The schedules are set. These are the four upcoming games for the quarterfinals:
Croatia vs. Brazil Dec 9
Netherlands vs. Argentina Dec 9
Morocco vs. Portugal Dec 10
England vs. France Dec 10
The big four that are left are Brazil, Argentina, England, and France.
Portugal and Morocco
Spain had many opportunities to score against Morocco in their recent game, but the defense was too strong. That carried over to the penalty kicks. Spain could not score against Morocco’s goalkeeper, but Morocco had no problem scoring against Spain’s netminder. He seemed to commit too early, giving each shooter an easier time to score. Morocco ended up winning 3-0, and with that win, they entered the quarterfinals for the first time ever.
They are the big surprise in this World Cup and now will go against Portugal, who soundly beat Switzerland 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinal. Cristiano Ronaldo was benched for most of the game as his replacement Goncalo Ramos, scored a hattrick. After Ramos’ third goal, the crowd began chanting, “Ronaldo! Ronaldo!” who came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute to loud cheers.
Portugal is the more experienced team, but will they be able to penetrate the defense that Spain couldn’t? Critics think the team will have a better chance of winning if Ronaldo is benched again and they stick with his replacement. Keep an eye out for that news to see if the odds change once the decision is broadcast.
England and France
This is another impressive matchup. Each has a couple of players that are vying for the golden boot. In the lead for that award is Kylian Mbappe of France, with five goals so far. His teammate, Olivier Giroud, has three goals. England has two players, each with three goals – Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka.
Mbappe is a dangerous player that England must directly defend against. Kyle Walker is the right-back that is expected to keep Mbappe in check. He’s got both speed and power and can bomb forward to attack at the right moment. But will Mbappe even be in the game for this matchup? He missed training with a suspected ankle injury, but their management says it’s just a precaution. The status of his attendance will significantly influence the odds of that game. Keep checking the news.
Brazil and Croatia
These teams are less evenly matched as Croatia must take on the powerhouse Brazil. The odds are in their favor as Croatia is an older team, but they surprised the soccer world in the last World Cup when they went all the way to the finals. Be careful with the bets coming in on this one. If Croatia’s defense can hold up against Brazil, they may stand a chance.
Unfortunately, Brazil has been miserly in the number of goals they are giving up. Croatia’s manager, Zlatko Dalic, says they are ready to challenge the “terrifying favorites” Brazil in their World Cup quarter-final match on Friday. He has nothing but praise for the best national team and their many good quality and fast players. But he doesn’t think it will be a huge upset to beat them.
Argentina and the Netherlands
The Netherlands played well in their win over the USA, but Argentina didn’t seem at their top level against Australia. Lionel Messi appears to be carrying the team at times. He has three goals so far but will need his team’s help if they expect to win against a team as good as the Netherlands. The teams are evenly matched, with Argentina having a slight advantage with Messi. It could come down to the coaches. Louis van Gall is a fantastic coach for the Netherlands whose in-game changes can be the difference against a less experienced Lionel Scaloni for Argentina.
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