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The beautiful game as seen by a fan living it every day

Then there were Four World Cup Semis

The Final Four of the 2018 World Cup are finally set. France will play neighbors Belgium and Surprise Semi Finalists Croatia will play England. I don’t think any soccer fan would have thought at the beginning of the Tournament that these would be the four teams left standing at this point. Only one pre-tournament favorite France is left.

Germany 2014 World Cup winners shockingly went out at the group stage. Argentina and Lionel Messi 2104 runners up went out in the round of 16. Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal went out in the round of 16 as well. Brazil and Neymar made it to the quarter finals only to lose to Belgium. So arguably the three best players in the world are already enjoying their summer vacations.

But English and Tottenham star Harry Kane the current Golden Boot leader will lead his team against Croatia for a chance to play in the final. They face a big challenge since Luka Modric and Croatia have yet to lose a game; they won the last two by penalty kicks. France and young phenom Kylian Mbappe one the youngest players to score a brace in a World Cup will try to live up to their favorite status.

Hosts Russia, shock quarter finalists finally saw their World Cup dreams come to an end in their penalty kick shootout loss to Croatia. They really fought bravely in the match. They scored the first goal through Denis Cheryshev in the 31st minute only to see Croatia equalize in the 39th through Andrej Kramaric. The two teams then traded goals in added time. Croatia scored four of their penalty kicks to Russia’s three.

This World Cup sure has entertained and has been fun to watch with only one 0-0 result, the group stage game with Denmark and France. There have been 67 goals scored in the late stages of matches. This World Cup will be known as the set piece World Cup thanks to VAR or Video Assistant Referee. Four things are reviewable by VAR during a match, Goals and whether there was a violation during the buildup to the goal, the awarding of penalty kicks, the awarding of direct red card ejections, mistaken identity in the awarding of red and yellow cards.

. So as a result there have been more penalties awarded than any other World Cup, due to the extra set of eyes of the VAR referee. “Following Sweden's 1-0 win against South Korea on Monday, thanks to a penalty awarded with the help of VAR, football analytics firm Opta Sports said 53.8 percent of the 26 goals up to that point had come from set plays.”

“It led to one joke doing the rounds on social media saying that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which is making its World Cup debut, will have more assists than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.”

So what does the Semi-finals have in store for us? Who really knows Soccer Fans just sit back and enjoy the ride. I was dead set against watching this World Cup due to the United States not being there, but I find myself riveted to the TV screen. Before the Tournament there was talk that the World Cup would never be the same after Russia 2018, boy they couldn’t have been righter.

This article was originally published on @soccerchic