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World Cup: Talking points ahead of the quarter-finals

While there is a brief pause in the action at the World Cup in Qatar, there’s an opportunity to look at the talking points ahead of the highly-anticipated quarter-finals.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil are in free-scoring form, Morocco are becoming one of the stories of the competition, while England and France are preparing for a titanic tussle in the last eight.

Brazil lighting up the competition

In one of the performances of the World Cup so far, Brazil really put on a show with their 4-1 demolition job on South Korea in the last 16.

Boosted by the return of Neymar to the starting line-up, Brazil produced the flair and the cutting edge to put four goals past the Koreans before the half-time whistle.

The combination of Neymar, Richarlison and Raphinha in attack appears to be getting better by the game, which is something Croatia will have to deal with in their quarter-final on Friday.

Croatia were made to go through the rigors of a penalty shootout victory over Japan in the last 16 and will next face their biggest challenge of the tournament so far.

The Croats have been happy to go under the radar in Qatar, with many forgetting this side finished as runner-up at the last World Cup in 2018.

Croatia certainly should not be taken for granted but with the way Brazil are playing right now, it will take some performance to send the pre-tournament favourites home.

Brazil are 4/11 to win, 15/4 to draw in Full Time Result and 8/1 to lose to Croatia at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan. 

Little to choose between Netherlands and Argentina

Two sides that have grown into the competition, the Netherlands and Argentina, are set to go head-to-head in one of the big quarter-final contests.

Argentina were stunned in their opening game of the tournament by Saudi Arabia but have responded well since.

Lionel Messi has been known for his goals for Argentina but his creativity in producing opportunities for others has also been very evident in this tournament.

The Argentines made slightly harder work of beating Australia than they might have liked in the last 16 but the two-time world champions do appear to be moving in the right direction.

As for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands, the Dutch produced their best performance of the tournament to beat the US in their last outing.

With Golden Boot contender Cody Gakpo enjoying a strong World Cup, it will be intriguing to see what the Netherlands can do against this highly-fancied Argentina side.

The Netherlands are 13/5 to win in Full Time Result, 21/10 to draw and 6/5 to lose against the Argentines at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday.

Morocco flying the flag for Africa

What a journey it has been for Morocco at this World Cup, with the Atlas Lions knocking Spain out in the last 16 on penalties.

That’s not the first big name the Moroccans have taken down, as they also beat Belgium to help send the Red Devils out of the competition in the group stages.

Portugal can take nothing for granted when they face Morocco at Al-Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

The Portuguese did impress in their 6-1 victory over Switzerland, with Goncalo Ramos the star of the show with a hat-trick.

Brought in to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, head coach Fernando Santos might well keep Ramos in his starting line-up for the quarter-finals.

Portugal are 4/6 to win, 13/5 to draw and 19/4 to lose in Full Time Result against Morocco in Doha.

Old rivals set for mouth-watering showdown

What: England v France
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: 19:00, Saturday 10th December 2022
How to watch: ITV1
Odds: England 21/10, Draw 11/5, France 11/8

The last quarter-final scheduled might well be the best as reigning champions France face rivals England in Saturday night’s clash at Al Bayt Stadium.

Les Bleus proved too strong for Poland in their last-16 outing with a 3-1 win, while England made light work of Senegal with a 3-0 victory.

France’s Kylian Mbappe is the frontrunner for the Golden Boot after the last-16 stage, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward already bagging five goals this tournament.

Mbappe is 7/4 to Score Anytime against England, who themselves have striker Harry Kane at 2/1 to find the back of the net in the same market.

France are 7/5 to win in Full Time Result, with the draw at 9/4 and an England victory is available at 2/1.

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