Monday, January 30, 2023

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

Qatar has provided a plethora of improbable upsets, score lines, and drama during the group stage, and none of that is going away anytime soon.

Due to the turmoil caused by the eight groups, the round of 16 should not be any different. There are currently no second chances. Every second, every detail, and every error will be significant.

One mistake might terminate a nation’s FIFA World Cup run, regardless of whether it is David or Goliath. Taking advantage of that one key moment in a game could drive millions of fans around the world into ecstasy, while the opposing group would sink into sorrow.

Japan performed this action against Germany. That’s what Morocco did to Belgium. Saudi Arabia came close by doing this to Argentina.

In anticipation of eight more games in the coming days, let’s evaluate the round of 16 matchups from worst to best:

8. France vs. Poland 

The defending champions displayed their superiority with a 4-1 thumping of Australia before eking out a 2-1 victory over the extremely poor Denmark. The 1-0 loss to Tunisia answered France’s greatest question mark: How good are they without Kylian Mbappé?

Mbappé came off the bench in the second half and continued to shine, but it wasn’t enough to save a loss against a side France should have beaten with its bench players. This should not be an issue against Poland, a team that likes to sit back and play for the second ball because it lacks the technical ability to sustain possession for extended periods.

Poland squeaked out of Group C with performances that were less than convincing, and Wojciech Szczesny can only do so much in goal. France should handle the situation here.

7. Argentina vs. Australia 

Lionel Messi is made for television, but Argentina has not yet resembled a World Cup contender. The team’s weaknesses are being overshadowed by Messi and Enzo Fernández’s individual excellence despite the team’s loss to Saudi Arabia and lackluster victory over Mexico.

It relies too heavily on Messi’s presence in key areas to pull the strings, the midfield lacks balance and struggles to produce progressive game, and the defense is fragile when under intense pressure. The Green Falcons pulled off the upset, while Mexico and Poland paid the price for failing to take the game to them.

What will Australia’s fate be? The Socceroos matched France head-to-head in the first half of that encounter, but in the second half, with a 2-1 deficit and in an effort to preserve goal differential, they elected to defend. They may not have the talent on paper to win, but if they’re aggressive from the start, they can challenge Messi and company and possibly pull off the impossible.

6. Morocco vs. Spain

Morocco emerged from Group F unscathed with victories over Belgium and Canada and a draw against Croatia. The Atlas Lions are the biggest dark horse in the 2022 World Cup thus far, but their reward for winning their group is a match against Spain.

Typically, a team that finishes first in a group receives a favorable matchup against the second-place team from the following group, but Japan’s upset in Group E relegated Spain. Spain’s formation is rather straightforward: it will look to distribute the ball and wait for the proper scoring opportunity regardless of how long it takes, and its effective press off the ball allows it to keep possession nearly immediately.

The issue is the final output of Spain. The 7-0 thumping of Costa Rica hindered its ability to consistently create chances against teams with greater defensive structure, which was evident in the 1-1 draw with Germany and the 2-1 defeat against Japan. Morocco must maintain its resolve and seize the limited opportunities that may present themselves in order to pull off yet another historical upset.

5. Brazil vs. South Korea

In June, Brazil and South Korea played in a friendly, which the Seleço completely dominated. Brazil won by a score of 5-1 in a match in which the majority of each team’s important players were on the field.

This time around, Brazil enters the showdown with two impressive victories against internationally renowned powerhouse-killers Serbia and Switzerland, and had the luxury of fielding a whole new B-team against Cameroon in order to earn first place in Group G regardless of a defeat. Neymar, who missed the final two games of the group stage with an ankle injury, will be the main topic of discussion for the Brazilians. The Seleco have the depth to overcome some matchups without him, but it would be preferable if he was healthy as soon as possible.

South Korea, on the other hand, has emerged as a surprising dark horse after defeating Portugal 2-1 in Group H’s final match and finishing ahead of Uruguay and Ghana. Son Heung-min has not recorded a goal for the Taegeuk Warriors, but his late assist against Portugal was the deciding factor in his country’s advancement. South Korea will face a formidable challenge in upsetting Brazil, but it has shown it can be deadly from the penalty spot if it gets there.

