It has been a hellish two days without any World Cup action so thankfully the quarter-finals now are here and each one has something to attract our attention and get us excited. The wait is almost over and the even better news is that we have Nuggets aplenty.
We start with an absolute humdinger that will undoubtedly set the pace for the a wondrous two days of action.
BRAZIL – CROATIA The tournament favourites have not disappointed even though the expectations are always just south of stratospheric whenever the Seleçao take to the pitch. Their opponents are no sacrificial lambs, Croatia boast a 100% record at this stage of the World Cup. Admittedly they have only been in two – 1998 and 2018, while Brazil face their seventeenth quarter-final. They have won eleven and lost five, three of which have come in the last four tournaments.
Also Croatia are one of only four unbeaten sides in 2022 – England, Morocco and Netherlands are the others – Brazil let their invincibility slip in a dead rubber against Cameroon. Both sides have been resolute and conceded only two goals each. One other issue to factor in is Croatia’s seeming penchant for extra time. Of their last five World Cup knock-out matches, four have gone to extra time and they have won all three penalty shoot-outs.
NETHERLANDS – ARGENTINA Argentina are familiar opponents for Netherlands, this will be their sixth meeting and the Dutch have never met a country more often at a World Cup. There have been some classic encounters including the 1978 final in Buenos Aries and their only quarter-final meeting in 1998 when that Bergkamp goal sealed the Oranje’s win.
The Dutch have a very good quarter-final record, winning five and losing just one in 1994 3-2 to the eventual champions, Brazil. Argentina have also won five but have lost four including that match in Marseille. Naturally much of the attention will focus on Lionel Messi who almost certainly has one last shot at the ultimate prize in football. Argentina have recovered from the seismic shock of their opening loss to Saudi Arabia and are the only side to have won their last three matches in 90 minutes.
Have a listen to the World Cup Nuggets Group round-up podcast with special guest Kate Mason right here – https://bit.ly/3us3PT7