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  • Writer's pictureWill Uglow

2022 World Cup Predictions - Quarter Finals

As the first ever desert based World Cup reaches its concluding stages, things are certainly beginning to hot up. An enthralling and often surprising group stage was followed by a Last 16 phase that delivered spectacular team & individual performances, the odd upset (OK, one, admittedly...), and all the high end drama we associate with this prestigious competition. As the final eight prepare to face off for a place in the Semis, several enticing questions must be answered. Will the Messi factor be enough to see Argentina past a talented Dutch side? Can Morocco pull of a shock against another Iberian giant following their sensational spot kick dismissal of Spain? Who will emerge victorious in the clash of the World Champions and the Euros Runners Up? And, if you're Roy Keane, will those pesky Brazillians be able to resist disrespecting Croatia with those ridiculous dance moves of theirs? Let's hope that ITV have another studio pundit on standby for that one, just in case...

Croatia vs Brazil

We get underway on Friday afternoon with that clash between the steely Croats and their infernally gyrating South American opponents, who just happen to be able to play a bit too... Indeed, the Selecao put on a vintage attacking display against South Korea to breeze through to the last eight, but are likely to find the 2018 runners up a much tougher nut to crack. Croatia may only have won one game from four so far in Qatar, but that 4-1 thrashing of Canada was bookended by solid group stage draws with Morocco and Belgium, followed by a halting of dark horses Japan in the Last 16, no mean feat as Spain and Germany will testify. It is the Brazillians who possess the greater verve, energy and momentum than Croatia's ageing troops, however, and the men in sunshine yellow should be capable of eventually breaking down a stubborn wall of chequered resistance to set up a potential Semi Final clash against their great rivals...

Verdict: 1-0 Brazil win

Netherlands vs Argentina

A match-up that evokes instant memories of the 1998 Quarter Finals and Denis Bergkamp's wondrous winner for fans of a certain vintage, or younger followers who have been force fed the Dutchman's strike on a constant loop of YouTube highlight reels. That Marseille clash went down in World Cup folklore, and 24 years later this pair of familiar adversaries look capable of producing another high quality spectacle for the crowd inside the Lusail Stadium. Saudi Arabia aside, the road to this stage has been largely smooth for both outfits, and the sense is that the hard graft really begins here. With just four goals conceded in a combined eight games, both sides appear to be defensively sound (await the incoming goal avalanche, then) and this is therefore likely to be a tense affair, settled by fine margins and potentially going the full distance, as in the 0-0 Semi-Final of 2014 edged by the Albiceleste. Whilst the result may be similar, however, the amount of sparkle upfront for both sides should leave fans hopeful that they aren't in for another goalless encounter.

Verdict: 1-1 draw (Argentina win on penalties)

England vs France

Tie of the round? Quite possibly, as the fearsome looking World Champions go up against a free wheeling Three Lions side who lack their silverware but are at an increasingly advanced stage of their development arc. A lot of the pre-match talk has been centred around a certain Kylian Mbappe, quite understandably given that the 23 year old currently sets the pace in the Golden Boot race with 5 strikes already in Qatar, but this game is about more than simply how England keep the PSG speedster quiet. Olivier Giroud, who set a new Les Bleus scoring record with his opener against Poland, and the ever lively Antoine Griezmann spearhead a rather frightening supporting cast, whilst the Three Lions' multitude of attacking talents, including Bukayo Saka and a finally-off-the-mark Harry Kane, are more than capable of causing France's back line serious problems. All signs are that we should be in for a close but high quality and entertaining affair between these two old foes. France possess the greater experience and understanding of how to see out these big games, however, and therefore have a small but potentially crucial edge.

Verdict: 2-1 France win

Morocco vs Portugal

Just the fourth African side to reach this stage of the competition in World Cup history, Morocco deserve enormous credit for making it this deep into proceedings, especially after topping a group containing Belgium and Croatia. After following that up with a superb spot kick victory over Spain, the other Iberian side will hold little fear for the Atlas Lions, although every clash against a supposedly elite side from here on in places greater pressure on their currently excellent defensive record (only one goal conceded so far). Portugal could be just the team to exploit a back line that may be close to its limit. The benching of Cristiano Ronaldo in their Last 16 clash against Switzerland hinted at a team on the brink of chaos, before a hat trick from CR7's replacement, the previously little known Goncalo Ramos, inspired a 6-1 drubbing (far from my 'tight victory on penalties' prediction) that revitalised Portugal's tournament following last gasp defeat to South Korea in their final group game. Coupled with the unexpected exit of their near neighbours, the mood in their camp may have turned from impending dismay to rampant optimism. The Moroccans, despite their brave run, may feel the wrath of that new found confidence here...

Verdict: 3-1 Portugal win

Think these predictions are more wayward than a Romelu Lukaku header against Croatia? Deliver your verdict in the comments section below...

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