Road to glory, part 2: World Cup quarterfinals preview

The FIFA World Cup’s round of 16 gave staggering matches to the soccer world. Now it is time to move into the last eight teams in the tournament. The pressure keeps on building, and expectations are high.

Here are our reviews of each team and what it will take for them to reach the final four, then have a chance of winning the World Cup. The quarterfinals begin Friday morning featuring Croatia vs. Brazil at 10 a.m. MOst can be seen on Fox Sports in English and Telemundo (as well as Peacock) in Spanish.

Croatia: The remaining few of Croatia’s 2018 World Cup team are still doing wonders. In the round of 16, they beat a Japanese side that ended first in its group. After being down 1-0 at half time, Croatia was able to even things up when they scored a goal in the 55th minute. The match went to extra time and despite a few chances for the Croatians, the winner had to be decided in a penalty shootout. The goalkeeper, Dominik Livaković, saved three penalties out of four from Japan’s “Samurai Blue.” His teammates scored three, and won the match 3-1.

What do they need to win? 

The Croatians showed against Japan that they are a team whose opponents must be careful. Even though they had scarce chances to score, they added one into the back of the net when things got locked. Reacting on time is one of their strengths. But still, facing a strong Brazil squad in the quarterfinals will not be an easy task. The 37-year-old Luka Modric is not a player who can go 120 minutes if needed. Instead, Croatia must rely on other players in the midfield and a few individuals to somehow cause the Brazilians trouble. 

Their game in the quarterfinals is Friday at 10 a.m. vs. Brazil.

Brazil: The Verde-Amarela did not have any issues in the round of 16. The Brazilians swept through South Korea and secured their place in the next round in less than 40 minutes. An excellent display of their attacking power was enough to put the game to bed. Vinicius Jr, Neymar Jr, an unstoppable Richarlison, and Lucas Paquetá added their names to the scoresheet. Then, with 14 minutes to go, South Korea closed the gap a little bit. But Brazil won 4-1 comfortably. 

What do they need to win? 

Tite’s men enjoyed an easy victory in their first knockout game. But now they must turn the page and set their mind on Croatia. The Seleçao are the favorites to move on to the semifinals. Yet, becoming too confident against the European powerhouse could end Brazil’s quest for a sixth World Cup title very quickly. Having their captain and number ten Neymar Jr back in the starting 11 was a relief for the team. As long as they keep things organized on defense and have precision up front, Brazil should not have much trouble to win.

 Their game in the quarterfinals is Friday at 10 a.m. vs. Croatia.

Netherlands: Louis Van Gaal’s squad outplayed the United States for most of the game. The Clockwork Orange took advantage of the Americans’ spaces when tracking back to defend. Two counterattacks ended successfully for the Dutch in the first half. Then, in the second 45 minutes, the U.S stood up after getting one step closer at the 76th minute. Nonetheless, fullback Denzel Dumfries called it a day for the Dutch five minutes later.

What do they need to win? 

The Netherlands had an interesting challenge with the Americans. In the quarterfinals, they will play against an Argentine side that has high hopes of winning the World Cup. The Dutch will not only have to take control of the midfield and hold the Argentines on the wings, but they must not leave any attacking space to Lionel Messi. When that occurs, everyone knows that he has a 50/50 chance of scoring. In spite of this, the Netherlands has solid options in attack such as Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay, and a strong defense led by Virgil Van Dijk. Therefore, coach Louis Van Gaal needs to figure out an all-around plan to neutralize Messi and his team.

Their game in the quarterfinals is Friday at 2 p.m. vs. Argentina.


La Scaloneta played against Australia in the round of 16. It was not a simple match. Argentina had ball possession in the first half for almost 35 minutes. However, they didn’t have a clear opportunity. Then, a few moments after a corner kick, they made a brilliant play that concluded with a clinical finish by Lionel Messi on the edge of the box. In the second half, a mistake by Australia’s goalkeeper prompted a goal by Julián Álvarez to extend Argentina’s lead to 2-0. The Australians didn’t let their guard down and took a shot that deflected off Enzo Fernández’s body and went to the back of the net to narrow things to 2-1. Argentina could have scored a third goal after that but missed several opportunities. Finally, right before the end of the match, Garang Kuol went 1v1 with Argentina’s keeper, Emiliano Martínez, who saved the day by blocking Kuol’s shot with his left arm.

What do they need to win? 

