If you haven’t heard or seen a version of the England fans singing it’s coming home you must’ve been under a rock for the last month. The meme’s have enjoyed massive social media favour among the footballing fans of the World, some seriously believing that England will win the World Cup and of course, some mocking them for believing. If you haven’t seen the original .. it’s right at the bottom of the page.
Belgium – France
Belgium have not lost a game on their way to the semi. They beat a 2nd string England team with a second string line-up in the group stage before they had to come from behind to beat a plucky Japan team in the round of sixteen. Japan shocked the footballing world by going into a two nil lead before Belgium decided they actually wanted to progress. On the plus, side they turned it around inside the 90 minutes, running out 3-2 winners with a last minute team wonder goal.
The Quarter-Final match up with Brazil was a farce. The Belgians came to play with a clever plan and the Brazilians came with a plan to deceive. In footballing terms, Brazil were far superior. They created many more clear cut chances. They dominated play. They were actually superb but for the desire to roll around on the floor and ask for penalties and free kicks. Thibaut Courtois made countless saves to deny Brazil and should’ve had man of the match in my book. Two quick goals on the break set up a thrilling last 30 minutes with Brazil desperate to get back into the match. They managed to get one goal back and put in more dives than an Olympic diving athlete in a day’s training.
The French have improved steadily. They stuttered through the group stage without any impressive performances. In the round of 16 they suddenly sprang to life and put an underwhelming Argentina side to the sword. The score said 4-3 but in truth France were never going to lose once they took the lead. In the Quarter-Finals, they put another bunch of petulant South Americans out of their misery by eliminating the Uruguayans, who looked lost without Cavani.
What to expect:
More clever plans from Belgium, more wobbly goalkeeping from France. It’s a really tough match to call between two European neighbours. De Bruyne is class, so is Pogba. Lukaku is a beast in the air, Giroud is a brilliant in the air. Mehrtens can bend it like Beckham, so can Griezman. If anything, Courtois is a better goalkeeper than Lloris and on paper at least, the defenders are more consistent than Varane and Umtiti but it’s a World Cup Semi-Final, anything is possible.
Shew, I have changed my prediction a few times here. France are a team with history and know how to play in these big games, Belgium are arguably the better collection of players. In Pogba vs. De Bruyne we could have a game fit for the a World Cup Final, a United vs. City, a decider, but instead it will be only for the Semi-Final. I’m gonna give it to Belgium on a technical knock out
This feels like a proper high scoring game. The change in tactics in the last game shows that there might just be that little bit more about Belgiums and I think this could be the difference.
I would really like Belgium to make the final and yet I have no ill feelings towards France. What’s worse to live with, the arrogance of Hazard as a World Cup finalist and possible winner or Griezman in the same position after he rejected a move to United? 6 of one … I’d like Lukaku, one of the best players of the tournament, to score.
Croatia – England
Croatia’s standout performance was the 3-0 demolition of Argentina in the group matches. A sublime performance of class versus reputation, in which class also happened to bring work ethic, talent and desire while reputation showed up with a penchant for foul play. Croatia also beat Nigeria and Iceland to set up a last sixteen match with Denmark in which they failed to take advantage of their dominance and even missed an extra time penalty (Modric). In the Quarter-Final they were also considered to be the overwhelming favourites and yet could not put away the hosts, Russia, in 90 minutes. To be fair to Russia they have exceeded all expectations and provided one of the best matches of the whole World Cup losing out after penalties.
England started the World Cup off slowly, only managing to put Tunisia away with an extra time Kane goal. In round two they put six past Panama in the Battle of Nizhny Novgorod in which Kane scored two penalties and they probably could’ve been awarded another two. The match with Belgium was a non-event as both sides rested key players for the next round. In the round of 16 the English fought the Battle of Spartak in which Colombia were the luckiest team in football history in terms of behaviour versus red cards. Diego “on the side lines” Maradona called it a robbery, but based on recent TV footage, the ‘hand of God’ man was probably napping through much of the match or being propped up by a few handlers and probably facing the wrong way. Either way, England overcame their World Cup penalty hoodoo and marched on to face Sweden in the Quarters. Sweden ran out of ideas in the group stages and it looked like England decided to take it easy on them after getting a two goal cushion.
What to expect:
It’s really hard to predict what Croatia are going to bring to this match. They’ve played the most minutes out of all the teams left. They’ve managed to progress to the next round twice with penalties when expectations were that they would win easily. They outclassed Nigeria and completely outplayed Argentina and since then they seem to be on the decline. They’re hanging in there but only just. Mandzukic looked dead on his feet and but for the goalkeeper carrying an injury may have been subbed in the last two games. Perhaps it’s just me but they look tired. Perisic was subbed on the hour against Russia andModric won the Champions League this season. Is it just too many games for his almost 33 year old legs?
England have played the second most minutes of the last 4 but may have taken a positive from beating the penalty hoodoo. Perhaps they are starting to believe “It’s coming home” for the first time since 1966. One thing’s for sure, Raheem Sterling shouldn’t start. For a player who gets in that many good positions, his finishing is poor and his decision making is abysmal. England may only get one chance to win this match in normal time, they will have to be clinical and he hasn’t scored once yet in the tournament.
You know England are actually starting to believe and when you think of Leicester a few years back you can understand why. They look decent and Southgate is actually getting them to play with heart. I still think the quality of Croatia will be slightly higher, but they have struggled to make their quality count in the previous two games. So why not another penalty shootout.
Sorry England fans, I don’t think it’s coming home… Croatia’s midfield has too many options and too much creativity for the English to shut down. I think they will be finalists this year.
Harry Kane secures the Golden Boot with a penalty and the England fans start to talk about destiny and the end of 52 years of hurt. Also, Croatia looked tired and have played a lot of football coming into this game. Hopefully Rashford starts.