Croatia vs Brazil
Brazil were devastating against South Korea. The quality of their football was incredible. Say what you want about Korea’s performance but don’t let that take away from a 5 star samba show.
Richarlison scored probably the best goal of the night, his 3rd of the tournament.
When he pulls on that Brazil shirt, he’s a completely different player and seems to be channeling his inner Ronaldo.
He’s the focal point of their attack and every ball across the box seems to be gravitating towards him.
With the creativity of Neymar, Vini JR, Paqueta, Raphinha and co, the Spurs striker is in the prime location to convert the average xG of 2.39 that Brazil have produced in this World Cup so far.
Brozovic will start as Croatia’s midfield anchor here. A very tidy footballer but one with a hot head and a hard challenge.
He’s also got the task of trying to stop Neymar. Something that opponents so far have attempted by force.
Brazil’s main man has been fouled 12 times already at the tournament, despite limited minutes due to that early injury scare. With the minutes he’s played, that means Neymar is being felled 6.67 times P/90.
Brozovic has averaged 1.63 fouls P/90 in this tournament. He’s yet to be booked, which is key as his other two midfield companions; Modric and Kovacic, both have a yellow card to their name.
Modric and Kovacic would be suspended if they were booked here and Croatia were to make it through, meaning more emphasis is on Brozovic to lay down a marker in midfield.
Brozovic’s domestic card record is seriously impressive. He’s had at least 7 a season since 14/15, this season he’s already managed 5 in just 10 appearances for Inter Milan.
Netherlands vs Argentina
I’m one of those guys, if anyone but England is going to win it, I’d want it to be Argentina just so Messi can get his crowning moment.
Messi has scored in 3 of Argentina’s 4 games so far, only failing to register against Poland where he missed a penalty.
The fact Messi is so devastating from every area of the pitch means you always feel like there’s a chance.
From range, from free kicks, with jinking runs or intricate finishes, he really can do it all. Even when Argentina have struggled, he’s stepped up and grabbed the game by the throat.
Argentina have averaged an xG of 2.21 across their 4 World Cup games so there’s plenty of chances being created.
Netherlands are a good side but they don’t convince me defensively. Aside from VVD, their other defenders are rash and inconsistent and their style of play often leads them to being very open at the back.
Denzel Dumfries produced one of the performances of the tournament as Netherlands beat USA in the last round.
Dumfries registered 2 assists and a goal. I don’t expect him to get as much freedom here and he’ll need to do some more defending.
Only Jurrien Timber (12) has made more fouls than Dumfries in this Netherlands team.
He’s committed 11 so far, the next closest in the Dutch side is Koopmeiners on 5.
As devastating as Dumfries is going forward. He can be very rash defensively. He’s often clumsy in challenges and often guilty of excessive force.
He’ll likely line up agaisnt the very nimble and direct Papu Gomez. He’s not had loads of minutes so far, but in those that he has he’s been fouled a lot.
Gomez has played 107 minutes and has been fouled 5 times. That gives him the highest average P/90 (4.17) in the Argentina side, of any player who’s played 90+ minutes.
Dumfries will also likely come across a battle with Marcos Acuna. The left back is incredibly aggressive and of a similar mould to Dumfries.
He’s stocky, physical and enjoys getting forward but also being stuck in to a tackle.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it boiled over between these two. Acuna looked on the verge of losing control several times against Australia and Dumfries won’t take lightly to any roughing up.