The final day of the round of 16 ended with the quarters finalists all being known after 2 very different, but intriguing matches!
Sweden and Switzerland started the day looking to both exceed expectations and book a place in the quarter final. The match was edgy and both teams spent a lot of time looking quite average. Neither side broke the deadlock before the break and you’d be forgiven for thinking this one had extra time all over it!
Midway through the second half Sweden were finally able to show some quality and Forsberg pulled through on what he’s been promising to do throughout the tournament and found the back of the net. This proved to be enough with Switzerland not being able to craft a good enough chance to get back into the game.
Neither side looked like world beaters and the unders market always looked pretty safe. Backers of Sweden will be happy though with the Scandinavians looking good value on the handicap market.
The second game of the day saw England take on Colombia and boy, was it a tempestuous and tense affair. Colombia seemed intent on trying to disturb England with physical play and this seemed to have an effect with the first half lacking a clear cut chance for either side.
The second half saw England begin to turn the screw and this eventually paid off when they were awarded a penalty, their third of the competition so far, when Kane was held by Sanchez in the box. Some rather suspect tactics came into play in the aftermath with the Colombian players surrounding the referee and scuffing the penalty spot to try and take the advantage away from Kane. The striker made no mistake however, scoring his 6th of the competition and putting England in control.
The one time World Cup winners lacked the killer edge though and looked a lot more passive in defending their lead. It looked as though they would battle to the final whistle but in the 92nd minute, following a world class save from Pickford, Colombian centre back, Mina, headed in from the resulting corner and sent the tie to extra time.
Neither team looked too threatening in the additional 30 minute and penalties arrived with an air of resignation for England. The first four spot kicks were superb with the teams being tied at 2-2 but Henderson’s spot kick was well saved and it looked as though Colombia would be making the next round when they converted their next penalty. A miss from Uribe, however, put the game back in the balance and sent things to sudden death for the final spot kicks. Pickford proved to be the hero, saving Bacca’s effort and giving Dier the chance to end the penalty hoodoo for England. The Spurs midfielder just about found the bottom corner and England were through to the quarters finals following a first penalty success since 1996.
There were certainly some tense moments but the Colombian goal would’ve bought joy for backers on the +0.5 market whilst also giving the backers on the unders market something to think about!
Lots of great shouts here. Forsberg for Sweden, Kane (who didn’t stop running) or Dier for England but the world class save from Pickford and the penalty success means the Hero of the Day has to go to the England number one!
Its hard to fault the Colombian game plan because it worked for long periods but head coach Peckerman has to be the Zero of the Day sending his side out not looking to play the football they were capable of but instead trying to turn the battle into a physical one.
The ref in the Sweden v Switzerland game did well albeit in an unremarkable way but Geiger, charged with leading the England v Colombia game, looked out of his depth at times, failed to control the game and got a couple of decisions horribly wrong.
The fans of all four countries can wake up today with their heads held high with all sets of supporters getting right behind their team until the end. There were tears for Switzerland and Colombia but the Sweden v England game on Saturday will be very interesting!
So we enter the quarter final stage on Friday (no games for 2 days, but don’t worry there are still plenty of opportunities on Colossus Bets with Wimbledon in full flow and British racing syndicates drawing nearer!) and by this time on Sunday we’ll know the final four in the World Cup. Will England be there? Can France and Brazil progress or will we see Belgium or Uruguay live up to their potential? Its getting exciting!