World Cup Preview: Belgium v England

Who? Belgium - England
Where? Krestovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
When? July 14, 16:00 (CET local time)

Belgium (Omri Tancman)

The last time Belgium and England met was a couple of weeks ago. In the final match of group H, Belgium and England sent their substitutes to the pitch and let their starters to rest. Here they meet again and one player who will be glad to receive the same opportunity he had in the group stage is Adnan Januzaj.

Not so long ago, Januzaj was considered as the future of Belgian football and as potential world-class superstar. In the season of 2013-2014 Januzaj emerged as a promising wonder kid for Manchester United. However, a series of bad performances and moreover, unsuccessful spells of loans led to a situation in which Januzaj is considered a bit like yesterday’s news. It is funny to say such thing on a 23 years old player but it is one of the symptoms of modern football.

Januzaj represents modern football in other ways as well. Current modern European football is overloaded with players having double and sometimes even triple nationalities, which can chose for who they want to play in their international career. Januzaj took this trend to the limit, and in early stages of his career he had the option to play for no less than 7 different countries. Januzaj’s family and especially his father were very vocal about the issue and the main dilemma was between Belgium and Kosovo, Januzaj’s father’s place of birth.

Januzaj chose eventually to represent Belgium and he was expected to be already one of the leading stars of the team. However, this has not happened yet. Maybe the upcoming match against England can join the previous and will create an awkward restart for Januzaj’s career.

England (Yossi Medina)

It's the end of the English dreams. They already touched it, felt that this is their chance, but England lost against Croatia and didn't qualified for the World Cup final. Yet, England can be proud in their performance during this tournament and now they need to look forward.

A quick look on the English squad can tell the story of their bright future. Harry Kane was the captain of the team at the age of 24 and many other players are younger than 26. The squad is composed of many players that will probably play be part of the next campaigns of England and will lead them to their next success.

More than the current squad, England is working hard for building the team. In the last year, England made history as their youth teams won both U-20 and U-17 World Cups. Some of the players that played at the U-20 World Cup final against Venezuela already played at the Premier league such as the winning goal scorer, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and one of the dominant players in this tournament, Dominic Solanke.

It's part of a long-term plan of the FA. England realized that in order to reach the level they wish, they need to work harder. While other European countries such as France, Spain and Belgium made tremendous progress, England kept by somehow their old-fashioned style. These days are over and England now looks for make their dreams come true.

England showed us that maybe the national team has finally changed. Reaching the semi finals with such a young team can bring hope that England can do more with this generation. Yet, there is always that the team will crush with the rising expectations and two years from now, in Euro 2020, England will have another disappointment. No matter what will happen, the fans will always have the same refrain in their hearts, "it's coming home". One day, it may really come home.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup in a Car

The semi-final between France and Belgium in St. Petersburg was a high-quality sporting event, with a strange atmosphere.

Instead of thousands of fans from the two European countries that would have make a passionate atmosphere, many seats in the stadiums were bald, and in general - there were much more Brazilians, Argentines and Peruvians in the stands- than French and Belgian fans. Not that they are not a good fans, but if they don’t really care about the game, you can feel it.

That's it. There are two more games left for this World Cup. The game on three-four places, then - the final.

Where did the European fans disappear in this tournament? Not sure we can precisely.

The English, for example, who are arriving to any big tournament in the tens of thousands, were present with just a few thousands. Still - one of the most amazing fans’ stories in Russia, is how not, involving an English football fan.

Meet Andrew Flint, an English guy who lives in Siberia, writes about football, and decided to experience this World Cup, with its tens of thousands of miles - in a car. So he drove, and met Uri in Saint Petersburg this week for a short talk. Watch or listen or both to our second video podcast from Russia.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: Croatia v England

Who? Croatia - England
Where? Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
When? July 11, 20:00 (CET local time)

Croatia (Eden Roitfarb)

Following the quarter final victory over Russia in penalties, Croatian coach Zlatko Dalić has tweeted a short yet simple message: “Small Nation, Big Dreams”. As one of the smallest and youngest nations around in this World Cup, it is quite amazing to see the pride and hunger of the squad on one hand, and the buzz and support from the Croatian nation on the other hand. Even President Kolinda Grabar -Kitarović has joined the party and was seen dancing in front of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after Domagoj Vida’s go-ahead goal in extra time.

