Jun 12, 2014; Sao Paulo, BRAZIL; Brazil forward Neymar (yellow) against Croatia midfielder Luka Modric in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup at Arena Corinthians. Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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After a brief two-day hiatus, the World Cup officially makes its return this morning featuring a pair of loaded quarterfinals matchups. Croatia will look to qualify for the semifinals for the second consecutive tournament in the early window against the favorites in Brazil, while Lionel Messi and Argentina will vie for their first seminal appearance since falling to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final as they take on the Netherlands later this afternoon.
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Friday’s World Cup action will begin with an intriguing matchup between the 2018 World Cup runner-up in Croatia taking on the current tournament favorite, Brazil. Brazil is currently listed at +165 to win the 2022 World Cup at BetMGM Sportsbook, but will need to first take care of Luka Modric and company before looking ahead to the semifinals.
Croatia clinched its spot in today’s quarterfinal with a thrilling win over Japan in the Round of 16, advancing 3-1 on penalties after finishing in a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time. Croatia did trail 1-0 against Japan, but managed to pull even on a 55th minute goal from Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic. They will now look to do the impossible and upset Brazil, who took down Croatia during group stage play back in the 2014 World Cup, 3-1.
As for Brazil, they bounced back from their 1-0 upset against Cameroon on the final day of group play, as they made very quick work out of South Korea in the Round of 16. Brazil jumped out to a 4-0 lead within the first 36 minutes and never looked back, eventually closing out a dominant 4-1 victory. Currently listed at -275 to win the match on the 3-way line and -650 to simply qualify, it is more than clear that this match is Brazil’s to lose.
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All eyes will surely be on Lionel Messi this afternoon as the all-time great will continue his push for one last World Cup title run. Things are not going to be easy for the Argentines, as they are set to take on a very tough and talented Netherlands unit led by Louis van Gaal.
The Dutch infamously broke the hearts of millions of American soccer fans last Saturday when they downed the USA in the Round of 16, 3-1. Memphis Depay opened up the scoring for the Netherlands early on, followed by goals from Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries to seal the deal and put the Netherlands through to the next round. Despite looking a bit underwhelming during group stage play, the Dutch have now allowed just two total goals through four 2022 World Cup contests and pose a serious threat against Argentina.
Argentina will also enter this afternoon’s match in strong form, as they’ve seemingly put their Saudi Arabia scare in the rearview. After falling to Saudi 2-1 on the tournament’s third day of action, Argentina has outscored its opponents 5-1 across three victories, and the only goal allowed was an own goal knocked in for Australia by Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez. Listed at -185 to qualify and +115 to win the match in regulation, there is some serious value on the table for those that believe Lionel Messi is taking his country to the promised land in his final World Cup.
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Michael is a New Jersey-based sports writer who recently began working in the online gaming industry. He now contributes to various online publications for Better Collective. He is an alumnus of Rutgers University and avidly follows Rutgers basketball and the New York Mets.
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