russians gave away an own goal in the 11 th minute, but also scored from a spot kick in the same
half. The 1 all score line remained till the end of extra time and match went into a penalty
shoot-out. Akinkeef in the Russian goal was a national Hero as he saved penalties from Koke
and Aspas. Russia progressed 4-3 on penalties.
Match 4: Croatia vs Denmark
Similar to what happened earlier in the day, Croatia and Denmark also had a first half goal each
and failed to score again until the end of extra time. Croatia progressed to the quarters winning
the penalty shoot-out 3-2.
Match 5: Brazil vs Mexico
Brazil were up against Mexico in the 1 st match on day 3. After a goalless 1 st half , Brazil were seen
dominate possession. They were also rewarded with 2 second half goals, scored by Neymar Jr.
and Roberto Firmino. The match ended 2 nil in favor of five time world champions. Mexico have
been eliminated at this stage of the world cup in each of their last seven appearances.
Match 6: Belgium vs Japan
Belgium started favorites against Japan, but found themselves trailing by 2 goals until the 69 th
minute. But the Belgians drafted a dramatic comeback, scoring 3 goals late into the second half.
The winner for the European team was scored by Nacer Chadli.
Match 7: Sweden vs Switzerland
It was an all European clash in St. Petersburg for match 7 in the round of 16, as Sweden without
Zlatan Ibrahimovic were up against the Swiss team. The dead lock was broken by Sweden’s Emil Forsberg in the 66th minute, which proved to be a winner.
Match 8: Colombia vs England
Two top ranked teams in their half of the knock draw had high hopes on making it to the final.
Gareth Southgate the three Lions manager having rested few big names in their final group
game against Belgium, named a full strength starting eleven. After a goalless first 45 minutes,
English captain and also the leading goal scorer in the tournament, Harry Kane gave England the
lead from a perfectly executed spot kick. Colombia, against the run of play scored the equalizer
late into injury time. England were adjudged winner 4-3 on penalties.
The World Champions are out, the Asian Champions are out, the European Champions are out,
all the African participants are out, Messi is gone, Ronaldo is gone but Neymar’s Brazil are still
in it , the most Successful team in the history of the this famous tournament , Brazil, look
promising and so do the Host. A Belgian team lead by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard are peaking up at
the right time, and also the Croatian team. England will hope to continue their good form.
Uruguay’s main men Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani look in great touch, having scored four
times in 90 minutes against Argentina, the team are in fine scoring form and will be facing
Uruguay in the opening match of the Quarter-final stage, followed by Brazil vs Belgium. Russia
will face Croatia in their round of eight match. Quarter final stage will end with England taking
Who will progress to the Semis? The recent history is a proof that the teams performing well on
the given day have prevailed.
Strange, unique, disappointment, delight you may use any adjective to define the world Cup
proceedings till date, but one thing is for sure, as we come to the final stages with only 8 out
the 64 matches remaining, the world cup will only get more exciting as the possibility of a
underdog or less favorite nation to be crowned world champions in Moscow, remains
Written by Shantanu Kulkarni