The quarterfinals are beckoning and the so-called “first warnings” are finally having an impact as to who misses out on these crunch fixtures.
Hope lingers around the minds of England fans right now. After all, The Three Lions won a penalty shootout for the first time in a FIFA World Cup fixture since 1966 and a relatively comfortable path awaits them to the final. But, to at least reach the semis, they might have to pay a price to the devil too – that is losing a key player or two for the fixture against Russia or Croatia.
So, here is the conundrum of yellow cards currently putting Gareth Southgate in limbo as far as team selection decisions are concerned. Playing one of his team leaders in Jordan Henderson against Sweden could cost the midfielder’s availability for the semis (that is if they beat the Swedes) due to receiving a yellow card.
Players in the World Cup are banned for a match if they pick up two yellow cards before the semi-finals. After the quarterfinals, players are given a clean slate and only a red card in the semis can make them miss the final match. But, luckily Southgate won’t be missing out any players for the quarter-final fixture.
So, in this article, we are going to talk about how the on-field behaviour of the quarter-finalists is finally having an effect on their route to the final.
The South Americans are currently the safest amongst the quarter-finalists with only Rodrigo Bentancur under the radar. Although, Uruguay are known for their famous “garra”, surprisingly, they only have a single booking in the course of four matches.
Midfielder Bentancur received a yellow card during his side’s 3-0 trouncing of Russia. So, if he receives a yellow card in the quarterfinal fixture against France, he would miss out on the semi-final if his team go through.
Although, Les Bleus beat Argentina in a classic World Cup match, Didier Deschamps still has a lot of work to do.
Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi will have to sit out of the crucial quarter-final clash against Uruguay due to receiving a second yellow card in this tournament against Argentina.
The problem doesn’t end there. If Oliver Giroud, Benjamin Pavard, Paul Pogba, and Corentin Tolisso receive a yellow (they have already received one) against Uruguay, then France will miss them in the semis.
So, Deschamps could make quite a few changes against the South Americans, or could just try his luck and field the players already on a yellow card.
With Brazil 1-0 up and comfortably set for victory, Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro received a yellow card in the Round of 16 win against Mexico – joining the three-man list to miss the quarters.
Although, Tite doesn’t have much to worry as Fernandinho will replace him and can carry out his duties well. But, the problem doesn’t just end here. If Brazil go through to the semis, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Filipe Luis could miss out if they receive their second yellow card of the tournament against the Belgians.
This could hurt them as the attacking players are crucial and talismanic to the team. Marcelo could be back, so a suspension for Luis won’t be much of a problem for Tite.
Although, the Europeans won’t be missing anybody against Brazil, if they go through, they could miss Thomas Meunier, Jan Verthongan, Youri Tielemans, Kevin de Bruyne, and Leander Dendoncker in the semi-finals.
The above-mentioned players have already received a yellow card each over the course of the tournament. So, Roberto Martinez has some work to do, as some of them are key to his Belgium side.
Coach Janne Anderson and Sweden will have some work to do as defender Mikael Lustig will miss the crunch match against England.
Meanwhile, yellow cards to Albin Ekdal and Viktor Claesson will ban them for the semi-final fixture – if they beat The Three Lions.
Harry Kane and Co. won’t be missing anybody in the quarter-finals, but probable suspensions lie ahead for the semis, if they beat Sweden.
England could miss Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Kyle Walker in the semi-finals, if they receive their second yellow card of the tournament in the next match. The worst part is that they are crucial players for the squad and would be hard to replace.
Croatia won’t be missing any of their players against the host nation. But, could miss quite a few of them for the semi-finals And we are not talking about two or three.
This puts coach Zlatko Dalic in a dilemma, as some of them are first-team players.
The hosts are clean for the quarters. But, Russia will have to mind their behavior if they want to reach the final.
Stanislav Cherchesov will have a lot of work to do, as a yellow card for Alekandr Golovin, Roman Zobnin, Yury Gazinskii, Ilya Kutepov, and Fyodor Smolov will suspend them for a probable semi-final fixture against England or Sweden.