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FIFA World Cup – Quarter Finals Preview

After a World Cup Round of 16 that saw every favourite bar Morocco progress, we’ve reached the pointy end of proceedings in Qatar with a host of mouthwatering quarter-finals.

Croatia v Brazil, Saturday 2:00am (AEDT)

  • History: Brazil 3, Croatia 0, Draws 1
  • Most recent: Brazil 2 – 0 Croatia (June 2018, International Friendly)

Brazil’s four-goal first half against South Korea was the most devastating, captivating 45 minutes of football we’ve seen this World Cup. Some have compared it to the Nike Football adverts of the early noughties, trasferring the famous airport commercial to the pitch. The neutrals want this show to roll on, and many will be backing Brazil ($1.40) to salute as the biggest favourites of the four quarter-final clashes. 2018 finalists Croatia are diametrically opposite to Brazil’s ‘Joga Bonito’ football. Two 0-0 draws in the group stage attests to this. A side full of ageing legends, Croatia simply can’t go toe-to-toe in an attacking sense or they’ll be carved up on the counter. As such, we can expect the $8 underdogs to sit back and remain compact, hoping for something special from Ivan Perisic or Andrej Kramaric on the break.

Tip: Half time/Full time, Brazil/Brazil @ $2.00

Netherlands v Argentina, Saturday 6:00am (AEDT)

  • History: Netherlands 4, Argentina 3, Draws 2
  • Most recent: Argentina 0 – 0 Netherlands (July 2014, FIFA World Cup)

The rubber hits the road on Lionel Messi’s hopes of finishing his career with the one piece of silverware that’s eluded him throughout an illustrious career. The Argentines were too good for the Socceroos in the Round of 16, but their game management was poor in the final stages. The fact that Garang Kuol had a chance to equalise in the final stages says that Argentina ($2.20 favourites in this one) are more vulnerable than many thought heading into this World Cup, a tournament they started as second favourites behind Brazil. They desperately missed Angel Di Maria against the Aussies, and hope he can start in this one.

The Dutch ($3.60) coasted through their Round of 16 tie against the US. And with a six-day break heading into this one, will be refreshed and primed for an upset. Louis van Gaal’s side are tough to pin down. At times conservative, there are other periods the Oranje look electric with the likes of Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo surging forward. Having scored in three of their four games in Qatar, Gakpo looms as a potential Dutch match-winner.

Tip: Both teams to score @ $2.02

Morocco v Portugal, Sunday 2:00am (AEDT)

  • History: Morocco 1, Portugal 1, Draws 0
  • Most recent: Portugal 1 – 0 Morocco (June 2018, FIFA World Cup)

Two virtual neighbours from differing continents, this clash could be the most electric of quarter-finals weekend. Portugal ($1.66) are coming off a staggering 6-1 win over Switzerland that officially heralded a new era. In that game, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 21-year-old replacement Gonçalo Ramos banged in a hat-trick that almost certainly means he will start over his five-time Ballon d’Or-winning teammate in this match and, should they progress, matches to come. Ramos starts as a $5.50 first goalscorer chance with Palmerbet in this one.

Morocco ($5.50) are the story of the World Cup. The Turkey of 2002. They largely sat back against Spain in their Round of 16 victory and, while they struggled to create any real chances of note before progressing in penalties, were compact in defence. They effectively repelled Spain’s death-by-a-thousand-passes approach. However Portugal possess a stronger attacking unit than the Spanish, and while their counter-attack focused approach is undoubtedly the right one for an underdog in this calibre match, it will be put to the ultimate test.

Tip: Portugal -1.0 @ $2.87

France v England, Sunday 6:00am (AEDT)

  • History: England 17, France 9, Draws 5
  • Most recent: France 3 – 2 England (June 2017, International Friendly)

The pick of the quarter finals this World Cup, without doubt. Reigning champions France ($2.40) take on Euro 2020 finalists England ($3.20) in an encounter that is decidedly tough to pick a winner. Naturally pre-game chat has centred heavily on the form of Kylian Mbappé — in the eyes of many judges the world’s best player — after a devastating brace against Poland. Whether England can stop Mbappé will be a huge determining factor in this one. But any over-intense focus on the PSG man could prove unwise such is the form of Antoine Griezmann, and what he could do to Gareth Southgate’s men if let off the leash. Two structurally strong sides, it looms as a game of chess rather than a shootout.

Tip: Number of Goals, 0 or 1 @ $3.26

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