Meticulous preparation - including a trip to the United States to take in an National Basketball Association game - the selection of specific players with strong dead-ball delivery and the defensive nature of high-pressure tournament soccer has led to a point where set pieces could yet lead England to a second World Cup title. According to their report, Neymar spent good 14 minutes rolling on the ground in Russian Federation before the quarterfinal match. That's a lot of time spent on the floor. In England's class of 2018, free kicks, corners and wide crosses are mostly provided by England's wing backs, Young and Kieran Trippier, and they are proving tough to defend. But English midfielder David Platt had other ideas as he scored his very first worldwide goal to send England through to the quarter-final in the 119th minute.
What's more, the wide-open remaining field in Russian Federation features players who, if they perform decisively in a winning cause, will have demonstrably better Ballon d'Or credentials than Neymar and push the big two harder than they have been at any stage over the past decade. I'm very happy to be part of this team, I'm proud of all the players.
Would Messi crown a glorious career by leading Argentina to football's biggest prize? "I can't answer that question right now".
With the semifinals looming, the answers to those questions can already be answered with an emphatic no because Russian Federation 2018 has been a tournament where the collective has outshone any individual.
In a World Cup where set pieces have played such a huge role and with teams becoming ever more cautious as the final approaches, that edge could prove the difference between England ending 52 years of hurt or falling at the penultimate hurdle.
At the start of this tournament questions were being asked about whether Belgium's talented individuals could work together. Tite's men lost 2-1 to the Red Devils.
After making it through the quarterfinals, the final four squads will have a couple of days to prepare for their next matches.
Brazil came to Russian Federation with a strong team, a well-liked coach and a great star. "I need to contribute". "We'll have to outdo ourselves and give our best, take each match as it comes, and see how far we can go". Before his team's exit at the hands of Belgium the PSG star hogged the limelight with his constant injury problems, Instagram posts, outpourings of emotion and most notably his on field play acting.