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Their players come mostly from the Russian league, which might not be such an advantage after all. Also, the pressure is huge and competition fierce, especially from Egypt. Even if they have a couple of players on the top of European football, their effort when it matters has been lacking and the overall quality is not what the odds would suggest.
The betting market believes Croatia to head to top with They have also been expected to challenge for some time now, but ended up pretty much with nothing. The Senegalese only have No Zlatan, no chance.
In AccuScore simulations, Sweden falls dead last in their group, with only If the group stage plays out as predicted by AccuScore simulations, most of the big favorites avoid each other in the round of For example, if Portugal and Spain trade places, either Spain or Uruguay would be out after the first knockout stage. According to simulations, the first playoff stage won't yield any surprises.
Namely Russia, Denmark and Croatia. If AccuScore group stage simulations are in fact gospel, here are the pairs for the Round of As we all know penalties in football can be tricky, but in general the better team wins. Argentina and Spain have the easiest task ousting Denmark and Russia respectively, while Germany and Colombia have tough time against Serbia and England. Moving forward in the knockout stage, we finally get some surprising results. One of the biggest favorites, France will take on Uruguay and the South Americans prevail with around 60 percent probability.
Other pairs finish up with similar numbers, with Brazil beating Belgium, Germany sending Colombia home and Argentina besting Spain. When only the top four remain, the games get tougher and tougher. The Brazilians performed admirably all around, even if the antics of Neymar once again caused some uproar.
Until now, though, they have yet to be tested by a world-class, offensive team. If Brazil strolled past Mexico, then Belgium had to push had to get its result against Japan.
The defense was shaky as the Belgians fell behind by halftime. Japan hit back hard on the counterattack and at times confused the Belgians while controlling the play. Belgian goals were hard to come by until a couple of substitutions in the 65th minute and a more straightforward offense led to two goals in five minutes.
The go-ahead goal came from a fast counterattack in the final seconds. Both teams love the ball and like to play offense, so this should be an entertaining, even match with each team scoring a couple of goals. Belgium, surprisingly has more in-form weapons on offense; Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus has yet to score in the tournament.
Not having the suspended Casemiro in the bottom of the midfield will be a blow, however. Accuscore simulations show a 52 percent probability of Belgium surprising Brazil. Sweden has pushed through to the top eight despite being counted out various times before and during the tournament. The squad's tactics have been top-notch and it is playing to its strengths.
As long as their game plan holds and they're able to keep their net untouched, anything is possible. That is exactly what happened in their narrow victory over Switzerland. The young Three Lions did what was deemed impossible; win a penalty shootout in the World Cup.
Manager Gareth Southgate has a lot to think about before this match: England will have its work cut out for it to break through and not leave its back exposed to the counterattacks Sweden is likely to try to create. This is a tough matchup for England, but it should have the offensive prowess to do what Switzerland couldn't, which is to create a goal or two. That, in turn, would force Sweden out of its comfort zone and into the attack.
Accuscore simulations indicate, with 77 percent probability, that Sweden's run will end and England will qualify. The Russians held their ground while being pounded by Spain for minutes the Spaniards had the ball for 75 percent of the match and then got the prize after two saved penalties by Igor Akinfeev.
Making the top eight is an unbelievable achievement — they were half expected to fall in the group stage. Their next opponent is likely to exploit their slow defense and all the space in the midfield much more effectively than Spain did. Croatia recovered quickly from a nightmare start to its match vs. Denmark and took control. From there it was a tough battle all over the field with nothing fancy from either side.
Striker Mario Mandzukic finally found the net, and he figures to be aggressive against the Russian defense.
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