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World Cup 2022 Daily Preview: Croatia/Brazil, Netherlands/Argentina kick off quarterfinals

And then there were 8.

Japan v Spain: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

We’re getting to the tail end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as on Friday, the quarterfinals get underway. The first 2 matchups of the weekend aren’t massive surprises as Croatia faces Brazil in Al Rayyan and the Netherlands plays Argentina in Lusail. A win by both O Canarinho and La Albiceleste sets up a massive, absolutely off-the-chain semifinal on Tuesday that I think every neutral soccer fan is hoping to see. We absolutely, positively, need this to happen, bearing in mind that a Messi vs. Ronaldo showdown in the final still remains a possibility, at which stage the universe may just collapse on itself.

Anyway, here’s a look at the 1st 2 quarterfinals:

Croatia vs. Brazil — 10:00 a.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

Croatia needed an Ivan Perišić goal in the 53rd minute to get on level terms with Japan in the Round of 16, eventually needing penalties to eliminate the Samurai Blue. Croatia, really, have had only 1 easy match this entire tournament, a 4-1 dismantling of Canada in the 2nd match of the group stage. Meanwhile, Brazil made quick work of South Korea to open the knockout round, and while the Croats will prove to be a bit more of a tougher matchup, you may have to fancy the Brazillians’ chances in this one.

Player to Watch: Vinícius Júnior

Brazil v South Korea: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

The Real Madrid man has been good for a goal and a pair of assists so far during Brazil’s World Cup run. He opened the scoring against South Korea, making him his country’s youngest goalscorer in the tournament since Ronaldinho in 2002, and later assisted on Lucas Paquetá’s

Netherlands vs Argentina — 2 p.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

I, like everyone else, thought that Argentina would have a much easier time with Australia. That wasn’t the case as an own goal in the final quarter-hour made things interesting before the Socceroos nearly tacked on the equalizer in the latter stages. That could serve as a jolt to the Argentines as they look to punch their ticket to the semifinals for the first time since finishing as runners-up against Germany in 2014. That was the year the Netherlands finished in 3rd place — and ironically, this is a matchup of the 2014 semi that saw the 2 teams play to a goalless draw before Argentina saw itself through to the final on penalties. Messi and co. will be looking to make much quicker work of Oranje this time out, while revenge is on the minds of the Dutch. (Plus, we’ll be looking to see if Atlanta United’s own Thiago Almada steps foot on the field.)

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi

Argentina Training Session - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Khalil Bashar/Jam Media/Getty Images

Messi opened the scoring against Australia, currently sitting on 3 goals in the tournament. The 35-year-old should be right in the middle of things once again as he looks to get a step closer to seeing his country’s 36-year World Cup championship drought come to a end.