Predictions Ahead Of Croatia vs Brazil and Netherlands vs Argentina
9 Dec 2022
The Round of 16 brought with it some moments of magic, drama, and high quality as we enter the business end of this tournament. Each team remaining is just three games away from getting their hands on the trophy, and all will feel as if they have at least some chance of succeeding. Her are our predictions for today’s round of fixtures.
Croatia vs Brazil
These two sides could not have qualified for the Quarter Finals in more contrasting fashion. Croatia fought back from a goal down against Japan and scraped through on penalties, while Brazil put South Korea to the sword with an intoxicating brand of fast paced football. The tournament favourites from South America never quite hit top gear in the group stages, but it feels as if they are peaking at the right time to make a run to the final, as their most important players are finding form.
Croatia however should not be underestimated, as this squad has a winning mentality led by Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic. They overachieved in the last World Cup by staying in games, and have so far shown they have the ability to do the same in Qatar. Josko Gvardiol has been one of the best defenders at this World Cup, as well as Marcelo Brozovic and Modric who have been the engine room of the Croatian midfield, despite Luka’s age and Brozovic’s penchant for cigarettes.
Fatigue will certainly be a factor in this game, as this Croatia side took part in a gruelling 120 minute battle against Japan in midweek. Some of their players ran upwards of 16km in their round of 16 fixture, with Brazil on the other hand cruising to victory in normal time, and even finding the opportunity to rest their keeper in the second half.
Even though Croatia have the tournament pedigree from their experienced players, this should be the end of the road for them if Brazil can turn on the style like they did against South Korea. Neymar will be keen to get on the scoresheet again and prove himself to be one of the world’s best, while the centre back pairing of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos have looked imperious thus far. I expect Brazil to win this one quite comfortably.
Score Prediction: Croatia 0-3 Brazil
Netherlands vs Argentina
Both of these sides were losing finalists in the 2010’s and will feel that they have a real shot at going all the way in this tournament. The Netherlands received criticism domestically about their style of play in the group stages, but outclassed a strong USA team in the second round to book their place in the quarters. Argentina also struggled to assert themselves in the early stages of their run, but have since been assured without necessarily blowing teams away.
Louis Van Gaal has seemingly brought a great team spirit to this Dutch side, which is something that cannot be underestimated as we enter the latter stages of the World Cup. His ability to take the pressure off his side in press conferences, as well as his experience as a tournament manager give this Netherlands team a puncher’s chance at continuing to progress through the rounds. Virgil Van Dijk and Nathan Aké have been sensational at the back, and in these two Van Gaal has some of the very best centre backs in the world. Going forward, Memphis Depay is finding form while Cody Gakpo’s price tag is rising after every game. The Dutch have weaknesses to exploit in the middle of the park, but if they win the battles in the first and last third, they will have a great chance at progressing.
Argentina on the other hand have laboured to every one of their victories, but will feel as if they are improving with every round of fixtures. While they struggled to put away Australia in the second round, they could have scored more and were relatively comfortable across 90 minutes. Lionel Messi will always be the focal point of this side for as long as he puts on an Argentina shirt, but Julian Alvarez has impressed up top and the Manchester City man is a dangerous finisher in the penalty area. In order to win this game, the team in blue and white will have to win the midfield battle, putting pressure on the likes of Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister. If these two can assert themselves with some aggression, as well as maintaining composure on the ball, Argentina can look to find their offensive danger men in positions higher up the pitch, allowing the likes of Messi, Di Maria, and Alvarez to cause problems for the Dutch back line.
These teams are very well matched up which should lead to a tight game of high quality. Argentina probably just have the edge in terms of personnel, but the togetherness of the Dutch side and their style of football will allow them to go toe-to-toe with their South American opponents. There is very little between the two sides and I can see this one going the distance.
Score Prediction: Netherlands 1-1 Argentina (Argentina on pens)