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Friday's Sport: World Cup end-game begins in Qatar

The World Cup returns from a two-day hiatus on Friday and this, as they say, is where the wheat will be separated from the chaff.

Just eight nations remains in the hunt to lift the Jules Rimet trophy next Sunday and, as the quarter-finals take centre stage, the tournament has entered the business end. 

Friday offers a pair of Europe v South America clashes as Lionel Messi bids to take a step closer to immortality. 

There's also Champions Cup rugby to enjoy as another bumper weekend of sport looms large. 

Brazil face proven Croatia

What: Croatia v Brazil
Where: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar
When: 15:00, Friday 9th December 2022
How to watch: BBC One 
Odds: Brazil 4/11, Draw 15/4, Croatia 15/2

Brazil have looked good so far but now Neymar, Richarlison and Co face a stern test in the shape of 2018 finalists Croatia. 

Seven of Croatia's last eight knockout matches at major international tournaments have gone to at least extra time - the draw Full Time Result is 4/1

This will be the third time Croatia and Brazil have locked horns at the World Cup, with A Selecao winning the other two meetings during the group stages in 2006 and 2014.

Brazil have, however, been knocked out at the quarter-final stage of three of the last four World Cups, losing to European opposition on each occasion, and so Tite will be wary of this next step. 

Pretenders set for Iconic test

What: Netherlands v Argentina
Where: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Al Daayen, Qatar
When: 19:00 Friday 9th December 2022 
How to watch: BBC One
Odds: Netherlands 13/5, Draw 21/10, Argentina 16/5

A classic World Cup rivalry resumes on Friday evening. Argentina won the most memorable of their previous World Cup showdowns, claiming a 3-1 victory in the 1978 final on home soil, while they also triumphed on penalties when the two most recently locked horns in the 2014 semi-finals in Brazil.

The most famous Dutch win over Argentina at the World Cup did come at this quarter-final stage back in 1998, when a moment of individual brilliance from Dennis Bergkamp inspired them to a 2-1 victory in Marseille.

Messi has scored three times and registered one assist, galvanising his side to top their group despite their shock loss in their opener against Saudi Arabia. Messi is 9/2 to win the Golden Ball (FIFA Player of the Tournament) and if he hoists the Jules Rimet trophy next week, who would bet against him?

Three times runners-up, the Netherlands are undoubtedly the nation with the best footballing history to have never won the World Cup. Can they end their quest in Qatar? Louis van Gaal's side are 16/1 for the World Cup Outright. 

London Irish get European campaign under way

What: London Irish v Montpellier 
Where: Gtech Community Stadium, Brentford
When: 20:00 Friday 9th December 2022 
How to watch: BT Sports
Odds: London Irish 6/5, Draw 20/1, Montpellier 8/11

London Irish welcome French Top 14 champions Montpellier in the opening game of this season's Champions Cup on Friday evening.

Irish host the Pool B encounter on their return to elite European competition after over a decade away, with last season seeing them reach the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

Montpellier, meanwhile, reached the quarter-finals of last season's Champions Cup and currently sit fifth in their domestic league, while Irish are second-bottom of the Gallagher Premiership.

It's a huge night for London Irish and they are 6/5 to return a home win. 

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