Sweden vs Switzerland (July 3, 2018 3:00pm)
What a day it was yesterday as Mexico laboured in vain to crash in the hands of Brazil, while not many pundits fancied the Mexicans, it was the heroics of the Japanese warriors against title contender, Belgium that bewildered lots, two quick second half goals and the Red Devils were left scrambling for their lives and it took gross inexperience on the parts of the Japanese and sleek intelligence on the part of the Belgians to reverse the seemingly impossible.
To the matter of the day, Sweden got in through the back door, and emphatically too, they were written off after losing late on to Toni Kroos’s free kick only to take laws into their own brutal hands and annihilate Mexico in broad day light, making them top the group from nowhere. Today they face Switzerland, an intelligent team that takes care of the basics and on time too; let’s talk about Switzerland shall we? They were disciplined against Brazil and got the point they needed, they were clinical and decisive in patience against Serbia and they won late on, they tested fresh legs against Costa Rica, it didn’t hurt them so don’t expect them to take things easy with Sweden.
Sweden are used to disgracing bookmakers, they made it out of a group that had Argentina, England and Nigeria in 2002 as group winners and were bronze medallists in 1994, they shouldn’t be overlooked, the guts and resilience of this bunch deserves attention, in their skipper, Andreas Granqvist they have a brave warrior that never backs down, the duo of Emil Forsberg and Ola Toivonen have proven that they are ready for it every day, but what version of Switzerland will they face? This feels like the Croatia-Denmark affair one more time, they will cancel themselves out in midfield where Granit Xhaka and Valom Behrami will run the show, who wants it more?
Verdict: Switzerland to advance
Colombia vs England (July 3, 2018 7:00pm)
This feels like 1966 all over again for some people, stars seem to be aligning, major rivals dropping out like it’s hot, but hey… They should have at least played a draw with Belgium and be the ones to face Japan, not like it would have been easier as we saw the Japanese against Belgium. England has a solid squad to be honest, fleet footed forwards and a very clinical finisher, arguably the best in the world in Harry Kane but to what end? Colombia had a false start, early red card to Carlos Sanchez against Japan took the sails out of them and they lost, they proved their mettle against Poland and shipped three past the Europeans before dumping hapless Senegal out of the tournament with another effective win. England probably lost to Belgium on purpose, choosing to go down the easier route where they would avoid Brazil, France and Uruguay, but can they beat Colombia?
The opening day win for England was somewhat fortuitous, Ben Amor of Tunisia gifted them a corner kick when a strong clearance could have ended the game in a draw, they did ship six past panama in their second game but the fact that they conceded against such weaklings showed how susceptible they are, take nothing away from them, they deserve all the credits and their manager seem to be the best they’ve had in a long while but they won’t find Juan Quintero, Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao interesting today.
How will they line up? England will set up to feed Harry Kane through the flanks where they expect Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard to operate, the return of Dele Alli means there’s trouble for Colombia to deal with in the middle, the discipline of their full backs matter, if they’re caught out, the whole nation will be hurt.
Verdict: Colombia to advance