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Russia 2018 has been a captivating tournament with only one goalless draw in the group stage, and a thrilling round of 16 that threw up plenty of shocks.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may no longer be in town but there will still be plenty of stars on show in the quarter-finals, from Neymar to Luis Suarez, and Eden Hazard to Antoine Griezmann.

So let’s take a look at what’s coming up this weekend:

Uruguay v France

Friday, July 6

Nizhny Novgorod

Head-to-head: Uruguay 2 wins, France 1 win, 4 draws

If World Cup history is anything to go by, this one won’t be a classic – France and Uruguay have shared two 0-0 draws at the tournament, in 2002 and 2010. The South American side also beat the Europeans 2-1 in 1966.

But that will all go out the window on Thursday, and we should be in for an entertaining match with the tournament’s meanest defence up against France’s lively attack.

Kylian Mbappe announced himself on the international stage with a double in France’s 4-3 win against Argentina in the last 16, and Griezmann showed signs he is starting to fire.

Uruguay have conceded just one goal in four games, but with Edinson Cavani an injury doubt the burden will fall on Suarez to perform more heroics.

That could mean Uruguay sit back even more than usual and try to contain France, hoping to catch them on the counter attack. France are fancied, but Uruguay are no mugs and could pull off the shock.

Brazil v Belgium

Saturday, July 7


Head-to-head: Brazil 3 wins, Belgium 1 win

The sides haven’t met since 2002, when Brazil beat the Belgians 2-0 in the last 16 thanks to goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldo.

It is Neymar who has taken up the mantle for the Selecao from that duo, and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is starting to fire after a slow start to the tournament.

Belgium scraped through after coming back from two goals down against Japan on Monday while Brazil broke down a stubborn Mexico side thanks to a Neymar goal and assist.

Roberto Martinez’s side will have to step things up if the “Golden Generation” are to finally win a tournament.

They’ve scored more goals (12) than any team at the tournament, while Brazil have conceded the least goals (1). Something’s got to give, but the goals have dried up for Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku after doubles in each of his first two games.

Sweden v England

Saturday, July 7


Head-to-head: Sweden 7 wins, England 8 wins, 9 draws

These two sides are no strangers to each other. They shared group stage draws at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, while England edged a five-goal thriller in the groups at the 2012 European Championship – before Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored that goal in a 4-2 friendly win for the Swedes five months later.

Zlatan got all four goals that night the last time the two teams met, but Sweden didn’t feel the need to call on his services in Russia.

It seems to be working out just fine for them, but Sweden still look a little light up front and could struggle to trouble England’s backline.

England have conceded one goal in each of their four matches, three of them from set plays – an area where Sweden will look to take advantage.

Gareth Southgate’s side will come into the match riding a huge wave of optimism after securing England’s first World Cup penalty shoot-out win, and Harry Kane is leading the race for the Golden Boot with six goals – though Sweden have a miserly defence that has shipped just one goal in four matches.

Russia v Croatia

Sunday, July 8


Head-to-head: Croatia 1 win, 2 draws

Croatia won the most recent meeting between the two sides, a 3-1 friendly victory in November 2015, and are heavy favourites against the hosts, despite Russia’s heroics against Spain.

Luka Modric and Co needed penalties to beat Denmark – after Modric himself missed a penalty in extra time that would’ve wrapped things up.

The performance summed up the hit and miss nature of this Croatia side, who can dazzle in one game and drive their fans to despair in the next.

Russia were supposed to provide easy opposition for 2010 champions Spain, but put in a dogged display to win on penalties after trailing 1-0.

The hosts are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament but have been greater than the sum of their parts.

Russia will look to continue to ride a wave of national optimism in front of a raucous crowd, but this could be one step too far.

Appointed by CAF President Dr.Ahmad as CAF Media Expert. An expert on African football with over 13 years experience ,always with an ear to the ground with indepth knowledge of the game. I have worked for top publications including 7 years at until i founded to quench the thirst of football lovers across the continent. I have trained young upcoming journalists who are now a voice in African football.I have covered World Cup,AFCON,CHAN,Champions League,Confederations Cup,Cecafa,Cosafa,Wafu and many other football tournaments across the World. Founder Football Africa Arena(FAA),Founder

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