England (2) advances to the semi-finals with two heads over Sweden (0)
The objective is to win and advance and England did just that so credit to England. Were they really that good? Not really. It’s more that the Swedes are not that good and were ill prepared for the English game. The English game needs an overhaul. Just cross and head is not going to do it against a Belgium or a Brazil for that matter. England had 2 shots on target and scored on both which sounds great but not enough to make it to the final. Raheem Sterling should practice converting empty net penalty kicks. Lots of energy and drive but no finishing in front of net and consistent with his performance for Manchester City. Why would he be starting ahead of Rashford is a real mystery. Pickford made a key save at a crucial time in the match that saved England real headache. The Swedes should have been better prepared for the cross and head English tactics. They had the height advantage but not the organization. Harry Kane did little and had no service a situation that will have to be rectified against a stronger side (if it is Croatia) or a more aggressive side (if it is Russia)
Croatia (2) ends Russia’s (2) Cinderella journey with one penalty kick
Those (mainly North Americans) who criticize Soccer as a boring sport must not have watched this match. Croatia the more talented and technically superior team could not crack the resolve of a highly determined and purposeful Russia which ended one kick short of advancing to the semi-final. Croatia started to celebrate in overtime when it took the advantage with the second headed goal by Vida but resolute Russia came back 15 minutes later to tie and send the match to a penalty kick shootout. Croatia was by all accounts the better team owing to the efforts of Luca Modric who almost single handedly brought about Croatia’s win. He was brilliant in mid field a little deeper than he is used to play for Real Madrid and directed the transition from defense to offence to perfection and missed only two of the hundreds of passes he distributed too team mates. In the final analysis though it was the bravery and competency of the injured goaltender Subacic who was seriously injured late in regulation time but remained in the game to the very end, made two critical saves from open play in overtime and of course saved a penalty kick in the shootout. Russia deserves credit for not sitting back to soak Croatia’s pressure but responded with threatening attacks of its own and had a chance to win the match before the shootout. The end to end action and the constant tension even for the non-partisan fan made this match a joy to watch.