Jesse Lingard of England celebrates.

We preview the World Cup quarter-finals as the globe’s best eight teams prepare for battle...

Uruguay vs France: Friday 16:00

Prepare for a contrast of styles because Uruguay’s Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez have conceded just once in Russia and they face a French team boasting plenty of attacking flair. After a sluggish start to the tournament, France finally hit their stride in the 4-3 win over Argentina in the last 16.


Players to watch: Luis Suarez’s influence will be needed with usual strike partner Edinson Cavani out injured. Kylian Mbappe is just 19 but the Frenchman scored twice against Argentina last time out, underscoring his credentials as one of the best young players in the world.


Brazil vs Belgium: Friday, 20:00

The Brazilians have yet to click despite having more shots on target than any other team. Belgium survived a scare against Japan in the round of 16, a match that showed that Roberto Martinez hasn’t settled on either his best starting XI or tactics.


Players to watch: Brazil are likely to select Fernandinho to replace the suspended Casemiro in midfield and he will have the job of marking his Manchester City team-mate Kevin de Bruyne, who is Belgium’s playmaker and best player.  


Sweden vs England: Saturday, 16:00

Gareth Southgate’s side needed penalties to advance against Colombia and have been overly reliant on Harry Kane to bag the goals. Sweden are a well-organised team that seem to be better in the post-Zlatan era. The Scandinavians have conceded just two goals--both to Germany--in the tournament and are a solid defensive unit.


Players to watch: Jesse Lingard has a knack of finding space in the attacking third but needs to improve his final ball and shooting to take the pressure off Kane. Sebastian Larsson spent more than a decade playing in England and his dangerous left foot and experience are vital to Sweden.


Russia vs Croatia: Saturday, 20:00

The host nation have exceeded all expectations to reach the quarter-finals, while Croatia’s near defeat to Denmark would have been a miscarriage of footballing justice as they have been among the best teams in the tournament.


Players to watch: Aleksandr Golovin is the creative force for Russia and with two assists and a goal is the clear dangerman. Luka Modric is Croatia’s star man but he is only given licence due to the robust efforts of Ivan Rakitic in a deeper midfield role.


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