World Cup 2018 Predictions: Latest Picks Based on Quarter-Final OddsJuly 6, 2018
While they were not involved in the most spectacular of games in the first knockout round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Brazil are the favourites to win the prize in Russia at the quarter-final stage.
They may be in what is generally accepted as the tougher half of the bracket, but the Selecao have been getting steadily better in this tournament. The 2-0 win over Mexico in the round of 16, in which Neymar and Roberto Firmino were on the scoresheet, was another step forward.
To continue their progression they will need to overcome a cavalier Belgium side on Friday.
Earlier in the day, France meet Uruguay in what has the potential to be another cracker.
Saturday sees host nation Russia back in action against a talented Croatia team, with England's meeting with Sweden preceding that.
Read on for the latest odds for the quarter-finals and tournament winners, as well as a preview of what's to come over what should be an absorbing two days.
Uruguay (333-100), Draw (21-10), France (19-20)*
Brazil (27-25)*, Draw (43-20), Belgium (43-20)
England (77-100)*, Draw (61-25), Sweden (387-100)
Russia (289-100), Draw (21-10), Croatia (32-25)*
*Picks to win
Outright Winner Odds
All figures courtesy of OddsShark
Brazil Set for Thrilling Clash with Belgium
Of all the quarter-final matches, there is one that jumps off the page immediately, and that's Brazil's meeting with Belgium.
The Red Devils are just about still in the tournament after they came from two goals down against Japan, and they have the attacking potency to cause issues for anyone with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in their squad.
Brazil have attacking gems of their own in Neymar, Willian, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho. Yet you sense their extra defensive rigidity will give them an edge in this one.
As noted by Martin Laurence of WhoScored, the Selecao have protected their goalkeeper expertly:
The same goes for Uruguay, who will be seeking to tame France's attacking riches with their rock-solid defence earlier on Friday.
La Celeste's centre-back pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Giminez have been titanic in their defensive work, with the familiarity they've struck up down the years at Atletico Madrid shining through in Russia.
In a potential boost for France and a blow for Uruguay, three-goal striker Edinson Cavani is likely to miss out because of injury, according to ESPN FC.
As noted below, strike partner Luis Suarez admitted the loss of the Paris Saint-Germain star will be a setback:
France will be without Blaise Matuidi due to suspension, although Didier Deschamps does have a lot more depth available to him. Uruguay's preparations will surely focus on how to tame the vibrant Antoine Griezmann and the scintillating Kylian Mbappe.
In the other side of the draw, England will seek to keep their dreams of glory alive against a dogged Sweden.
While the Swedes have impressed with their defensive determination and all-round cohesion, the Three Lions have a poacher extraordinaire in Harry Kane, and that counts for so much at this stage of the tournament. He's on course to win the Golden Boot, having already hit the back of the net six times.
Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday put his goalscoring feats into some historical context:
Somewhat fittingly, it will be the host nation who finish off the quarter-final fixtures, as Russia seek to build on their superhuman defensive display against Spain with a win over Croatia.
The latter were a little nervy when they took on Denmark in their knockout clash, as they put their supporters through a tense penalty shootout to ensure progression.
While there's no doubt the home crowd will embolden the Russia team, Croatia should be too strong if they perform to their best.