World Cup Quarterfinals Preview
Then there were eight. After an exciting Group Stage and Round of 16, we have the final eight teams that will be fighting to lift soccer's most prestigious trophy.
Let’s take a look at who’s squaring off in the quarterfinals.
Brazil vs. Croatia
In the opening game of the quarterfinals, tournament favorite Brazil will face off against the 2018 runners-up Croatia.
Richarlison has broken out in his first World Cup, leading Brazil with three goals. Neymar returned against South Korea after injuring his foot in the opening match, so his fitness will be something to keep an eye on against Croatia.
Alisson got tested for the first time in the tournament against South Korea, having to make five saves. Brazil will have to clean it up defensively, as Croatia is known to capitalize on any chance they get.
Cardiac Croatia returned in their Round of 16 match, as they came back to equalize versus Japan before eventually prevailing in penalties after Dominik Livakovic stopped three out of the four Japan attempts.
Luka Modrić continues to be a world-class player despite being 37 years old, and Andrej Kramarić has been excellent on the attack, leading the team in goals with two.
Brazil will be favored to advance, but do not expect Croatia to go down without a fight.
Argentina vs. Netherlands
The reigning Copa América champions, Argentina, will square off against the Netherlands on Friday.
Lionel Messi continues to be an ageless wonder at 35. He leads Argentina in goals with three and is tied for second in the tournament. While 22-year-old Julián Álvarez scored two goals in his first World Cup.
The Netherlands will have to be careful not to concede any dangerous set pieces, as Messi is still more than capable of capitalizing on any and all scoring opportunities.
The Netherlands has its own young star, 23-year-old Cody Gakpo. Gakpo leads the Dutch with three goals, scoring in all three group-stage matches.
Look out for a tightly contested contest that takes more than 90 minutes to determine a winner.
Morocco vs. Portugal
Morocco, this year’s Cinderella team, will square off Saturday against Portugal.
Portugal proved in the Round of 16 that they don’t need Christiano Ronaldo to win, as Portugal’s all-time leading scorer was left on the bench until the 72nd when the game was already 5-1 Portugal.
Ronaldo’s replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, netted the first hat trick of the tournament. Ronaldo’s role in the quarterfinal will be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on.
Morocco is the first-ever Arab nation and the fourth African team to make it to the Quarterfinals.
Morocco’s defense has been stout, and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has made clutch saves when called upon. The Atlas Lions have yet to allow a goal in the tournament that wasn’t an own goal.
Expect a low-scoring match that, if things fall the right way, could result in Morocco being the first-ever African nation to advance to the semi-finals.
England vs. France
Two European juggernauts are facing off on Saturday when the defending World Cup champions, France, go up against the 2018 semi-finalists, England.
France entered the tournament decimated by injuries but has still managed to take care of business. Kylian Mbappé has continued to impress on the international stage leading the entire tournament with five goals.
England’s center backs will have to key in on Mbappé as France’s offense runs through the 23-year-old.
England’s offense has come to play. They lead the tournament with 12 goals and have eight different goal scorers. Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka are tied for the team lead with three goals.
World-class striker Harry Kane has taken on more of a playmaker role leading the tournament with three assists but is still a significant scoring threat.
This will be an exciting match that could determine who will lift the trophy in Qatar.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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