Round 5: Arvind and Imran share top spot

Harry Maguire and John Stones

England are still threatening to bring football home after reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990 with an impressive victory against Sweden and we also had some excellent quarter-final displays on Predikta.

Arvind Krishna Mungly and Imran Lalani were the joint top scorers from round five with 12 points although Gaza Fleet Man was just five minutes away from four perfect scorelines only for Russia to equalise against Croatia towards the end of extra time.

Gaza finished in a tie for third with the equally impressive Daniel Martin who also had three perfect scorelines going into the Russia finale but his 2-0 prediction for a Croatia win fell by the wayside with Denis Cheryshev’s superb opener.

Those 12 points for Daniel and Imran moved them up to fourth and third respectively in the overall standings in the race to win an England shirt signed by greats like Beckham, Gerrard, Rooney, Owen and the rest.

Signed England shirt

Meach Meachington continues to lead the way despite scoring three points from the four games and with just seven points separating the top 28 players it promises to be an exciting climax to the competition.

Jason Parker is his nearest rival with 56 points, just one off the lead, after moving up six places with half a dozen points from round five.

The leaderboard was looking pretty congested with 16 players on six points after France’s victory over Uruguay in the opening quarter-final.

Al B, Anders Frisk, Craig Taylor, Evo the WC Champ, Graeme Cuthbertson, Jonathan Hugosson, Karen Myers and Omer Raviv were among the bunch to play their bankers on a 2-0 win for the 1998 champions. Only 39 players were on that scoreline with a 2-1 win for Les Bleus easily the most popular prediction of the round at 41.5%.

On Friday night we had three players on nine points after Belgium stunned World Cup favourites Brazil in Kazan.

Daniel, Gaza and Jonathan were in the 12% of players to forecast a 2-1 victory for Roberto Martinez’s men which put the trio at the top of the table, one point clear of Taxiarchis Konstantopou and two ahead of Carl Cripps, Craig, David Reeder, HF and Mochai.

Most of you fancied a 2-1 win for Brazil which was the second most popular prediction of the last-eight ties.

After England’s 2-0 win against Sweden it looked to be a straight battle between Daniel and Gaza  whose 12 points gave them a one-point lead over Joey Lambo with Arvind and Imran among a host of players hot on their heels with 10.

A confident 79% of you went for an England win with the most popular prediction a 2-1 victory, while there was very little to separate 1-0 and 2-0 wins for Gareth Southgate’s side.

Mario Figueira Fernandez’s 115th-minute header ensured Russia’s clash with Croatia went to penalties and also meant Arvind and Imran finished the round on top with four correct results. Dave Latham bagged a share of seventh spot as one of only eight players to nail the 2-2 scoreline in Sochi.

Well done Arvind and Imran and unlucky Gaza – that was some effort!

Here’s a rundown of how the quarter-finals went:

Round 5 prediktions

Uruguay 0-2 France (8%)
Brazil 1-2 Belgium (12%)
Sweden 0-2 England (22%)
Russia 2-2 Croatia (Eight correct predictions)

Four correct results

Arvind Krishna Mungly, Imran Lalani, HF and probably more!

Three correct scorelines

Daniel Martin and Gaza Fleet Man

Ten or less spot-on prediktions

8 – Russia 2-2 Croatia – Bob Northmore, Dave Latham, Grant Gaffney, Judith Hodginkson, Justin Cernis, Richard Wignall, Robert Loan and Sinan Gumus

Top six prediktions of round 4

Uruguay 0-2 France (41.5%)
Brazil 2-1 Belgium (33%)
Sweden 1-2 England (27%)
Russia 1-2 Croatia (25%)
Sweden 0-1 England (22.8%)
Sweden 0-2 England (22.4%)

Semi-finals preview

The semi-finals of the World Cup is an all-European affair and gets under way on Tuesday night when France take on 1986 semi-finalists Belgium in St Petersburg. But the big one takes place on Wednesday when England try to reach their first final since 1966 when they face Croatia.

France v Belgium (Tue 7pm): France are the new favourites to win the World Cup for a second time after overcoming Uruguay 2-0 in Nizhny Novgorod. Les Bleus won their group comfortably and the Argentina game aside, when they fought back from 2-1 down to score three goals in 11 minutes, have rarely been troubled.

Belgium have won all five matches at the World Cup but were in danger of being knocked out in the last 16 by Japan who struck twice in seven minutes at the start of the second half only for Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli to fire Roberto Martinez’s men into the quarter-finals.

The last competitive meeting between the sides came at the 1986 World Cup when France secured third place with a 4-2 extra-time victory, but Belgium won their most recent contest 4-3 in 2015 thanks to a double from Fellaini, plus goals from Radja Nainggolan, now retired from international duty, and Eden Hazard.

As strong as France look, Belgium are the top scorers in the tournament with 14 goals and the way they beat Brazil in the last 16 was extremely impressive. Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne were exceptional in that match and France don’t have the same quality in midfield although in Kylian Mbappe they have a potential match-winner and a player who should be good for another three World Cups.

France may be the favourites but we fancy Belgium to edge through in a match in which we expect both teams to score.

Croatia v England (Wed 7pm): Who would have thought England would be in the last four at the start of the tournament? England had one star in Harry Kane before the World Cup started but Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford, John Stones and Jesse Lingard have since emerged as major talents on the world stage.

Maguire’s powerful header put England in front against Sweden with their eighth goal from a set-piece before Dele Alli nodded in a second after the break. In may ways this was England’s most accomplished performance of the tournament against a side that beat France in the qualifiers, eliminated Italy in a play-off and finished top of their group despite a last-second defeat by Germany.

Croatia were one of three teams to secure maximum points from the group phase but needed penalty shoot-outs to beat both Denmark and hosts Russia. They noticeably tired in the second half of both knockout stages apart from Luka Modric who ran his socks off for 120 minutes.

The teams last met in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup when England won 4-1 and 5-1, gaining revenge for 3-2 and 2-0 defeats in qualifying for Euro 2008 which ultimately cost Steve McClaren his job.

Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic remain from those times, but the former looks out of sorts in Russia and seems to have been pushed out wide again where he plays for Juventus. We expect Croatia to have plenty of possession with England looking to win the free-kicks and corners which have brought so much success. Could go to extra time and who knows after that!

There are just four games to go and with a bunched leaderboard there are plenty of players still in with a chance of winning the coveted England shirt. Make your predictions before Tuesday night’s deadline by clicking on the blue banner below and best of luck to those of you still in the running!