Following the turbulent three weeks of the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, which kicked off across Russia in mid-June, the global audience of football fans took a two-day break before the eight best national football teams would restart vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy in the quarterfinals of the quadrennial championship on July 6-7.
Numerous football fans, foreign state officials and politicians, as well as experts have already praised Russia’s organization of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, noting the warm-hearted hospitality in all of 11 hosting cities, but branded the outcomes of this world championship as utterly unpredictable.
Speaking about unpredictability, such global football heavyweights as reigning World Champions Germany, reigning European Champions Portugal, the teams of Argentina and Spain, have already gone home after failing to clear either the group stage of the 2018 World Cup or the round of Last 16.
The eight remaining teams left to fight it out for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Trophy, are hosts Russia, France, Uruguay, Sweden, Brazil, England, Belgium and Croatia.
The matches to battle for the semifinals begin in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Friday at 5:00 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT) when France meets Uruguay on the football pitch of the new stadium. Later in the day, the city of Kazan will host the Brazil-Belgium encounter, which kicks off at the Kazan Arena at 9:00 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT).
The following day, Team England takes on the Swedish national squad in the city of Samara at 6:00 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT), while hosts Russia are set to face off against Croatia at the legendary Fisht Olympic Stadium at 9:00 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT) in Russia’s southern resort city of Sochi.
According to FIFA’s official statistics, the number of fans at all stadiums during 56 out 64 total matches played at the 2018 World Cup (48 matches in the group stage and eight matches in Last 16) came to 2,576,584 people, which carries an average of 46,010 at each match.The World Cup in Russia has already chalked up 146 goals scored in all of the previous 56 matches (2.61 per match on the average), with the Belgian team scoring the most so far – 12 goals in four games.
A total of 32 national football teams entered the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but narrowed down to 16 as they proceeded to the knockout phase after the group stage, held between June 14 and 28.
Eight more teams left the list of contestants for the 2018 World Cup Trophy in the round of Last 16, which was played between June 30 and July 3.
Russia is staging its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.