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From Moscow to Saint Petersburg - World Cup 2018: Day Nineteen

Over the next month, I'll be covering the World Cup for Tribalfootball. And along the way, I'd like to share with you some of my experiences and keep you up to date with all the action.

Japanese heartbreak

We're down to the two last round of 16 clashes today and already Germany, Spain, Argentina and Portugal have been eliminated.

And Japan should've added Belgium to that list yesterday. There's no doubt that the Red Devils comeback was incredible, but it was preventable.

Blue Samarai manager Akira Nishino would have helped his team if he had taken a leaf out of Stanislav Cherchesov's book by parking the bus, especially with a two-goal lead.

Instead Japan tried to nab a killer third and they were punished. This isn't taking anything away from the Japanese players, they played courageously all game. But allowing a team as talented as Belgium to find space was always going to end badly. In the end it cost Japan an improbable win and their first appearance in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Adios Peru

On the walk back home last night, I heard the singing and drums from around the corner. Sure enough, 10 to 12 Peruvian fans were giving it large on the banks of the Moscow river.

Supposedly 60,000 La Blanquirroja supporters made their way to Russia. There have been stories that some had mortgaged their houses to finance the journey. And never short of confidence in their team, many supporters booked flights home and bought tickets to the round of 16 game they should've been in.

I saw the same troupe leaving the hostel this morning to begin the journey back to the motherland. They've been incredibly passionate, humorous and enthusiastic throughout my time here. Muchas gracias amigos!

Football's coming home?

Today's the day, England. Colombia in the round of 16. It'll be my first time seeing either of these teams play live. I'm expecting a raucous atmosphere at Spartak Stadium given the amount of Colombians I've seen walking around Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

I'm interested to see how Gareth Southgate lines his team up today. I'd like to see Marcus Rashford start up front alongside Harry Kane. Colombian centre-back duo Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina are highly talented. But their turn of foot isn't exceptional, as Sadio Mane exploited time and time again last Thursday.

Sweden and Switzerland will end our round of 16, a match-up nobody would've predicted before the tournament. There isn't much separating the two teams which means we should get a tight contest in Saint Petersburg.

Andrew Maclean
About the author

Andrew Maclean

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