The Netherlands and Argentina became the first teams to progress to the Quarterfinals when they got the better of the USA and Australia on the first day of the Round of 16. Both teams avoided defeat after mini-scares which saw their opposition draw claw back goals in the second half.
On this second day of Round of 16 play, France tilts against Poland and England takes on Senegal. Let's have a look at what to expect in these fixtures.
France v Poland
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium
Time: 3pm UK
FIFA ranking: 4 v 26
Defending Champions France will take on Poland as clear favorites, having qualified for the Round of 16 with a game to spare. A rotated Les Blues squad suffered defeat in its last group game against Tunisia, but will now be able to call on well-rested stars for this fixture.
Led by the outstanding and quick-footed Kylian Mbappe, France has mastered the art of punishing opponents on the counterattack. Time and time again during the group stage, opposing teams who left themselves exposed at the back while attempting to push forward were ambushed by Mbappe’s pace and trickery.
While the Les Blues has looked almost unstoppable going forward, there have been concerns at the back. The French defense has failed to convince in all three group stage matches, conceding in all three.
Lack of stability in the center of defense could be one of the problems, as Deschamp is yet to start the same center-back pairing twice. This is an area Poland should be looking to exploit in this fixture.
Poland has been far from impressive in its World Cup campaign. While they boast the likes of Milik and Lewandoski going forward, the team has done little to get the best out of their world-class forwards.
Poland manager Czesław Michniewicz has deployed a defensive setup in all three group-stage matches. The Poles were outplayed every time, scoring only against Saudi Arabia in a match that many would argue the Saudis should have won.
Speculation concerning this fixture has centered around the the potential for the Poles to once again park the bus and wait for a penalty kick shootout to secure progress into the next round. Indeed, it’s been reported that the team has been doing a lot of penalty kick practice.
Prediction: 2 - 0
England v Senegal
Venue: Ivan Barton
Time: 7pm UK
FIFA ranking: 5 v 18
It will be the battle of Lions when the Three Lions of England take on the Teranga Lions of Senegal in the fourth quarterfinal fixture of World Cup Qatar.
The Three Lions came into the World Cup as one of the nations with the strongest odds of lifting the trophy, and the team hasn’t done much to dissuade believers over the course of its three Group Stage games.
England began its campaign with a straightforward 6-2 victory over Iran and rounded it up with a 3 - nil victory over Wales. While the team’s attack looked unstoppable in both of those fixtures, it was stymied in the clash against the USA.
USA are the only team that pushed England and tried to press high, a tactic with which the Three Lions struggled to cope. England were outplayed and out-thought by the Americans, and only some last ditch defending stopped the Three Lions from suffering a defeat.
England will be without Ben White who left the camp due to personal reasons.
Africa’s only flag-bearer to make it to the Round of 16, Senegal will have every African including myself cheering for them when they take on the Three Lions (sorry Stall!).
Senegal in their three Group Stage fixtures showed that they are a team that likes to press high up the pitch. The Teranga Lions bounced back from a late defeat in their opening-match to the Netherlands, going on to defeat Qatar and Ecuador to secure their Round of 16.
In the absence of talisman Sadio Mane, Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr has been the team’s go-to man in Qatar. Sarr has stepped up, regularly beating his man and creating chances for his teammates. His match-up with Kyle Walker (or Trippier) on the left will be crucial to Senegal’s chances in this fixture.
Prediction: 1 - 2
Who will win England vs Senegal?
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Who will win France vs Poland?
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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!