Three Welshmen are still heavily involved in the chase for World Cup glory.
They are former Cardiff City players Richard Evans and goalkeeper Martyn Margetson plus Rhys Long, an ex-head of performance analysis for the Welsh Rugby Union.
Evans is working closely with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez and assistant Thierry Henry as they prepare for a quarter-final clash with Brazil, while Margetson and Long stand alongside England manager Gareth Southgate in their preparations to face Sweden.
They all met up with Belgium played England in the group stages.
There are two matches today when Uruguay play France (3pm) and the Belgians take on Brazil (7pm).
The other two last eight fixtures are tomorrow when England face Sweden (3pm) and hosts Russia go head-to-head with Croatia.
Ebbw Vale-born Evans, 50, first met Martinez when he carried out the Spaniard’s medical before he became a Swansea City player in 2003.
The two men have worked together ever since at Swansea, Wigan Athletic, Everton and with Belgium.
The relationship between Martinez and Evans is a key factor for Belgium, whose includes 12 players from the English Premier League.
Evans played for Cardiff City, Newport County, Exeter City and Bristol Rovers. He did not make a League appearance for the Bluebirds.
After retiring from playing professional football he achieved a Sports Science BSc (Hons) at Loughborough University (1997–1999) and a Physiotherapy BSc Hons at Brunel University (2002–2006).
“I pursued a career in football after leaving school,” says Evans. “When I was 27-years-old and had been involved in professional and semi-professional football I realised that wasn’t going to provide me with a living after I’d finished my playing days.
Evans has talked about his relationship with the Belgian players, saying . . .
“Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens are the characters of the squad.
“I’m sure I’ve been the butt of many jokes – but it’s only been said in Flemish and French so I can’t understand it!”
“Some of the things you see on the training ground are just special – some of the finishing and tricks.
“To name a few you have Yannick Carrasco, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens.
“We often reflect on the training sessions after and say, ‘Did you see that?’”
“I would say Jan Vertonghen. I’d like to pick a forward because I was a forward myself.
“But the level of performance Jan generates at club level and international level is phenomenal.
“He’s got a fantastic physical condition for him to be able to maintain that.”
“Youri Tielemans and Thomas Meunier.
“The high intensity and total distance the boys cover is huge. They are both excellent trainers.”
“That was one of the first questions I had when I arrived because there was a battle between Divock Origi and Lukaku.
“I’d have to say Romelu – he maybe isn’t, but I have to say that anyway because I’ve worked with him for so long!”
He has that presidential voice and status within the team, always a spokesman.
“He has a business degree and I don’t think he sees football as a be-all and end-all.”
The Neath-born Welsh international, who played for Manchester City, Southend, Huddersfield and Cardiff City, is England’s goalkeeping coach, working with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope in Russia.
Margetson began coaching during his final season playing for the Bluebirds and after five years he was offered a coaching role with Wales.
He continued with the national team after moving to West Ham with Sam Allardyce, returning to Cardiff and then joining Crystal Palace.
He joined the England set-up when Allardyce became manager and was retained by Southgate.
The former Welsh Schools and Bridgend rugby union forward is England’s head of performance analysis and insight.
He is in Russia with the squad, while he is usually based at St George’s Park and oversees a team of 17 analysts supporting England’s national teams.
The former Porthcawl Comprehensive School pupil spent nine years at the WRU and had had spells with Wasps and the British Lions.
Long’s rugby playing days were ended by a neck injury. He graduated in Sports Science at Cardiff’s UWIC before taking an MSc in Performance Analysis and joining London Wasps in 2005.
World Cup quarter-finals:
Friday, July 6: France v Uruguay in Nizhny Novgorod (3pm); Brazil v Belgium in Soci (7pm).
Saturday, July 7: Sweden v England in Samara (3pm); Russia v Croatiain Kazan (7pm).