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The Last Eight- FIFA WORLD CUP 2018

32 teams kicked off the much awaited Football World Cup 2018 in Russia, with unwavering hopes and belief that this could be their time, their chance. As 15th of July nears, the dream for some has finished but hope still remains for the remaining eight. With twenty four of the participants all packed and sent home, the eyes glances towards the remaining teams with suspense as to who will lift the trophy of football royalty come July 15th in Moscow.

The group stages of this years FIFA World Cup has been strange, shocking and at the same time entertaining.  Defending World Champions Germany was the biggest team who missed out on the latter stages after failing to qualify and succumbing to the "champions curse". We have seen heartbreaks in the form of last ditch efforts and last minute eliminations and at the same time astonished by the quality of the football. Already been regarding as the best World Cup over the years, the stage certainly has not disappointed. In terms of history making, we have seen the perfect implementation of the VAR system which certainly has curbed the human errors labelled to disrupt the integrity of the game. While people still have doubts, the system has worked perfectly so far. We also saw, that for the first time ever a team qualified on the basis of fair play when Japan edged out on Nigeria because they had fewer yellow cards, but the same amount of wins, losses, goals scored and points.

The round of 16 also had it's say when Spain crashed out on penalties losing to the host nation Russia in what was regarded a terrible display of football by the Spanish. The Russian dream however, goes on. The Round of 16 as well was a combination of last minute suspense and heartbreak, when Japan despite having the upper hand lost to Belgium in the last minute of the match heading towards a potential penalty shoot out. Croatia also coasted through with the help of their keeper Subasic stepping up during their penalty shootout against Denmark, with England also stuttering through against Colombia despite all odds. Their first win on penalty shootouts in 3 attempts!  The Brazilian samba also continues as they looked most comfortable when they defeated Mexico 2-0 thanks to effort from Brazil main man Neymar and Liverpool Striker Firmino. Uruguay were also comfortable against a dampened Portugal team who had little to offer in response. The most awaited tie of the round of 16 was France vs Argentina, when the whole world unanimously hoped that the little man Lionel Messi might just pull through, but the French resistance proved to be too much. The Swedes also progressed into the last 8 for the first time in over 12 years when Switzerland was left bewildered at their missed oppurtunties.

The line up of the quarter-finals looks mouth watering and gives a sense of high expectations. Uruguay face France in what is expected to be an exuberant display of attacking football and strong mentality. Brazil vs Belgium without any doubts is the match of the tie, as the two heavy weights head on, with one of them unfortunately heading home at the end of the time. Will the Brazilian samba be curbed or the Belgian dream be smashed to the ground? The answer is much waited upon. Sweden vs England so far is being regarded as the most predictable tie, with England as the prime favourites, but then again there is nothing predictable in this game of life. Host nation Russia will once again step out on the pitch with self believe and support that has wavered them so far throughout the tournament against a Croatia team waiting to make its mark on World football.

As the tournament progresses towards its end, for many its one last chance at ultimate glory while for many it is the only chance. Dreams will be broken and fulfilled ; all that remains to see is that who wants it more than the other and that who has it in them to make that final push over the finishing line.