World Cup Semi Finals
Historical Overview Of The FIFA World Cup Semifinal Stage
The FIFA World Cup 2018 has been one of the most unpredictable and entertaining World Cups in history, with many upsets seen already. We are not even through with the quarter final stage and have already seen teams like Spain, Argentina and defending champions Germany knocked out, while emerging powers like Croatia and Belgium are dominating their way through their opponents. Even England, given a favourable draw, are now looking like on of the favourites to reach the semi final stage.
The World Cup Semifinals have produced some of the most intense and entertaining storylines down the years, as legends have been created and history rewritten. Lets take a look at some of the most high profile semi finals in recent World Cups.
2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinals
The 2014 FIFA World Cup saw one of the biggest shocks in the history of football, as hosts Brazil were completely decimated 7-1 by eventual champions Germany, at one of the homes of Brazilian football i.e. the Estadio Mineirao. The semifinal clash will go down as the darkest day in the history of Brazilian football, with more than 58000 fans collectively weeping at the final whistle. The Germans simply outplayed the hosts in every department, with Miroslav Klose further adding salt to the wounds by scoring and breaking local favourite Ronaldo’s all time World Cup scoring record of 15 goals.
While the first semifinal did not lack any drama, or goals, the second semi final was the complete opposite, as The Netherlands and Argentina cautiously played out a drab goalless draw over 120 minutes, to set up an intense penalty shooutout. Argentina proceeded to score all 4 of their penalties while Vlaar and Sneijder missed for the Oranje, taking Lionel Messi to his maiden World Cup Final.
In the resulting 3rd place match, The Netherlands thrashed Brazil 3-0 to further add to the woes of the home fans.
World Cup Semi Final 2010
The first semifinal of the 2010 World Cup was one of the most exciting knockout matches in recent times, with the Netherlands overcoming a spirited Uruguayan side 3-2. With the game locked at 1-1, the Dutch stalwarts Sneijder and Robben scored in quick succession to take the game away from the South Americans, who could only scored an injury time consolation goal to make the scoreline look respectable. The Netherlands qualified for their 3rd final with this win, with captain Von Bronckhorst’s stunning long range opening goal voted as the goal of the tournament.
The second semifinal was between the 2 giants of European Football i.e. Spain and Germany. As expected, both these teams set out defensively and played a cautious game of football. However, the deadlock was broken when Barcelona’s inspirational captain Carles Puyol rose highest to meet a corner and plant a perfect header in the top corner in the 73rd minute, to score the only goal of the match. Despite his tiny frame, Puyol leaped tremendously to tower over the huge German defenders, for a priceless moment in Spanish football history. The goal sent Spain to their first ever World Cup final, a match they went on to win for their maiden title.
In the resulting 3rd place match, Germany squared off against Uruguay for another nail-biting clash, which the Europeans won with a 82nd minute winner from Sami Khedira, to make the score 3-2.
World Cup Semi Final 2006
The 2006 FIFA World Cup, held in Germany, saw all 4 European teams in the semifinals for the 4th time. Hosts Germany faced Italy in a gripping tie infront of 65000 home fans in Dortmund, in a match that can be classified as a defensive masterclass from both teams. Goalless in 90 minutes, the match looked set to go to penalties before the Italians suddenly came to life, scoring not one but two dramatic goals in the dying minutes of extra time to secure a place in the final. The Germans were heartbroken, while the Italian defence came out on top again, as they eventually went on to lift the trophy as well.
The other semifinal, between Portugal and France was also a very tight defensive game, surprising considering both these teams were famous for their attack. There wasn’t much to separate these sides, until the 33rd minute when France got a penalty, which was duly converted by their talismanic skipper Zidane. That proved to be the only goal of the game as Les Bleus managed to hold on for a memorable semifinal victory and entered the final.
In the 3rd place playoff, Germany overcame Portugal with a dominating 3-1 performance, aided by a Schweinsteiger brace.
Other Notable Semifinal Stories
The first ever FIFA World Cup held in Asia, the 2002 tournament saw some of the biggest upsets in history. A testament to that fact was that South Korea and Turkey managed to reach the semifinals against all odds, to face regulars Germany and Brazil respectively. Not only did these comparative minnows reach the semis, but they also held their own against the eventual finalists. Germany had a very tough time getting past the Korean defence, while Turkey actually threatened the Brazilian goal on several occasions. Both these clashes were decided by a single goal each, with Korea and Turkey both bowing out but winning millions of hearts in the process.
The 1982 second Semifinal saw an unusually high number of goals scored in the extra time of a knockout match. With France and West Germany tied at 1-1 within 90 minutes, the game was brought to life with 2 splendid goals by France. However, despite just a few minutes left the Germans never gave up and remarkably came back with two goals of their own to make it 3-3 and force a penalty shootout, which they went on to win 5-4, to complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in history.
The 1970 World Cup Semifinal was a step ahead, with Germany equalizing in the dying minutes of normal time to make it 1-1 against a resilient Italian side. The extra time saw one of the most famous goal-laden periods of play ever seen in a world cup semifinal, with 5 goals being scored in the next 30 minutes as Italy held on for a memorable 4-3 victory.
FIFA World Cup 2018 Semifinals
After 3 weeks of unbelievable action, shocking upsets, world-class goals and emotions running high, we finally have our final 4 teams of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
The first semi final will be held between France and Belgium, and will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, on 10th July, at 11:30 PM Indian time.
The second semifinal will be held between Croatia and England, and will be played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, at 11:30 PM Indian time.
France vs Belgium
Two of the biggest teams in Europe go head to head in a blockbuster of a semi final on 10th July in St Petersburg. Many fans would have preferred to see these two teams squaring off in the final, instead of the semifinal. Belgium have won all 5 of their matches to be the only side with a 100% record at this tournament, while France are riding high after back to back victories over mighty South American opponents Argentina and Uruguay. This promises to be one of the matches of the tournament, with plenty of goals expected, as both these sides are known primarily for their potent attacks. From the betting perspective, we strongly recommend betting on both teams to score, as well as there being more than 2.5 goals scored in this match. France may prove to have too much quality at the end, but Belgium proved their mettle by convincingly beating Brazil in the quarters too, hence, this game is as unpredictable as it gets. Read here for the full prediction and odds of France vs Belgium.
Croatia Vs England
Both these teams faced a relatively easier run to the semifinals, compared to the other 2 semifinalists. While Croatia had a tough time negotiating through Denmark and Russia via penalties, England were given a test of their own against Colombia, before comfortably dispatching Sweden in the quarter final. These two teams have built an intense rivalry in recent years, especially since Croatia beat England in a decisive qualifier and took their place at the 2008 UEFA Euro Championships. This match promises to be a very compact affair, as both these teams have worked hard on their defence. They both have conceded just 3 goals so far, and have already experienced penalty shootouts in this tournament. We expect a tight game and would advise betting on the under 2.5 goals market. England have looked more convincing and a narrow win for the Three Lions is expected in this clash. Read here for the full prediction and odds of Croatia vs England.