The quarterfinals of the World Cup begin today, first with a confident Brazil squad ready to take on a difficult and determined Croatia. Then, Argentina will look for victory against the Netherlands in the second game of the day.
Croatia took out Japan 3-1 in a penalty shootout on December 5 to conclude the previous round of competition. Their rival today, defending World Cup champion squad Brazil, defeated South Korea 4-1 in the Round of 16.
Setting up today’s latter game, Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in their Round of 16 matchup before drawing against the Netherlands. The Dutch team had no trouble finding victory against the US 3-1 as they moved into the quarterfinals. Both of today’s matchups will bring back moments of history.
Croatia Knows It Must Fight
Even Croatia’s head coach knows that they probably have the worst matchup as they face Brazil. Zlatko Dalić and his team must face Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known simply as Neymar, and his teammates in a tough battle. Dalić alluded to the Brazilian power in a press conference, freely admitting that today’s opponents are the “clear favorite.”
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Since the beginning of the tournament, Croatia, finalists of the 2018 World Cup, have been lethargic. They’ve made it this far thanks to goalkeeper Livakovic, who had three saves against Japan.
History is also against the European team. Brazil have won the two previous meetings between the two teams in the World Cup. Still, Dalić is ready to lead his men into battle and fight until the bitter end.
To many people, black cats are a sign of something bad coming. Fortunately for Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior, the cat that appeared before him in a press conference ahead of today’s match wasn’t black, or it could have been an ominous premonition.
He pushed it out of the way like he can do with Croatian defenders. He, along with Neymar and crew, mercilessly thrashed South Korea 4-1 in a game in which they could have easily scored twice as many goals. Instead, they eased up in order to not run up the score.
Croatia isn’t South Korea and will be a tougher opponent. However, it doesn’t have the firepower that Brazil has, and is going to suffer because of it. The big question is the total number of goals, which will likely stay below four.
Messi Hopes To Go Out With a Bang
Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti said this week that Lionel Messi is “finished” as a professional soccer player. As he gets ready to represent his home country of Argentina against the Netherlands, this will be his last World Cup as a player.
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The rivalry between Argentina and the Netherlands generates a lot of expectations, but Messi and Dutch soccer player Cody Gakpo will attract the most attention in today’s game. Gakpo won’t remember the rivalry first-hand, but Messi does.
Memphis Depay, does as well. He was one of the members of the Netherlands team that was left at the gates of the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil after losing on penalties against Argentina. It’s now time for a rematch between these two almost a decade later.
The Netherlands have played in the World Cup final three times, the last in 2010. However, they have never won it. The same can’t be said for Argentina, which has two World Cup championships, from 1978 and 1986.
Messi has achieved a number of records during his soccer career. He is also the Argentine footballer with the most matches in World Cups, at 23.
However, he needs to beat the Netherlands to be the player with the most caps at the top international event. That record belongs to Germany’s Lothar Matthäus, who played 25 World Cup matches.
This match is tough to call, as the Dutch team has been playing surprisingly well. Google thinks it knows the outcome, though, with the Alphabet-owned company giving Argentina a 42% chance of winning.
The Netherlands have only a 28% chance of pulling off a victory. However, Google also warned that the chances of the game ending in a tie and going into extra time, including a shootout, are 30%.
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