Thankfully the break in matches at the 2018 World Cup is almost over ahead of the quarterfinals, and that means eight teams will have the opportunity to stamp their place into the final four over the coming days.
[ MORE: World Cup quarterfinals predictions ]
While powerhouses like France and Brazil still remain in the competition, hosts Russia and surprise nation Sweden aim to take down the almighty.
With that said, Pro Soccer Talk decided to take a look at eight statistics that matter heading into Friday and Saturday’s matches, and how they affect the nations involved.
ONE: Represents the number of goals Uruguay has conceded in four matches at this World Cup
For the South American country, they have prided themselves on defense for many years, and Oscar Tabarez’s group has once again shown that defense can in fact produce championships. With a sturdy back line, led by Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, France will have to get creative if they are to find a breakthrough.
SIX: French players that also appeared at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Outside of Kylian Mbappe, France hasn’t lived up to its star-studded attack thus far in Russia. However, this squad does have the capabilities of making a title run due to its experience. Players through the spine of the squad, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, defender Raphael Varane and midfielder Paul Pogba were all members of the Les Bleus squad that traveled to South America four years ago. That group also included starting attackers in the current regime, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi.
310: Minutes since Brazil conceded their last goal
When do people ever talk about the Selecao’s back line? Granted it’s difficult to when you have Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and others in the attack. That said, it has been Brazil’s defense that has gotten them this far. The CONMEBOL giants have conceded just once this World Cup, and more importantly, it was a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed after a questionable push in the back on Miranda by Swiss player Steven Zuber.
EIGHT: Different goalscorers Belgium has had through the Round of 16
It’s easy to look at goals scored and conceded to determine a team’s strengths and weaknesses, but what has been so impressive about the Red Devils thus far is how they’ve scored goals. Yes, Romelu Lukaku remains the biggest attacking threat for Roberto Martinez, but with so many attacking threats it is nearly impossible for Brazil to hone in on just one Belgian player.
1998: The year in which the most recent hosts (France) hoisted the World Cup
Nobody expected Russia to reach the quarterfinals, and for that they deserve significant praise. However, the Russians will be expecting to get much further than the final eight. If they can go on to win it all, they’d become they’d end a cycle of four consecutive cycles without a host winning on home soil.
18: Consecutive number of competitive matches in which Croatia has allowed either one goal or less
Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic get the most attention in this squad, but Croatia’s system as a whole has gotten them to the final eight. The team stays compact and difficult to break down, and for that reason, they have only allowed nine goals since their 2016 UEFA EURO match against the Czech Republic.
24: Years since Sweden played in the quarterfinals stage
It was 1994, and the Swedes made a similar run to the latter stages of the World Cup. The UEFA nation ultimately finished third that time around, and with a stealthy back line in 2018 things could be setting up nicely for manager Janne Andersson and his squad.
SIX: Harry Kane goals for the Three Lions
He leads the Golden Boot race at this point, and has proven to be England’s most dangerous attacking threat by a mile. What will be a bit concerning for Gareth Southgate‘s side is that half of his tallies have come from the penalty spot, which has been something England has had to rely heavily on in their first four matches.