Speaking of the Croatian defender, he has created a massive political controversy after he was being recorded saying “Glory to Ukraine” in a post-game video, along with assistant coach and former international Ognjen Vukojević. Both have played in the past for Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv and used this phrase that became popular in 2014 after conflict broke out with Russia. Just like Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri earlier in the tournament, Vida was fined for political provocation. Vukojević, however, was relieved from his duties following the incident. This is the second time a member of the Vatreni is sent home this summer, as striker Nikola Kalinić left the squad following his refusal to enter as a substitute vs Nigeria. Considering Croatia look fatigued after 2 grueling matches, Kalinić might be regretting his actions.

On Wednesday, Croatia face England in the Semi Finals. These two sides haven’t been in this stage for a long time, but both hold some good and bad memories from one another: In the Euro 2008 qualifications, Croatia beat England twice: 2-0 in Zagreb, and an iconic 3-2 win in Wembley – a result that left England out of the Euro’s. However, the Three Lions responded in the 2010 World Cup qualifications by thumping Croatia 4-1 and 5-1, thus denying the Balkan’s the chance to go to South Africa. For tonight’s matchup, two players who can be crucial for Croatia’s success are Luka Modrić and Vedran Ćorluka, who played together for English side Tottenham Hotspur – and know well some of their former Spurs counterparts that play today for England, such as Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.

The Croatians arrive in Moscow for the first time this tournament and would want to stay in town until at least Sunday night – as they look to make their biggest dream yet come true.

England (Yossi Medina)

In the last weeks, you just can't ignore the pride of the English people. The chants of Football's Coming Home can be heard everywhere and the confidence in the ability of this team to make history is high. Nobody missed the chance to congratulate the team. After the win against Colombia in the round of 16, one message was not really welcomed by the fans.

UKIP is not one of the biggest parties in the British politics, but it's definitely well known in the country. One of their main objectives is to change the immigration policy in the UK. Instead of being based on political decisions such as membership in the European Union, UKIP wants to change the process in order to ensure that only skilled people could immigrate to the country.

Their celebrations with England's success made a huge controversy. The Migration Museum of London decided to reply them with a poster. The poster described how England's lineup would look without immigrant or their descendants. Out of the 11 lineup players of England against Colombia, only four left as "native" English. Surprisingly, you couldn't find the scorer of the decisive penalty from that match, Eric Dier, who grew up in Portugal, and the leading scorer, Harry Kane, that his father is Irish.

Even in such a conservative football nation as England, immigrants became an integral part of the team. At the last match, another interesting player scored. Dele Ali was born in Milton Keynes, but his father is Nigerian and he even lived in the country for two years.

This combination is one of the important things that leads England to their current position. It's more than the usual story of players who are playing for the same flag. It's a mixture of cultures and races in one team. Even though they all sing loud and proud for their queen before any match, each one of them have its own story in their journey to make history.

Since 1966, England never played in a major tournament final. They lost three time since then – against Yugoslavia in Euro 1968, against Italy in 1990 World Cup and the last time was in Euro 1996 against Germany. The last person who felt the misery of missing a final was the current manager, Gareth Southgate, who missed the last penalty against Germany. A manager who is part from history of English disappointments and players that arrived to the country as part from its historic successes, all know that they have one mission tonight: reaching the final.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: Sweden v England

Who? Sweden - England
Where? Samara Arena, Samara
When? July 6, 16:00 (CET local time)


In 1994, Sweden made one of its best World Cup, as they reached the semi finals. Since then, Sweden played in seven major tournaments and their best achievements were the round of 16 in the World Cup and reaching quarter finals in the Euro. Now Sweden is facing an option to get one step forward in their way.

Sweden will play against England, a clash that make them fell a bit comfortable. They already played against England twice at the World Cup, in the group stage of 2002 and 2006, and in both occasions the games were tied. If you consider also games in the Euro, Sweden also won one of two matches between the teams. So Sweden's record against England is seems to be not bad at all.

Sweden will need to play without Mikael Lustig who got his second yellow card in the World Cup during the match against Switzerland. The one who will take his place as the right-back is Emil Krafth, that is only 23 years old but already have a lot of experience in international level. Even though he made only 14 international caps for the senior team, he began his international career in the U-21 team while he was just 17 years old.

After the defeat against Germany, nobody thought that Sweden could go so far. Now, after two games without conceding and with the strong defensive style, Sweden are close to make another amazing match.


