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World Cup: BBC predictions for semi-final round

Action from a match with 2018 World Cup semi-finalists, France. (Google image)

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC): BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson is making a prediction for every match in Russia.

Lawro picked the winner in three of the four quarter-finals and six of the eight last-16 ties.

He enjoyed a 46% success rate in the group stage, correctly guessing the outcome of 22 of the 48 games.

Before the tournament, Lawro correctly chose 14 of the 16 teams that reached the first knockout stage, including Brazil- his pick to win the tournament – and England, who he thought would go out in the quarter-finals.

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan in Moscow.

France v Belgium (Tuesday, July 10)

Both of these teams have got better as the tournament has gone on, and they have both claimed notable scalps too – France by beating Argentina in the last 16 and Belgium knocking out my tip, Brazil, in the quarter-finals.

There is not much flair at the top end of the France attack with Olivier Giroud leading the line, but he is there to bring people like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann into the game.

I am sure Giroud will get a goal soon, but even if he doesn’t he is a big, strong target man, and the other attackers can play off him.

They kind of rotate around him, and the Chelsea striker offers the added bonus of being good at defending set-pieces.

We saw the best of France going forward when Mbappe blew Argentina away, but I don’t think Belgium will be as open as the South Americans were.

Belgium were excellent against Brazil but I am worried that game might have been their performance of this World Cup. They just need to forget that win, as good as it was, and try to start again.

I just think Les Bleus might step things up here. As we have seen before when they have reached this stage of a major tournament, their success has a wider significance and their football team is seen as a symbol of a united France.

I think they will respond here too – and make it to Moscow next Sunday. Lawro’s prediction: 2-0.

Croatia v England (Wednesday, July 11)

I was at both of Croatia’s matches in the knockout stages – their penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia.

They have got good players right through their team and, without a doubt, they will be the best team that England have played at this World Cup – I am ignoring the meaningless match against Belgium.

So I think Gareth Southgate’s side will have to raise their level from what we have seen so far.

But this just strikes me as one of those games that I really do think England will win by hook or by crook.

Croatia have had extra time in their past two matches, and some of their players looked out on their feet near the end against Russia.

I just have a feeling that England will find a way to win. Sometimes I think these things are written – and the way this tournament has opened up for England is one of the reasons it feels like this is their time.

I think their players will realise they will never ever have a chance of getting into a World Cup final, and also of winning the thing.

While England’s results have been a lot better than their performances, that is not a bad thing in a tournament like this. Plus I think they have got a lot left in the tank.

One of the areas where they can improve is by creating more chances in open play. We know they are capable of doing it – it just has not happened yet.

So I do think they will find a way to the final – and if they make it back to Moscow four days later, I think they will win it.

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  1. yes says:

    It’s coming home!

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