World Cup Bracket 2018: Predictions, Odds and Picks Entering Friday Play

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 6, 2018

(COMBO) This combination of photos created on July 4, 2018 shows Belgium's forward Eden Hazard in Sochi on June 18, 2018 (L) and Brazil's forward Neymar in Samara on July 2, 2018. - Brazil will face Belgium in their Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on July 6, 2018. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA and Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA,FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Eight teams remain in the hunt for 2018 FIFA World Cup glory in Russia, and the first batch of quarter-finalists will contest their right to a place in the last four on Friday.

Uruguay will face France hoping to build on their win over Portugal, before Brazil meet Belgium in a close-run battle between two of the pre-tournament favourites.

The Selecao entered the competition as the most fancied side and have thus far looked good, having won their last three games in succession 2-0, the most recent of which was a victory over Mexico.

Uruguay may have ousted the reigning champions of Europe in the round of 16, but France are gathering confidence and most recently knocked out Argentina with a 4-3 win.

Here's how the bracket is shaping up heading into the quarter-finals:

B/R Football @brfootball

Is it the quarter-finals yet? https://t.co/PAbA7A6oWR


Friday Schedule, Predictions

Uruguay 2-1 France, 5 p.m. local time/3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET

Brazil 2-3 Belgium AET, 9 p.m. local time/7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET


Friday's Match Odds

Uruguay (3-1), Draw (21-10), France (19-20)

Brazil (27-25), Draw (43-20), Belgium (43-20)

All odds courtesy of OddsShark.


Bruised Belgium and Underdogs Uruguay to Advance

After a relatively routine run to the summit of Group G, including a 1-0 win over England's reserves, Belgium were more seriously tested when they were forced to come back from two down to beat Japan in the round of 16.

Uncomfortable though that was, it's an examination that should prime the Red Devils for a meeting with Tite's Brazil, who arrived in Kazan on Thursday ahead of what will also be their biggest test yet, via AFP:

AFP news agency @AFP

VIDEO: Neymar, Marcelo, Thiago Silva and the rest of the Brazil 🇧🇷 team arrive at their hotel in Kazan on the eve of their #WorldCup quarter-final clash against Belgium 🇧🇪 https://t.co/rvliw00DBm

The clash has been touted as a head-to-head between the World Cup's in-form defence, Brazil—they have conceded only once in four games thus far—and Belgium, the highest scorers in the tournament with 12.

That being said, Roberto Martinez's men still have some improvements to make in their attack, led by Manchester United star Romelu Lukaku, as Sky Sports noted they're also the most profligate side left:

Sky Sports World Cup @SkyFootball

📊 ENGLAND VS QF RIVALS 📊 How do England's stats compare with Brazil, France, Belgium, Croatia, Uruguay, Russia and Sweden? https://t.co/5O7PM6t2rt https://t.co/2jw0QW04lH

Mexico had their chances to make their mark against the Selecao but ultimately lacked the necessary quality up front; Belgium don't have those same concerns. 

While Eden Hazard and Yannick Carrasco look to get at the potentially susceptible Brazil full-backs, there will be a war between Paris Saint-Germain team-mates that Neymar may not top, via Goal:

Goal @goal

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has watched Thomas Meunier stop Neymar before - he's confident he can do it again when Belgium take on Brazil Exclusive interview with @petermstaunton https://t.co/jHaq5l6RZw

Thomas Meunier was one of Belgium's most impressive stars in attack and defence in the Japan win, and he could have a say on Friday's result.

Over at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Uruguay will be underdogs against France but have the tools to break down their opposition.

Get French Football News highlighted how there will also be some familiar rivalries in this quarter-final, with a selection of Uruguayans out for redemption against Les Bleus:

Get French Football News @GFFN

France beat Uruguay in 2013 in the U20s World Cup final. 9 players will be involved again 5 years on, during Friday's action. France: Areola, Umtiti, Pogba & Thauvin Uruguay: Varela, Silva, Laxalt, Gimenez & De Arrascaeta https://t.co/d8BaacBD12

ESPN's Diego Munoz reported Edinson Cavani could be missing for Uruguay in what would be a huge blow, but not one they can't recover from, with Girona's Cristhian Stuani the favourite to replace him. 

Their defence will trouble France's forwards most, and Tifo Football analysed the approach that's got Oscar Tabarez's side to this stage of the competition:

The goal they conceded against Portugal last time out was the first they've leaked at this tournament, and Antoine Griezmann will have a job outwitting Atletico Madrid team-mates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, who will line up in central defence for Uruguay.

Uruguay are a better-run, superior team to the Argentina side that dropped to France on Saturday, and their tenacious midfield has the capacity to rumble France's plans, with Luis Suarez looking to add to his two goals in Russia.