La Albiceleste struggled more than expected against the Australians. Still, their performance was good enough to advance to the quarterfinals. Argentina will play the Netherlands in the upcoming round. It is a matchup that has a lot of history, as Argentina beat the Dutch in the 1978 FIFA World Cup, and knocked them out on penalties in the semifinals of the 2014 cup. The Dutch are looking for revenge, and coach Lionel Scaloni knows it. Argentina’s triangle defensive block with their goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, and center backs Nicolás Otamendi and Cristian Romero have been very consistent throughout the cup. They know that they must play at their best to stop any dangerous attacks from the Dutch. Also, although Lionel Messi is still their most dangerous player, the Argentine forwards need to be accurate in front of the goal. Lastly, the midfield duel is going to be rough, as it will influence which team has control of the game.

Their game in the quarterfinals is Friday at 2 p.m. vs. the Netherlands.

Morocco: Without a doubt, Morocco has been the surprise of the knockouts so far. Winning such a difficult group against Croatia and Belgium, had everybody talking about them. In the round of 16, Spain was in their way. They knew they were not the favorites despite finishing first in their group. The game went back and forth in 90 minutes, but the Spaniards had the better chances. An extra 30 minutes were played, but the game remained undecided. In penalty kicks, Morocco shocked the world, as their goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved three out of three Spanish shots. In the last penalty, Spanish-born right back Achraf Hakimi chipped the ball and ended the shootout with a 3-0 win to send Morocco to the quarterfinals. 

What do they need to win?

Morocco is a team that knows how to defend well. The North African nation has a golden opportunity to send Cristiano Ronaldo and his men back home. Portugal has plenty of forwards capable of breaking through Morocco’s defense. However, even though Portugal has a slight advantage on Morocco, the Moroccans have made a compact starting 11 that has not been afraid of the big teams. It will be interesting to see whether or not Morocco’s coach, Walid Regragui, tells his players to wait for the opponent to lose the ball to create counterattacks. 

Their game in the quarterfinals is Saturday at 10 a.m. vs. Portugal.

Portugal: The Portuguese were expected to have a hard match against Switzerland in the round of 16. Nevertheless, the exact opposite happened. Fernando Santos’ decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo was a risky one, but it paid off. A remarkable 6-1 victory against the Swiss was something that most fans did not see coming. Ronaldo’s replacement, Gonçalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in the game and the reaction around the world was incredible. Portugal dominated the game from start to finish, and are becoming serious contenders now to win the tournament.

What do they need to win? 

Portugal has the odds in their favor to beat Morocco. If Gonçalo Ramos starts again, alongside Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, João Félix, the Portuguese may outplay their opponents. On the bench they would have Cristiano Ronaldo to turn things around if they need it. Moreover, they must not underestimate Morocco at any time. Fernando Santos is aware that his players have the potential to lift the trophy, and he does not want to take this chance for granted.

Their game in the quarterfinals is Saturday at 10 a.m. vs. Morocco.

England: The English had no trouble defeating Senegal by 3-0 in the round of 16. England’s performance was worthy enough to convince many that they could win the World Cup. A goal from Jordan Henderson, and a goal scored by Harry Kane after a great counterattack put the Three Lions in the lead at half time. In the 57th minute of the second half, Bukayo Saka included his name on the match scorer’s list. Gareth Southgate and his men were satisfied and advanced to the quarterfinals.

What do they need to win?

England will have a real test against France on Saturday. Both teams scored three times in each of their round of 16 games respectively. Unfortunately, the English will face Kylian Mbappé. He is having a great tournament, and to minimize his chances will be important for England. Defenders like Kyle Walker, John Stones, Luke Shaw and especially Harry Maguire cannot afford to let Mbappé loose in the final third. On the other side, Phil Foden, Harry Kane, and Bukayo Saka have what it takes to pass through France’s backline. 

Their game in the quarterfinals is Saturday at 2 p.m. vs. France.


The current World Cup champions beat Poland 3-1 in the round of 16. It took them some time to find the back of the net. Near half time, Olivier Giroud opened the score. A relentless display of skill and power by Kylian Mbappé led France to add two more goals in the last 15 minutes of the match. Poland was clearly not the strongest opponent, but the French had to defeat them anyway.  

What do they need to win?

France’s coach, Didier Deschamps, knows that his team can become back-to-back World Cup champions. Now it is when it gets real for Le Bleus. There is no tomorrow in the knockouts if you lose. England has shown what they are capable of doing. This match will feature two of the world’s soccer powerhouses head to head, and it will be thrilling to watch. Nevertheless, England’s attack with Kane, Foden, and Saka could be as lethal as France’s attack with Mbappé, Giroud, Dembélé, and Griezmann. To move on to the semifinals, France’s defenders will have to close the gaps in the final third, and also take care of the midfield. 

Their game in the quarterfinals is Saturday at 2 p.m. vs England.

Jesus Acosta is from Caracas, Venezuela. He is a junior at FIU pursuing a major in Digital Communications and Media + Interactive. He aspires to work in the sports industry in the near future.