The World Cup’s knockout phase opens with a tasty Round of 16 clash between the Netherlands and USA at the Khalifa International Stadium today, and though the Oranje have been priced as favourites to prevail, the Americans have shown plenty of bite as underdogs in Qatar.
Both teams carry unbeaten Group Stage records into the winner-takes-all showdown in Al Rayyan, and the prize on offer for the victor could be a high-profile encounter with Argentina in the quarter-finals.
We’ve assembled an info-laden stats pack for this afternoon’s Round of 16 contest, which is dripping with useful nuggets of info on shots, shots on target, xG, cards, corners and more from teams’ World Cup fixtures to date. Use this data along with my Stats Pack Guide when putting your bet builders together later on.
Dutch boss Louis van Gaal has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from ahead of the Netherlands’ day of destiny. Marten de Roon and Memphis Depay played in Tuesday’s win over Qatar, though both could drop to the bench again here.
There have been a few grumbles about the Netherlands’ style of play in Qatar, however, with results good so far, van Gaal is unlikely to mix things up tactically against the Americans.
The USA have slight worries over Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie, who are nursing ankle and quad complaints respectively, though both will be given every chance to make Gregg Berhalter’s XI.
McKennie has been a key performer in an energetic American midfield alongside Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams. Christian Pulisic hurt himself when netting USA’s winner against Iran on matchday three, though he assured fans of his availability for today’s game on social media shortly after full-time.
The Netherlands haven’t exactly set pulses racing with their approach in Qatar and a glance at their underlying World Cup stats shines an unflattering light on their output in the final third.
The Oranje ranked 24th out of 32 teams for shots attempted per 90 (8.33) in the group stage, while just a handful of sides managed fewer shots on target (2.66). That handful does include the USA however, so slender margins could be the phrase of the day in Al Rayyan.
Netherlands’ goals against figures look healthy, though their xG against has outweighed their xG for so far, which suggests luck has played as big a part for them as good defending has.
The USA mustered slightly more shots per 90 (9.33) than their Dutch opponents during the group phase but slightly less shots on target (2.33), though the Americans’ defensive numbers highlight their stronger showing in that department.
The USA limited opponents to just 1.66 shots on target and 1.00 xG per 90 and perhaps most impressively, they kept England off the scoresheet and restricted them to a mean 0.92 xG on matchday two. England scored nine times combined in their other two group fixtures.
USA’s corner counts, both for and against, compare favourably to the Netherlands which suggests the Stars and Stripes could be the ones to focus on in that market.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Memphis Depay tops the pile for the Netherlands in both shot metrics, though the Barcelona attacker has started only once in Qatar so far and his numbers should be treated accordingly.
Cody Gakpo has been the Oranje’s standout performer in attack and the in-demand PSV starlet has added to his burgeoning reputation with laser-accurate shooting (1.08 shots on target p/90).
Elsewhere, Daley Blind is a reliable lieutenant for Louis van Gal and the 32-year-old has been averaging one shot per game at the World Cup from his position at left wing-back.
Haji Wright (3.19 shots p/90) has packed a lot into his 112 of action in Qatar, though two of his three appearances in the group stage for USA came off the bench and he will probably start there again today.
Christian Pulisic (2.40) rarely lets his nation down and the 24-year-old has the technical tools to tear open the Dutch defence today. Josh Sargent (2.29) has been a handful at centre-forward without much of an end product (0.57 shots on target per 90). However, if it’s a raw numbers guy you’re after in the shot market, then the Norwich forward could be your man.
Player Goals and Assists
Cody Gakpo could become the first Netherlands player to score in four successive World Cup matches today and the 23-year-old will be desperate to make history by repeating his group stage heroics in the Round of 16.
The largely unheralded Davy Klassen has chipped in with three goal contributions in three appearances (1G, 2A) though beyond the Ajax midfield and Gakpo, pickings are relatively slim for the Oranje.
Frenkie de Jong netted against Qatar, though that was his first international goal since 2019 and second in 48 appearances for his country overall and his effort is unlikely to spark a flurry of goals for the deep-lying playmaker.
Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah top the scorers’ charts for USA with a single World Cup strike each, while the Chelsea winger and AC Milan’s Sergino Dest have claimed one assist apiece.
Both Pulisic and Weah rank joint-first for the Americans for xG (0.6) in Qatar and it might make sense to narrow your search for possible US goalscorers to those two.
Pulisic has also posted more shot-creating actions (10) than any other American player (or Dutchman) in Qatar, though Yunus Musah has created seven chances for teammates and the 20-year-old could be a longer-odds option to mull over in the assists market.
Matthijs de Ligt and Nathan Ake collected one booking each for the Netherlands, though the Oranje might have amassed more had their 15.7 fouls per game been more readily punished. Only three nations have committed more fouls in Qatar overall.
Jurrien Timber (4.50) has been particularly naughty and should be watched on the right side of the Dutch defence today. In midfield, Teun Koopmeiners (3.64) has been the Netherlands’ hardest hitter and he could dish out more bumps and bruises today against his quarrelsome US counterparts.
It probably won’t shock you to learn that the influential Christian Pulisic (3.20 p/90) has been USA’s most-fouled player at the World Cup and the wide attacker could be knocked about again by the impetuous Jurrien Timber today.
With Haji Wright and Brenden Aaronson expected to be handed watching briefs to begin with, the midfield battle zone deserves more focus. In that area, Tyler Adams and Yunus Mensah could be booted by Koopmeiners and Matthijs de Ligt, when the latter steps forward to join the action from the Netherlands’ three-man defensive line.
Match-Ups to watch
Denzel Dumfries vs Yunus Mensah
Frenkie de Jong vs Tyler Adams
Jurrien Timber vs Christian Pulisic
Five US players in total and four of their expected starters today risk being suspended for the quarter-finals if they are cautioned, but don’t expect any thoughts of possible bans to take the edge off their tackling.
The Americans’ three-man midfield has earned plenty of praise for its industry and aggression in Qatar. Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams have already been booked, though Yunus Musah hasn’t despite committing more fouls than his compatriots (Musah nine, McKennie six, Adams, five).
Any one of the USA’s trio of buzzing engine-room operators look like decent card candidates today.
Denzel Dumfries has been fouled 2.0 times per 90 minutes in Qatar and his position at right wing-back should place him in orbit of Americans’ tough-tackling midfield. As the furthest left member of that trio, Yunus Musah could be the one to administer the punishment.
More centrally, Frenkie de Jong and Davy Klassen have been fouled three times each in the World Cup’s early exchanges and both schemers should expect a physical battle against Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie today.
Match-Ups to watch
Weston McKennie vs Frenkie de Jong
Tyler Adams vs Davy Klassen
Yunus Musah vs Denzel Dumfries