SANTA MONICA — The field has narrowed, and the final eight are set. It wasn’t an easy feat for many teams in the World Cup, but Uruguay, France, Brazil, Belgium, Russia, Croatia, Sweden and England did what they came to do and moved on to the quarter-finals.
However, for Russia, Croatia and England, it almost didn’t happen. Russia struggled against Spain in its round of 16 game but managed to hold them off until the end. Spain danced circles around the Russians, going 9 for 23 shots on goal and recording 90 percent accuracy on 1,115 passes, five fouls and six corners. Russia couldn’t compete, going 1 for 7 and recording 65 percent on its 291 passes, 19 fouls and five corners. Despite Russia’s struggles though, it was able to hold Spain off 1-1 and head into penalty kicks. Russia claimed four-straight penalty kicks while Spain’s Koke and Iago Aspas missed two too many, handing Russia its win.
But Croatia and Denmark while looking similar was a much closer match, but this time Croatia was the better team. Croatia put six of its 20 shots on goal while maintain 54 percent of the possession. However, it wasn’t always going Croatia’s way. Within the first minute of play, Denmark’s Mathias Jørgensen booted in a goal of a pass from T Delaney. Croatia came back three minutes later as Mario Mandžukić claimed the equalizer. Without any more goals on the night, Croatia and Denmark went head-to-head in penalty kicks. Croatia missed the first shot, giving Denmark the opportunity to get ahead. Fortunately for them, Denmark did the same moments later. It became a trend as both teams made and missed the same penalty kicks. It took five pk’s until Ivan Rakitić finally capitalized on a shot that Denmark would later miss, propelling Croatia into the next stage of the World Cup.
England wrapped up the round of 16 with a tough match up against Colombia. The two teams went pass for pass and shot for shot against each other. England recorded 54 more passes than Colombia and claimed two more shots. However, Colombia managed to put four of its 14 shots on goal while England only put two on target. Compared to Colombia, England put its one goal in early, pushing in a penalty kick in in the 57th minute. A collapse in England’s defense allowed Colombia back in the game at the last minute as Yerry Mina scored in the 93rd minute. Heading into penalty kicks, England missed first, placing the Brits behind 3-2. The Colombians, however, took a turn for the worst as it missed its next two shots while England rallied back with its two shots, sealing its victory 4-3.
In the rest of the World Cup’s round of 16, Uruguay defeated Portugal 2-1 while France claimed the upset over Argentina 4-3. Brazil defeated Mexico 2-0 as Belgium eliminated Japan 3-2 later that day. Sweden knocked out Switzerland in a 1-0 defeat.
Uruguay will face France at 7 a.m. Friday, July 6, followed by Brazil versus Belgium at 11 a.m. Russia and Croatia will battle it out at 11 a.m., following the Sweden and England game at 7 a.m.