Now for the serious stuff. The knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup are upon us. This is where it really hots up. The margin for error is now close to zero, one mistake and you’re out.
The first helping of Last-16 matches sees the Netherlands take on the USA, while the Argentinians, who recovered superbly after their match-day one defeat, will take on an Australian side that surprised many by making it beyond the group stages.
Netherlands vs USA
- Netherlands 1.95
- USA 4.00
- Draw 3.25
To kick the knockout stages off, the Netherlands play the USA at Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha.
It was relatively simple stuff for the Dutch in Group A. They avoided defeat, won two of their three games, scored five and conceded just one, making it to the knockout stages without ever really needing to get out of second gear. Now, though, they must step it up and show that they can perform when the going gets tough.
The USA were quietly impressive in Group B. They didn’t turn many heads with their reasonably pragmatic approach, but they played some tidy football, kept the ball well in games, and gave little away. The Dutch may be favourites for this tie at most betting sites, and rightly so, but they’ll have to come up with some useful attacking play to hurt an American team that looks quite solid.
The big question hanging over the US is can they do enough offensively to hurt teams? So far, it’s hard to say anything other than no to the question. Sure, they’ve played some eye-catching football, especially in midfield, where the likes of Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie can keep possession and knock it about well, but beyond that, they’ve looked slightly toothless.
During the group stages, Greb Berhalter’s men scored only two goals, which is a little bit worrying, and it’s not as if they were firing on all cylinders prior to touching down in the middle east, as they’ve scored one goal in three games, failing to score in three of their previous five.
In contrast, we’ve seen plenty of attacking threats from the Dutch, who are often pragmatic themselves under the wily stewardship of Louis van Gaal, but when push comes to shove, they have lots of offensive quality.
The exciting and dynamic Cody Gakpo has scored three goals already this tournament, while the likes of Davy Klaasen, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay and Steven Berghuis all offer something offensively, whether it’s goals or chance creation. That could be the big difference between the two teams.
With their extra offensive quality, the Dutch look like a good bet to get the job done. It probably won’t be easy, and their win is unlikely to be emphatic, but it is they who have more about them in the final third, which should help them to send the Stars and Stripes packing.
- Score Prediction Netherlands 2-0 USA
- Netherlands to Win @ 1.95
- Bookmaker: BetOnline
Argentina vs Australia
- Argentina 1.25
- Australia 12.00
- Draw 6.00
The second of the Round-of-16 fixtures sees one of the pre-tournament favourites in Argentina take on Australia at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.
After a poor start, at least in terms of the result, the Argentines bounced back nicely, beating both Mexico and Poland by two goals to nil. The men in those famous blue and white stripes once again look like a team capable of going deep into the competition.
For the Australians, this will be something of an unexpected bonus. Sure, every team wants to compete, and it’s certainly every team’s goal to advance from the group stages, but the men from down under probably didn’t expect to get this far, especially as the lowest-ranked team in their group. However, they’ve fought incredibly hard at this tournament and have played some decent stuff with the ball, so they’re worthy of their place in the final 16, which cannot be denied.
Unfortunately for the Socceroos, they’re up against a team with far more in terms of quality, especially in the final third, and that’s an issue. Yes, they were resolute, rigid and disciplined against both the Danish and the Tunisians, but neither of those opponents offered much offensively, nor did they really have anyone capable of creating regular scoring chances.
The Argentinians have perhaps the most creative player the game has ever seen in Lionel Messi, who, during the last two games, has looked as determined as ever to get his hands on football’s ultimate prize. They also have a whole host of attacking players that can do lots of damage, while their back-line gives little away, too, as both Mexico and Poland found out.
At odds of 2.40, ‘Argentina to Win & Under 3.5 Goals’ stand out as a viable option. We know that the Australians aren’t going to come out and play here. We know that Grahan Arnold’s men lack the offensive quality and the attacking cohesion to go toe-to-toe with La Selección, so it’s almost certainly going to be helmets on and 11 men behind the ball sort of stuff from the Socceroos.
Messi & Co. will be prepared for a pick-the-lock sort of job here, and they’ll know that they’ll have to be patient. Ultimately, they’ve shown, especially against Mexico, that they can win in a low-key fashion.
They’re strong at the back and can take their time, so we shouldn’t expect them to come out and batter Australia by four, five or six just because they have better-attacking players. Another hard-working victory from the Argentines is expected, and bettors can profit by taking a punt on a combination of an Argentina win and less than four match goals being scored.
- Score Prediction 2-0 Argentina
- Argentina to Win & Under 3.5 Goals @ 2.40
- Bookmaker: Bodog