World Cup 2022, day 20: It’s the quarter-finals

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Brazil are looking for their sixth World Cup title [Reuters]

Croatia take on five-time World Cup winners Brazil before a Netherlands-Argentina bout in Qatar on December 9.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup’s quarter-finals are here.

  • Croatia vs Brazil at Education City Stadium, 6pm (15:00 GMT)
  • Netherlands vs Argentina at Lusail Stadium, 10pm (19:00 GMT)

What you need to know about Qatar World Cup 2022

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Croatia vs Brazil

Croatia is bracing itself for a “terrifying” Brazilian squad that’s eyeing its sixth World Cup after convincingly thumping South Korea 4-1 in the round of 16.

“Brazil is the favourite, let’s face it,” Croatia’s manager Zlatko Dalic told reporters in Doha on Tuesday. “Brazil is the most powerful and the best national team at the World Cup.”

Brazil’s Neymar, temporarily sidelined after suffering an ankle injury against Serbia, shone in his return against South Korea, netting his 76th goal. The Paris Saint-Germain forward is now one goal shy of tying Pele’s 77 goals as Brazil’s all-time highest scorer. Neymar, 30, could even the score with Pele on Friday, as the team rallies around the legendary footballer, 82, who was hospitalised last week with a respiratory infection amid his battle with colon cancer.

Croatia, who stunned Japan 3-1 on penalties in their first elimination match after drawing 1-1 — their third tie of the tournament, apart from steamrolling Canada 4-1 — head into Friday’s match a colossal underdog, despite their runner-up finish at the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA fined Croatia 50,000 Swiss francs ($53,000) on Wednesday for verbal abuse the Adriatic nation’s fans inflicted upon Canadian goalkeeper, Milan Borjan, in the two teams’ group stage clash.

Netherlands vs Argentina

The Netherlands, led by the tournament’s oldest coach, the orange tie-wearing, 71-year-old “Iron Tulip” Louis van Gaal, head into Friday’s match with Lionel Messi and company on the heels of a 19-game winning streak nearly a week after ousting the USA in the round of 16.

Dutch star Cody Gakpo, who has wrought havoc on opponents with a trio of goals at the 2022 World Cup, is trailing France’s Kylian Mbappe by two goals for the coveted Golden Boot.

Messi, who scored his first knockout round goal in Argentina’s 2-1 roasting of Australia, his ninth in 23 World Cup games, will look to tie with La Albiceleste legend Gabriel Batistuta as the team’s all-time leading tournament scorer in Friday’s match. It’s not only do or die for Argentina — but Messi, too. The football superstar, who has yet to hoist the Coupe du Monde, is playing in his fifth and likely final World Cup.

The Netherlands have only lost once in the past nine contests against Argentina — the 1978 World Cup final in Buenos Aires. They’ve twice been beaten in a shootout by Argentina, however, the most recent coming during a scoreless 2014 semi-final that resulted in Argentina winning on penalties.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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