Now that the Group Stages has drawn to a close in Qatar, the FIFA World Cup 2022 turns toward the Round of 16 today.
Sixteen teams, including France, Brazil, Portugal and Argentina, have made the knockouts in Qatar but there are a couple of heavyweights who did not: Belgium and Germany.
Today we will witness two fixtures as Netherlands takes on USA and Argentina faces Australia. The outcomes will determine these teams’ fate and destiny in World Cup 2022.
Remember that confirmed lineups will be available for the Netherlands v USA match about one hour prior to kickoff, giving you plenty of time to use your unlimited free transfers to react. Make sure you are here to see those S-11s!
R16 Match 1
Netherlands v USA
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium
Time: 3pm UK
FIFA Ranking: 3 v 16
The young United States team managed to claw its way into the Round of 16 where they are set to face the #8 team in the world, the Netherlands.
Louis van Gaal’s men topped Group A to secure their passage into the knockout stages, while the Stars and Stripes grabbed hold of the second spot in Group B behind England.
If ever there was a chance for the US, now seems the perfect time. The Dutch side were unbeaten throughout their group stage, but there were shaky moments, especially when they faced the Ecuador side that added further pressure thanks to their pressing ability. Despite the up-and-downs of this Dutch side, Louis van Gaal’s Orange Army are on a tremendous 18-match unbeaten run, and the US squad need to be at its best to run past them and create history.
Quick mention about the injury to “Captain America” Christian Pulisic. He suffered a pelvic contusion while scoring his winner against Iran. He was taken to the local hospital for “precautionary” reasons but he seems to be back with the squad and should lead from the first minute of the game. But Josh Sargent also left that fixture with an ankle injury after landing awkwardly on the ball, and his tears on the sidelines suggest he may not feature today.
For the Dutch, Barcelona’s’ Memphis Depay missed the Group Stage opener, then came from the bench for their second game, and then started and played 60 minutes against Qatar. His match fitness still seems uncertain so it is hard to know whether he will start or once again come off the bench against the States.
Prediction: 3 – 1
R16 Match 2
Argentina v Australia
Venue: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium
FIFA Ranking: 3 v 38
Argentina proved confidence and grit can overcome pedigree when they suffered their historic shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in the opening game. However, they rebounded to reach the knockout stage, now hoping to continue their bid to provide captain Lionel Messi with the World Cup title that he truly deserves.
Today they face another side with all the ability to provide another shocker in Australia. the Aussies knocked the so-called dark horses Denmark out of the campaign and have now progressed to just their second-ever World Cup knockout game.
The Socceroos will seek inspiration from the Saudis and chant the “Where is Messi” slogan, but the Argentinians will definitely not make it easy for them. Given the supernatural class that Messi displayed against Poland, it’s clear that the PSG star really means business, and this time he has enough talent around him to realize the World Cup dream he so richly deserves.
The biggest concern for Argentina is to the fitness of Angel Di Maria, who had a recent injury scare, but scans were reportedly reassuring. Meanwhile, the Aussie squad have no massive injury worries to deal with.
Prediction: 3 – 0
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What is your prediction in the R-16 fixtures? Do you think there will be an upset today? Any player you think will shine or flop? Join us and share your thoughts below in the comment section!