The 2022 Fifa World Cup Quarter finals are finally upon us! With only 8 teams remaining, things are starting to really heat up after plenty of scorching performances and a historic upset in the Round of 16.
But things will certainly come to a boil when two of the tournament favourites clash in a true World Cup classic when Netherlands meet Argentina on Friday at the Lusail Iconic Stadium at 7pm GMT.
The Netherlands’ road to the Quarter finals has been as straightforward as they come. With 2 wins in the group stage - against Senegal and Qatar - and one draw against Ecuador, the Dutch side progressed top of Group A with 7 points and 5 goals in their name, having only conceded once.
In the Round of 16, they faced off against a young USA team with plenty to prove. Managing to keep England to a goalless draw - and more importantly, having had the better chances of the two - it was expected the US could rise up to the challenge and make life hard for the Dutch.
However, this was not to be, as the Dutch managed to take complete control over the game from the very start, playing swift passing football and not allowing the US to see much of the ball at all.
In fact, the first goal of the match would come from a fantastic collective player, where after a total of 20 passes, the Dutch Dumfries put a fantastic ball into the box for Memphis Depay to score with a clinical first touch.
After a second goal that was practically a carbon copy of the first, the US managed to react by pulling a goal back, giving them a lifeline back into the game. The hope of a turnaround didn’t last them long, however, as soon after, Dumfries put away yet another chance created from the flanks to give Netherlands a convincing victory and a clinical display in front of goal that was sure to give the Argentine defenders some nightmares before the match.
Argentina famously came into this World Cup on the back of a 36 match unbeaten streak, only to lose their first match against minnows Saudi Arabia in what was surely one of the biggest shocks of the cup.
However, rather than let this loss get to their heads and allow it to hinder their World Cup run, the South American giants bounced back with solid wins against Mexico and Poland, led by impressive performances by their captain, Lionel Messi.
It was not much different when they met a fiery Australian side in the Round of 16, where Lionel Messi would get to celebrate his 1000th cap by opening the scoring with a signature low and left strike from between 3 defenders that left the keeper helpless.
Julian Alvarez would go on to produce a sensational goal as he dispossessed the Aussie keeper from the ball, a blunder that left Alvarez with a free shot on open goal. However, the match was not over as Australia managed to peg one back thanks to a huge deflection on a strike that wasn’t even headed for goal.
Lionel Messi was at his best in the 2nd half, putting on a show for the fans and laying on 3 assists on a golden platter to his teammates. Unfortunately, reminiscent of their 2014 World Cup campaign, all those chances were brutally squandered, leaving Argentina dangerously close to a last minute draw which was only stopped by a magnificent save from Martinez.
While the 2-1 scoreline does not really tell the story of how comfortable Argentina was in this match, unless they can manage to take their chances against the Netherlands, they are bound to suffer.
Football fans around the world are definitely salivating at one of the juiciest match-ups the World Cup has produced so far.
While the Netherlands boasts a better overall record against the Albiceleste - with four wins and two draws over nine games, when it comes to World Cup football they are evenly matched, each having 2 wins and 1 draw.
The last time they met was in 2006, where Sergio Romero’s penalty shootout heroics led to Argentina coming out on top.
A very telling statistic, however, is the Netherlands have not failed to win a Quarterfinals match ever since 1994, while Argentina has only progressed from this round once out of their last 4 cups.
Additionally, it is now the Netherlands that comes into this match with an impressive unbeaten run, which has now grown to 19 matches.
Expect plenty of excitement and close calls in this match, as both attack-minded teams will push for the win. At odds of 2.50 at Comeon, the over is looking mighty tempting on this one!