Earlier, I’ve predicted all 4 group winners Portugal, Croatia, Holland and Spain to progress to the semis. However, other than Spain, the other 3 quarter-finals produced upsets when all 3 group runner-ups upstaged the group winners to progress!
These strange results wreaked havoc to my predictions and threaten to put my dream of being a football pundit at a backburner, not to mention making my wallet feel that much lighter.
The semi-finals matchups are as follows:
Russia vs Spain
The semi-finals are a different ball game and much more difficult to predict as there are no more favorites or underdogs left in the knock-out stage. As a neutral, I would love to see a Russia vs Turkey Finals but my head tells me that dream is quite unrealistic based on current form and unavailability of key players through injuries and suspensions.
With Turkey’s squad being decimated to only 15 players who are fit (injury-free) and eligible to play (suspension-free), the coach has even considered playing reserve goalkeeper as an outfield player! In this regards, Germany (with their strength and experience) will have an advantage over Turkey. But with their triple comeback wins, does anyone dare to write them off?
The other semi-final matchup between Russia and Spain is much tougher to call. Spain had thrashed Russia 4-1 in the first group game and will have a psychological advantage here. But the Russians have since grown in strength and confidence, you should see how they peeled the Oranje apart, anything can happen here. My head says a Spanish victory but my heart goes out to dark horse Russia. I’m going to stick my neck out for a Russia win.