Global focus: Jhingan's take on Russia 2018

Over the course of the past three weeks, sports fans around the globe have turned all their attention to the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. The tournament has been one of the most entertaining editions in recent memory, providing fans with some edge of the seat action and pulsating drama. As the tournament reaches its business end, caught up with Kerala Blasters’ captain Sandesh Jhingan to uncover his thoughts on the recently concluded Round of 16 and his predictions for the next round.

Memorable moments

A few games in the Round of 16 will surely go down as World Cup classics. France overcame Argentina in a breathtaking encounter which ended 4-3, where French right-back Benjamin Pavard scored one of the goals of the tournament. This was also Jhinghan’s favourite strike.

However, the 24-year-old singled out the game between Belgium and Japan as the most enjoyable tie. Japan looked to have caused a major upset when they lead by two goals in the second half, but the Belgian Red Devils fought valiantly to come back from behind and progress to the next round.

World Cup of the Underdogs?

There have been plenty of upsets thus far in this edition, with several underdogs rising to the occasion on football’s grandest stage. Jhingan has been thoroughly enthralled with their performances and stressed on the competitive nature of the sport. “I am really impressed with how they have performed and it shows how competitive football has become. There's no such thing as an easy game in football anymore.”

The Indian defender perfectly echoed our thoughts on a memorable week of knockout action. “The Round of 16 has provided us with full of excitement and edge of the seat kind of games - be it Colombia’s last-minute equaliser against England or Luka Modric’s missed penalty in extra time against Denmark or Belgium’s comeback. Eventually, teams with strong characters went through.”

Predictions for the Quarters

The quarter-finals promise to deliver more action with four heavyweights clashing swords for the two elusive semi-final berths. Jhingan gave us his predictions for each of the four games and where he expects the battle to be won. “I predict Brazil, France, Croatia and England to go through - teams who defend better will go through.”

While most of us will be expecting the big-name forwards to make the difference in the quarter-finals, Jhingan will be keeping a close eye on the displays of the defensive stalwarts. “There are a lot of game changers and mostly all the focus will be on the attackers such as Philippe Coutinho, Kylian Mbappe or Kevin De Bruyne, but I’ll be looking at how the likes of Diego Godin, Thiago Silva and Raphael Varane perform.”

Do you agree with Jhingan’s predictions for the next round? Have your say in the comments section below.

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