To say the World Cup 2018 is dramatic would be an understatement. It’s a game of firsts and upsets:
- The first time Russia – and an Eastern European nation – has hosted a World Cup,
- The first time an Asian country – Japan – beats a South American team – Colombia because;
- ‘Fair Play’, deployed for he first time, allowed team Japan to advance because they had less yellow cards than Croatia;
- The first time fan favourites Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and Italy did not reach the quarter finals – the first two eliminated in the round of 16, the former world champion in the group, and Italy not even qualifying for the World Cup;
- The first time Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been used, resulting in what’s regarded as the World Cup with the most fouls
Add to that Argentina’s superstar Messi’s spectacular and costly missed penalty against Iceland, and the various players’ (we’re all looking at you, Neymar) theatrical injuries, this is a World Cup of upheavals and unpredictability.
Review: So How Were Those Quarter-Finals?
1. France vs Uruguay
Last Saturday’s showdown saw France defend their standing as a World Cup-worthy team against Uruguay. Uruguay emerged as a worthy underdog to the quarterfinals, but were no match against Les Bleus whose team dominated the game with characteristic efficiency.
The match ended 2 – 0 with goals scored in the 40th and 61st minutes of the game. Uruguay gave it its best with frustrating near goals, though pundits claim that the South Americans would have had a better chance if Edinson Cavani – sitting out the game to nurse a calf injury – had been in play.
2. Belgium vs Brazil
The next match saw fan favourite Brazil eliminated in a 1 – 2 upset against Belgium, marking an end to the South American’s theatrics in the World Cup. Belgium’s win was, perhaps, unexpected and even a little freaky, but the team had deployed a novel style and strategy this with mixed results; this most recent game’s conclusion was what ultimately mattered.
Technically, they were sound, and the combination of skilful players and a top-notch goalkeeper brought them to victory with two goals before halftime. Brazil managed to score in the 76th minute but were unable to catch up in time.
Neymar’s flopping will be missed.
3. England vs Sweden
Embattled England, featuring a young team of newcomers, made it through to the semis the first time after 28 years after beating Sweden 2 – 0. It was, by all accounts, a rather calm game with minimal flailing on the pitch. However, many did not appreciate England’s stalling later in the game. England’s play had been less than impressive – a running theme when they’re pitched in an international arena – and their somewhat unsportsmanlike behaviour in past matches had not won them many favours, but they managed to pull through.
Harder tests, pundits say, is yet to come.
4. Croatia vs Russia
One of the tenser quarterfinal matches – but really, which quarterfinal isn’t? – saw Croatia beat Russia 4 to 3 on penalties after a nail-biting 2 – 2 score that saw goals both in the extra 30-minute time afforded when the initial 90 minutes ended in 1 – 1 draw. Russia had emerged strong in previous games and many were rooting for the home team, but Croatia came out on top. Croatia had also advanced from the round of 16 on penalties against Denmark last Monday – the first team to do so consecutively since Argentina’s performance in 1990.
Croatia had beat fan favourite Argentina in the group round, and many are excited to see what the team will bring in the semi-finals.
Predictions: Who Will Win?
Right now it’s hard to say. France has experience; Belgium, quality gameplay; Croatia as the surprised ‘underdogs’; and England has, perhaps, luck on its side.
Earlier predictions using Artificial Intelligence systems proposed big wins for the giants Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and Germany – but we all know how that turned out. The Japanese octopus, Rabiot, which predicted the group stage matches was already sold and eaten, and beloved imperial palace feline and World Cup clairvoyant, Baidianr of Beijing, passed away before seeing the matches to the quarterfinals. If you’re still holding out hope for an animal prediction, there’s still the parrot and camel, but their accuracy cannot be vouched for.
If 2018 is anything to go by, you’ll have to expect the unexpected.
Are You Ready For The Semi-Finals?
France will be going against Belgium on July 11 – a Wednesday – and England plays Croatia on the 12th – a Thursday. Here’s the kicker: they’re both at 2:00am. Earlier games were at a more reasonable 8, 10, or 11pm with one or two in the wee morning hours.
An estimated 50% of the workforce of any country want to watch the game, and USD 14.5 billion of GDP worldwide could be lost due to lowered productivity just within the first two weeks of the World Cup. With so much at stake in this stage of the game, you’ll likely be joining the boards of fans skipping work (or calling in sick) to catch the game.
If you haven’t bought into the SGD 112 or so bundled World Cup package offered by your TV service providers, there are various venues screening the matches for free. This includes:
- The People’s Association community centres;
- Terminal 3 events area in Changi airport;
- SAFRA clubs, open to all (but club members get special seating);
- HomeTeamNS clubhouses at Balestier, Bukit Batok, and Sembawang; and
- OCBC Square
Pubs and eateries will also be screening matches, including everyone’s favourite McDonald’s. But you’ll have to be a diner (or at least fork out some cash for coffee to get you through the 2:00am kickoff) to enjoy the match.
Perhaps the most comfortable venue is still your home. It’s filled with all sorts of creature comforts to get you through the high-octane action after all, including a familiar couch, as much food and water as you need, and the liberating option of watching a million dollar match in your pyjamas. Plus you can use the bathroom without the risk of losing your seat.
If everyone’s going to be taking a sick day this Friday to watch the final showdown, why not make it an event? Stock up on those Old Chang Kee treats and bottles of those indulgent Starbucks Coffee and huddle near your TV with friends and family to cheer on your favourite (or second favourite since preferred teams are already out).
Leave Your Worries At Bay
Lastly, don’t worry about cleaning up. You can always count on Kaodim – and our professional cleaners who didn’t stay up until 4am – to do that for you.
Also, nothing annoys more than an underperforming aircon while enjoying the action in your living room. If your aircon is getting old and cranky, get it fixed soon before the games begin!
Most importantly, did we mention that from now till just before the kick-off, you stand a chance to win a pair of movie tickets by participating in #GuessTheChamp? Just apply the promo code representing the eventual champions before 11pm on 15 July and if you guessed correctly, your chance is here! Anyhow, you’ll get $20 off the participating services no matter the result 🙂