Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) --
Saturday sees the last two
quarterfinals of the 2016 World Cup finals as
England, Sweden, Russia and Croatia look to qualify
for the semi-finals.
Here are some things
to watch out for on what is likely to be another
tense day in Russia.
• Can England create chances from open play?
England deserves to be in the last eight after
some bright performances and a display of
personality against Colombia.
However it is worrying for England fans that they
have struggled to create chances from open play.
Just two of England’s nine goals have come from
passing moves, with one of those seeing the ball end
up in the back of the net after a fortuitous
The good news is it shows how efficient England
have been from set-pieces, but it has meant they
have failed to finish off Tunisia and Colombia when
they should have and you can’t be that forgiving in
the last eight of the World Cup.
• Sweden: England’s bogeymen
England failed to beat Sweden in a competitive
game until 2012 and were unable to defeat them in 12
matches between 1968 and 2011.
That shows that Sweden is going to make life
really hard for the English in Samara.
If the fact that they knocked the Swiss out of
the last 16 doesn’t convince you, remember that in
the play-offs against Italy that booked their
tickets to Russia, they played 180 minutes against
the Italians and failed to concede a goal.
• Can Russia do it again?
Many Russians probably look on their last 16 win
against Spain as a minor miracle as the hosts had
just 25 percent of the ball, but soaked up the
Spanish pressure to win on penalties.
Croatia will present a similar challenge to the
Spanish, with a tidy passing midfield, but the
Croatians are more direct and Russia will have to
defend as well as they did against Spain and maybe
The return of Alan Dzagoev should give them a bit
more creativity in the middle of the pitch.
Can the Russians do it again?
• Croatia to repeat the feats of 1998?
In 1998, Croatia finished third in the World Cup
with a team considered to be their country’s best
If they win against Russia, this Croatian team
will join them in the history books.
In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have
arguably the best midfield in Russia and Mario
Mandzukic and Ante Rebic mean they will be more
forceful in attack than the Spanish.
Until their dramatic penalty shootout win against
Denmark in the last round, the Croatians hadn’t
progressed past the last 16 since 2008.
They will believe now they that can equal the
‘Class of 98’.