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The World Cup quarterfinals have some incredible matchups

The World Cup quarterfinals matchups feature legitimate contenders, a scrappy underdog, and no shortage of interesting storylines

The 2022 World Cup will be the quickest one ever. Only 28 days between start and finish, and now we’re into the quarterfinals. It’s sad to see the tournament almost come to an end. They’re no bad teams at this stage, and this weekend will provide some great matches. 

Jogo Bonito against Cardiac Croatia

Brazil danced their way into the quarterfinals. Seriously, they used a 4-0 first half to demolish South Korea 4-1 in the round of 16. How the heck do you stop this Jogo Bonito? It makes total sense why Brazil was the favorite coming into the tournament. Neymar, Vinicius Jr, and Richarlison are a deadly attacking trio. Add in midfielders like Casemiro and Lucas Paqueta, and it’s hard to find any weak spots on this team. 

It feels like something special this year for Brazil. They’ve endured so much heartbreak in the last couple of World Cups, and now they’ve decided to go all gas, no brakes.  

Croatia, meanwhile, is like the horror movie villain you can’t put away. Three of their previous four World Cup knockout stage wins have come from penalty shootouts. They can remain calm under pressure, defeating Japan 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 tie in 120 minutes in the round of 16. They’re a team who’s able to hang with most teams. However, they have recorded three draws in four games, and that penalty shootout luck is bound to run out at some point.

Let’s make it short and straightforward: Brazil is playing at a different level right now and should win pretty easily. And at -480, Vegas really seems to think so, as well. 

Is this the year for Messi and Argentina? 

The Netherlands are undefeated through four matches topping Group A, and showed their veteran experience with a 3-1 win against the USMNT in the round of 16. There’s not much to pick at here: The Netherlands are just a well-rounded team top to bottom and extremely well-coached. They don’t need many scoring opportunities because they make the most of the ones they get. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, Argentina was in trouble. They had lost their opening group match to Saudi Arabia 2-1, ending their 36-match unbeaten streak. The sky was falling, and they were one defeat away from potentially exiting the Cup. But, the magic of Lionel’s Messi left foot propelled them again. 

Argentina rounded out their group with 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland, then edged out a fighting Australian team 2-1 in the round of 16. It’s never been comfortable, but Argentina is exactly where they expected to be. Good teams bounce back when they face adversity. And, of course, it always helps to have Messi.

This should be an extremely close match, and I see this match finishing with a low score after regulation, either 1-1 or 0-0. If a penalty shoot occurs, I could only imagine this benefiting the Netherlands due to their goalkeeper Andries Noppert measuring 6 feet 8 inches. Give me the upset with the Netherlands to advance at +132.

Morocco just happy to make the quarterfinals

What a fairy tale it’s been for Morocco. Their manager Walid Regragui was only appointed a little over three months ago. They won their group with victories over Belgium and Canada and defeated mighty Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regulation. Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou managed to keep the Spaniards from scoring a penalty. Reaching the quarterfinals is already their best-ever finish at a World Cup, and everyone loves an underdog story. However, all good things must come to an end.

Imagine finding out Portugal scored six goals without Cristiano Ronaldo even starting the match. Portugal thrashed Switzerland 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals. It seemed like Switzerland was ready to board the plane as soon as the game started. But it’s hard to blame them, as this Portugal attack is deadly. Even 39-year-old Pepe is getting into the action. 

There aren’t many teams who could bench a player like Ronaldo and have his 21-year-old replacement Goncalo Ramos score a hat trick. Rafael Leao can’t stop smiling and scoring goals, and Joao Felix is playing like the wonder boy people expected him to be. Portugal has scored twelve goals so far this tournament, tied for the most of any remaining team, and the Portuguese dream is closer to reality than ever. 

Portugal won’t walk over Morocco as they did Switzerland. Morocco is resilient, and their game plan could be similar to their lay-back approach against Spain. However, with Portugal’s attack, you can only contain them for so long until they crack the code. The fairytale ends here. Portugal at -310 is the smart pick. 

England vs. France looks like a World Cup final

I can’t wait for this one. England won their group with two solid wins vs. Iran and Wales, with a hiccup scoreless draw against the USMNT. Then they defeated an outstanding Senegal team 3-0 to reach the last eight. Harry Kane is still scoring goals, Jude Bellingham’s transfer price goes up every second, and it’s a group that has played together for a long time while also staying young. But we all know the real question: can they contain Kylian Mbappe?

It’s a big question, as the defending champs are looking to go back-to-back. It’s unreal how much depth they have, as injuries to key players such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kante haven’t slowed down France at all. Having the best young player in the world certainly helps.

Some of the world’s most talented players will be on display. Both squads have the potential to score at any given moment, but France has looked crazy dominant, and Mbappe can score anywhere inside the box or outside. This match could be a coin flip, but Vegas sees a 55-45 edge for France. I like that edge.