Talks about football's coming home are just becoming louder. The game against Colombia finished with England's first ever win by penalty shootouts and now, if you want and if you don't, everyone believe that it's possible.

Once again, the main name is Harry Kane. In the previous match, Kane scored in a bit controversial penalty, but now it doesn't matter. Kane scored his 6th goal in the tournament, and now he is the best English scorer in a single World Cup alongside with Gary Lineker's 6 goals in 1986. If he will score once more, he will reach another milestone, as since 1978 only one player scored at least 7 goals in a single World Cup – it was Ronaldo in 2002.

After the winning against Colombia, Eric Dier became the hero of England. Dier, who scored the decisive penalty, is by somehow not the traditional English player. He didn't played in England until the age of 20, as he lived in Portugal and played in the youth teams of Sporting Lisbon. Yet, he played for England youth teams and even played together with Harry Kane in the U-20 World Cup.

England didn't had a great match against Colombia and they actually enjoyed a bad performance of Los Cafeteros. If England would not improve their playing level, they couldn't handle such a strong opponent as Sweden. England will have their chance to show the best of their skills, unless it will be the end of their dreams.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: Colombia v England

Who? Colombia - England
Where? Otkritie Arena, Moscow
When? July 3, 20:00 (CET local time)

Colombia (Idan Seggev)

June 26th 1998. Colombia and England meet at the Stade Felix-Bollaert in Lens for the last match in the group stage. Colombia needed a win in order to qualify but they lost 0-2. A goal by Darren Anderton and a magnificent free kick by the young star, David Beckham, finished the Colombian dream and the era of Carlos Valderrama, who played his last match with the yellow jersey.

July 3rd, 2018. 20 years later and both national teams will meet again, this time in the round of 16 of 2018 World Cup. Unlike the past, this time there is a feeling that Colombia can do it. The potential of this squad is big and with all the respect, the English team haven't show something extraordinary that makes Colombia's mission impossible. Add the fact that since his appointment as Colombia's coach, Pekerman never lost a game against European teams: six wins and two draws against teams such as Spain, Belgium, Holland and France.

The main question is whether James will be fit or not. Against Senegal he had to be replaced after only 31 minutes. After an examination by the team's doctor, the Colombian federation announced that he would be fit for the match. Meanwhile, Pekerman tried at the practice a lineup without James but with three defensive midfielders: Carlos Sanchez, Uribe and Barrios. Although most chances that James will play, even without him it's hard to believe that Pekerman will use such a defensive approach and either send Uribe to the left wing or will put Muriel there instead of one of the three. The rest should be the same as the team who played against Senegal.

Once again the Colombian fans will dominate the stands in the stadium, with Carlos Valderrama wearing the same jersey from that match in 1998, and with the elimination of teams like Germany, Argentina and Spain, the fans believe that it's their time to make history.

England (Yossi Medina)

The talks about football's coming home are rising and rising as long as the World Cup continues. The elimination of Spain made England to be the only former world champions in their side of the bracket and one out of two former finalists in this side, alongside with Sweden.

Since the end of the group stage, many people believe that England is currently in a good position to run all the way to the title. They are ranked on the top 5 and sometimes even in the top 3 according to the betting companies in their odds to win the title. The sounds of 1966 are here, but England knows that being favorite is not always enough, just like two years ago in the Euro against Iceland.

England have good memories from playing against Colombia, as they defeated them in their only World Cup meeting in 1998 group stage. Yet, the English team doesn't like to play against South American teams in World Cup knock out. They won only three times in the past, against Argentina in 1966 and against Paraguay in 1986. Since then, they lost twice to Argentina in 1986 and 1998 and defeated also by Brazil in 2002, but defeated Ecuador in 2006.

With the support in Russia and in the home, England feels that they can do it now. If they could leave the pressure away, England can make another great performance in this tournament that will maybe worth a place at the next stage. If not, it will be another disappointment for coming home too early.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: England v Belgium

Who? England - Belgium
Where? Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
When? June 28, 20:00 (CET local time)


England is in a complete euphoria. The 6:1 win against Panama made everyone believe that maybe in this World Cup they will have a better chance for winning the title. Now, after they clinched their spot for the next stage, they will try to do more interesting things in the World Cup.

For example, England can complete this stage with three wins, a record they had only in 1982 World Cup. They can even have one of their best scoring World Cup campaigns, as they only scored more in 1966.

