Exciting Brazil lock horns with Croatia
Brazil will endeavour to keep their hopes of lifting a record-extending sixth world title alive when they lock horns with Croatia in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup at Education City Stadium on Friday.
The Selecao sent out a statement to the rest of the tournament when they breezed past South Korea in the last 16, while the Checkered Ones were pushed all the way by Japan before edging through on penalties.
For the second successive World Cup and for the third time in their history, Croatia will be competing in the quarter-finals on the biggest international stage after beating Japan 3-1 on penalties in the last 16 on Monday.
Croatia are unbeaten in their last 10 internationals and have lost only one of their last 20 games across all competitions since Euro 2020, but this impressive run is set to be tested by a high-flying Brazil
Brazil are oozing confidence at present and they are now preparing for their seventh successive World Cup quarter-final and the Brazilian flair and swagger is what football fans across the globe are accustomed to.
After comfortably dispatching South Korea in the last 16, Brazil are brimming with confidence but Friday’s contest may not be a cakewalk against a nation of Croatia’s calibre with their knockout-stage pedigree.
Netherlands welcome Argentina in cagey encounter
Van Gaal did little to justify his claims that the Netherlands were not a “boring” side when the USA put them under the cosh in the opening exchanges, but Oranje sure did teach their American counterparts a lesson in ruthlessness to make the quarter-finals for the third time in a row.
Not since 1994 have Argentina failed to win a quarter-final match at the World Cup, and the Netherlands’ unbeaten streak in all competitions now stands at a whopping 19 matches, but something has to give when two attacking heavyweights battle for supremacy.
The script had been written for Lionel Messi to end his knockout hoodoo in his 1,000th career match, and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner finally scored his first non-group stage World Cup goal in trademark Messi fashion against Australia, who did not go down waving the white flag.
Stalemates between the Netherlands and Argentina have been commonplace at the World Cup, and we do not expect that theme to change here, so Scaloni’s side may have to rely on their penalty-kick prowess to set up a semi-final clash.
Can Portugal end Morocco’s fairytale run
Morocco’s incredible journey to the Fifa World Cup quarter-finals has seen them finish top of group F and beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16. On Saturday, they will face a dangerous Portugal side who thrashed Switzerland 6-1 last time out. Can the Atlas Lions continue their fairytale run in Qatar?
Morocco are carrying a continent’s hopes” as well as representing the Middle East, they have the support of two vast regions. A boisterous “home” crowd will welcome Portugal for the last-eight clash at the Al Thumama Stadium – but will they welcome Cristiano Ronaldo from the start? In the 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland, the 37-year-old was named on the bench as his replacement, Gonçalo Ramos, scored a superb hat-trick.
Portugal did an “absolute demolition job” on Switzerland and are “now fancied” to end Morocco’s fairytale run if they maintain that momentum.
Clinical Mbappe could be England’s achilles heel
The Three Lions put three past Senegal without reply to advance to the last eight, while the reigning champions overcame Poland 3-1 to keep their hopes of back-to-back titles alive.
Quarter-final exits have been commonplace for England, who have been dumped out at this stage in the 1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002 and 2006 tournaments, and six of their last eight World Cup eliminations have come against fellow European nations.
A three-game streak without conceding a goal at the World Cup does stand England in good stead, and Southgate could now become the first Three Lions manager in history to lead the team to more than one semi-final, but the most formidable of formidable foes is standing in their way.
France have now reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in five of the last seven editions – including each of their last three – and they have prevailed in eight of their last 10 knockout ties against fellow UEFA nations, but they are yet to silence all the critics. The longer this quarter-final goes on, the more it will benefit England, who have an abundance of attacking talent on the bench waiting to make a difference against tired French legs.
On the other hand, Southgate’s side have not exploded out of the blocks in their last three World Cup encounters, and the clinical pairing of Mbappe and Giroud will need no second invitation to take advantage of another slow start.