4. England vs. Senegal

The Three Lions are competing against the Lions of Teranga. The fact that these two countries have never played in international competition adds to the interest of this contest, which extends to the caliber of each team’s players.

Senegal may not have the quality and depth to upset England on paper, but it gave the Netherlands 84 minutes of strong fight and displayed resiliency against Ecuador to advance in Group A without Sadio Mané. Ismala Sarr has performed admirably on the left wing despite having spent the majority of his young career on the right. The Chelsea duo of Kalidou Koulibaly and Eduoard Mendy will also need to be flawless, given they have experience playing against the majority of England’s Premier League roster.

On paper and on the field, England has one of the most balanced lineups, but manager Gareth Southgate must maximize the amount of skill at his disposal. England finished first in Group B without Harry Kane scoring a goal, excluding the tie against the United States. Expect England to dominate possession while Senegal looks to accelerate on the counterattack.

3. Japan vs. Croatia

Without factoring the possibility of an upset, this is likely the most evenly matched round of 16 contest. This clash is between a former darkhorse and a current darkhorse, whereas the previous contests between a clear powerhouse and an underdog.

The 2018 World Cup Final run by Croatia is still fresh in the thoughts of many fans. The midfield trio of Luka Modri, Marcelo Brozovi, and Mateo Kovai continue to dominate the middle of the field as they did four years before, with Joko Gvardiol emerging as the country’s breakout star at left center back. However, the Vatreni’s lack of finishers in the last third has resulted in two draws in group play, making them vulnerable to elimination if they don’t improve.

Japan, on the other hand, has won two comeback victories over Germany and Spain. If they can achieve that against them, why can’t they beat anyone else? In these victories, Japan surrendered possession (as little as 17% against Spain) but utilized its plethora of attacking outlets to achieve what truly matters: victory. See if Japan has another major surprise in store.

2. USA vs. Netherlands

Similar to other of the ousted powerhouses, the Netherlands are one of the surviving teams that have not exhibited convincing performances. Senegal took the Dutch to the wire without its best player, Ecuador dominated the game in which the Dutch had only two shots (one on target), and Qatar should have won by more than two goals.

The United States are unquestionably the underdogs in this match, but they have the ability to pull off a shock if they score enough goals. The Netherlands prefer to play with a back five, whereas the United States’ back four has conceded only one penalty goal after three games.

Cody Gakpo has scored three goals in three different games for the Oranje, but other than him, their attack and build-up play have been lacking. United States is the reverse. They can build from the back and have a midfield trio that can rotate all over the field, but they lack a finisher like Gakpo. Who will rise to the occasion on each side?

1. Portugal vs. Switzerland

Switzerland emerged from a group filled with underdogs and will attempt to challenge a Portugal squad that has shown some vulnerability in all three of its Group H matches.

Bruno Fernandes and Rafael Leo have risen up to fill the voids left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence as Portugal’s No. 9, but Ronaldo has not been able to ignite the team as the No. 9 position. However, the Portuguese defense has not been as formidable as anticipated, and it cost them against South Korea. Switzerland will undoubtedly prove to be a formidable adversary, despite the fact that this outcome was ultimately irrelevant because they still won first place.

The Swiss, led by captain Granit Xhaka, are a well-balanced and well-drilled team without a true superstar that plays excellent team game. Yann Sommer and Gregor Kobel are two excellent goalkeepers with quality throughout the field, but it will be intriguing to see how Breel Embolo, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Ruben Vargas perform on the wings.

This should be another close encounter, and it will be Portugal’s hardest test in Qatar to date. If the Portuguese succeed, it will show their resolve as they continue their pursuit of the championship, but if they fail, the Swiss will want to defeat additional powerhouses. In terms of overall quality, this contest wins.

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Ranking All Round of 16 Games

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