Another notable record that maybe would be broken in this World Cup will be Gary Lineker's record for most goals in a single World Cup. While Lineker scored 6 goals in 1986, Harry Kane already netted 5. According to the reports, Kane might leave Russia for a while due to his wife pregnancy. The English FA is aware to the situation and says that Kane is not schedule to leave the team until the end of the tournament.

With their hope and optimism, England is facing one of the most dominant team in 2018 World Cup. If they will make it through, there is a big chance that the football will really come home.


Until now, Belgium presents maybe the most entertaining football in the tournament. With eight goals and two wins, Belgium already clinched their spot in the round of 16. Their last match against England is expected to be interesting, but it's going to be complicated.

The results combination, made England and Belgium to be almost completely tied for the first place. The only tie breaker that works is the fair play points. Currently, Belgium is ranked second as they got more yellow cards. If the game tonight will end with a win, there is no problem and the first place will be clear. The problem will be in case of a draw.

In a case of a draw, the teams will still be tied and once again the fair play tie breaker will be used. As this match will be the last, teams will know in such case if it will be better to finish first or second in order to avoid a harder path to the later stages. Belgium, who currently have one yellow card more than England, will need to work hard to maintain this lead if they want to finish second.

By the way, if England and Belgium will be tied at the end of the night also by fair play points, a drawing of lots will decide the first place. It happened only once in the history of the World Cup, while Ireland and Netherlands were tied for the second place in 1990. Will Belgium be part of a weird moment?

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: England v Panama

Who? England - Panama
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? June 24, 14:00 (CET local time)


It was a matter of a few seconds between England and opening the World Cup with an upset. The game against Tunisia, even though they eventually managed to win, was not one of their best games and England would like to recover against Panama.

If you will read some of the comments in England, you will find a new name that becomes the talented player to be pumped by the press. Harry Maguire, Leicester City's defender is that guy. His work against Tunisia was impressive, but in England you don't need too much time in order to be the hero that will save the nation's day.

In the game against Panama, England will face an interesting challenge, as they will try to win their second consecutive match for the first time since 2006 World Cup. At the last World Cup, England managed to have only one win out of seven matches. Another unbelievable record will be the fact that England didn't manage to win twice at the World Cup group stage since 1998.

In this situation, England cannot afford themselves a failure against Panama. With six points in the first two matches, England could take a deep breath and feel more comfortable for the next stages.


Nobody thought that Panama can be a strong opponent to Belgium. Even though they managed to keep a clean sheet during the first half and didn't fail completely until Lukaku's brace, the final score didn't surprised anyone.

Now everyone looks on Hernán Darío Gómez. The veteran Colombian coach faces England once again in the World Cup. In 1998, Gómez was Colombia's head coach while Los Cafeteros lost 0:2 to England, while Darren Anderton and David Beckham led England to the next stage.

The beginning for Panama was hard, but now, after they felt once what it means to play a World Cup game, they may be less stressed or excited. The tears of joy that has been seen during the national anthem in the previous match will disappear and Gómez will need to guide his players to an optimistic moment.

Although Panama is considered as the weakest team in the World Cup, they can't afford another bad result. They want to show to the world that they are still can to be competitive, even against strong team like England. If Tunisia managed to be until the additional time equaled, why wouldn't Panama do the same?

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: Belgium v Tunisia

Who? Belgium - Tunisia
Where? Otkritie Arena, Moscow
When? June 23, 14:00 (CET local time)

Belgium (Yossi Medina)

Belgium passed their first test in this World Cup clearly with 4:0 against Panama and now they are ready for their next match against Tunisia. Once again, Belgium will be the obvious favorites in this match.

The brace of Romelu Lukaku in the previous match made him as one of the best World Cup scorers in Belgium's history. With another goal he scored in 2014, there are now only two Belgian players that scored more than him. The first is Jan Ceulemans with 4 goals and the top scorer is Lukaku's former national manager, Marc Wilmots, who scored 5 goals.

For the Belgian team, the game against Tunisia may bring some memories from another match they played against North African team. It was four years ago against Algeria. Belgium had a bad opening with an early goal of Sofiane Feghouli, who converted a penalty kick successfully. Only in the last minutes Belgium found the net twice, by goals of Marouan Fellaini and Dries Mertens. Belgium needs to do everything in order to prevent a repeat of it.

Roberto Martínez and his players are aiming to finish in the first place in group G. Before playing the decisive match against England, Belgium must ensure that they would not drop any single point against Tunisia.

