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Ranking the World Cup quarterfinalists


The oddsmakers see Brazil as the favorites to win the World Cup, with France and England just behind them.

Does that sound right?

For Brazil, it’s likely a case of powerful performances, while perhaps England’s status comes from having a presumed easier path to the final (Sweden, then Croatia or Russia).

[ RECAP: England 1-1 (4-3 PKs) Colombia ]

The bettors have Belgium and Croatia next, followed by Uruguay, Russia, and Sweden.

We don’t see it quite that way, so let’s lay out the arguments for and against the final eight teams in Russia.

8. Russia — The hosts are on the better side of the bracket, and have proven stubborn to break down outside of the Uruguay tilt. Still, it’s hard to see them advancing much further in the tournament.

7. Sweden — Dogged defending is one thing, and three clean sheets in one tournament is no joke. The England-Sweden quarter is going to be a scrap.

6. England — Sure, the path is easier on the right side of the bracket. But England hasn’t scored outside of the penalty spot in two matches and is yet to keep a clean sheet. Sorry if we’re not 100 percent on board because the Three Lions finally won in penalty kicks. Gareth Southgate deserves a lot of credit for the English mentality, though, and that provides some hope.

5. France — The good: Exploded for four goals against Argentina after scoring just three across the entire group stage. The bad: Allowed three after allowing just one in the group stage. Paul Pogba looks excellent, and Samuel Umtiti is a force at the back. But even a win over Uruguay means an immediate test from Belgium or Brazil.

4. Uruguay — Has allowed exactly one goal in four tournaments matches, and Edinson Cavani has been fantastic in tandem with Luis Suarez. Atletico Madrid defenders Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez have that club-and-country swagger. And for whatever it’s worth, Uruguay is unbeaten in five against France. The combined score line is 1-0.

3. Croatia — Dealing with the hosts in the quarterfinal may be trickier than England or Sweden in a presumed semifinal. Luka Modric looks 10 years younger than his 32 years, and Mario Mandzukic can change a game with the flick of his boot.

2. Belgium — It’d be difficult to bet against the Red Devils if they weren’t staring down Brazil in the quarters. Say what you will about going down 2-0 to Japan, but Belgium was undeterred and ruthless in tearing up Samurai Blue dreams in little more than 20 minutes.

  1. Brazil — Since Steven Zuber equalized in the 50th minute of Brazil’s opener versus Switzerland, Alisson Becker has conceded exactly zero goals over 310 minutes. All the wins were 2-0. Now if only Neymar could show a modicum of class instead of denigrating the game with stereotypical playacting.

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.