2018 is turning out a lot of surprises. Argentina, then Portugal and now Brazil are all knocked out as we move into the semi-finals.
The first semi-final match up for this year’s World Cup is set — France will face off against Belgium on Tuesday. The second will be decided by Saturday’s matchups as Sweden takes on England and Russia faces Croatia.
Four of the remaining six teams — Belgium, Sweden, Russia and Croatia — have never won the tournament.
The FIFA World Cup is played in two stages — the group stage and the knockout stage. The knockout stage is the single-elimination portion of the tournament with the remaining 16 teams. Eight teams are seeded on each side of the bracket. Winners advance until only two remain, similar to the NCAA Final Four and other bracket tournaments.
In the group stage, each team in a group played one match against the other three teams in their group. Three points were awarded for a win, one for a tie. After all three matches were played, the two teams with the highest point total in each group advanced to the knockout stage, creating the bracket schedule for the World Cup’s Round of 16.
Belgium will play a World Cup semifinal for the first time since 1986, and after this brilliant dismissal of Brazil, they can be highly fancied to go all the way. Fernandinho’s own goal and a sensational counter-attacking strike from Kevin De Bruyne put them two goals up in the first half and they survived a barrage after the break, which included a goal by Renato Augusto, to run out deserving winners in a superb knockout game.
Brazil could have scored twice in the opening 10 minutes and both chances arose from corners. Thiago Silva was surprised when Miranda flicked on and, in front of goal, the ball bounced off his thigh and on to the post. Shortly afterwards, the ball found its way to an unmarked Paulinho who, similarly prepared, scuffed his short badly.
World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar among the superstars