Tunisia (Uri Levy)

After three Arab teams, two of them North Africans, are all out of the tournament, the last Arab representative, which is also North African, Tunisia will try to retain some of whats left from the lost respect for the Arab football in the 2018 World Cup. The Carthage Eagles already surprised with their performance against England in the first match day.

Then, they almost produced a famous upset but could not hold on. Despite losing to the Three Lions, with two of their star players out to injury, the Tunisians produced a combative half against a much more competent team. Nabil Maâloul and his players definitely have a reason to be disappointed to lose like this in the 91st minute, after Ferjani Sassi cooly converted a penalty that turned out to be the first Arab goal of the tournament that equalised the scoreboard.

Against Belgium they will look to produce the same aggressiveness, but this time to lock the goal safe enough until the final whistle. They have nothing to lose or any fraud expectations to prove right. They will scratch, kick, foul and do whatever it takes to stop Lukaku, Mertens, De Bruyne and the band. Their game after will be against Panama in Saransk, in what will be the last match of the group stage. Imagine if they’ll grab a point from the Red Devils, beat Panama by four goals, while England draw with the Central Americans and lose to Belgium. Maybe then, the Arab respect will be somehow back on the football pitches in Russia.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.

World Cup Preview: Tunisia v England

Who? Tunisia - England
Where? Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
When? June 18, 20:00 (CET local time)

Tunisia (Uri Levy)

The Tunisian national team is one of the few unique competitors in this World Cup that will joy the absence of one important factor in football: Pressure. In a group with Belgium & England nobody, including the Tunisians themselves, is not expecting the Carthage Eagles to go to the next round.

Tunisia is a special country. It’s where the Arab Spring has erupted first and the primary exporter of ISIS militants. Tunisia is also the only country that its recent series of Middle Eastern revolutions, has ended with a functioning democracy. And yes, it is a football-holic place. With a rich club culture within the local league, the Tunisian national team will enjoy great support in Russia. The squad is the highest ranked Arab team in the world at the moment, 21st in the last FIFA rankings.

Despite winning the Africa Cup of Nations only once, Tunisia is counted as a solid African national team. Their hopes for achieving something in the tournament got a serious hit after both stars, Youssef Msakni & Taha Khneissi, got injured in their clubs’ last matches of the season. This have left the Carthage’s Eagles with Wahbi Khazri as the main man, but also made place for promising talents as Naim Sliti and Saifeddine Khaoui, to play their trade in the world’s biggest football stage.

A qualification for the knockout is a far dream for the Tunisians, but a respectable loss to Belgium, a heroic tie with England and a hammering victory against the weak Panama, will count as a major success for them.  With the memories of the two teams meeting in 1998, the result shouldn’t be different (2-0 England), but don’t underestimate Tunisia.

England (Yossi Medina)

England is ready for another World Cup campaign, and this time they want to do it. Well, it might be hard, but the English still believe. England is arriving to this tournament after two huge failures with a winless group stage in 2014 World Cup and being eliminated against Iceland in Euro 2016.

The qualifying was a typical English journey, an easy travel with 8 wins and 2 draws and early booking of tickets to Russia. During the qualifiers, England also had an interesting controversy, while Sam Allardyce was sacked after being involved in corruption scandal.

England found his replacement shortly, as Gareth Southgate was appointed the new England manager. As a player Southgate was also part of one of the biggest disappointments in England's history. In Euro 1996 he missed the crucial penalty against Germany in the semifinals.

With this experience, Southgate wants to lead England to an achievement that they didn't face for a while. Harry Kane, as usual, will be the biggest English name and the hope of many for bringing joy and happiness for the fans. At the age of 24, Kane is making his first ever World Cup and will look for his debut goal in major tournament, as he failed to score two years ago in France.

As usual, one of the biggest problems in England will be the goalkeeping position. Southgate picked three goalkeepers in the ages of 24, 25 and 26, who made together just 12 caps. It seems that Southgate may prefer Everton's Jordan Pickford as his first goalkeeper, hoping that he wouldn't disappoint him.

England is arriving once again to the World Cup full of hope and glory. Now we need to see whether they will sing God Save the Queen until the end or they will need to save their lives from the angry fans.

Canceled or delayed flight? Check your compensation with BabaGol's new partner - AirHelp. AirHelp is here to enforce your passenger rights and make sure you get your rightful compensation. Try it out HERE.