FIFA World Cup 2022 quarter-finals: start date, schedule of fixtures and predictions

Dec 8 (Reuters) - The quarter-final phase of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is all set to kick off.

Three weeks in, the tournament has not been one for easy predictions. From Saudi Arabia’s shock win over Argentina in their opener to 2014 champions Germany making a quick exit a second consecutive time, this edition has provided a rollercoaster of comebacks and head-spinning group climaxes.

Will upsets continue to be the norm? Here’s what to expect from the remaining fixtures as the World Cup enters its final laps:

WHEN DO THE WORLD CUP 2022 QUARTER-FINALS START?

The quarter-finals will take place on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10. Two games will be played on each day.

The semi-finals will take place on Dec. 13 and 14 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium and Al Bayt Stadium.

The final takes place on Sunday Dec. 18 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group A - Qatar v Ecuador - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - November 20, 2022 General view of a giant replica World Cup trophy inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINALS SCHEDULE OF FIXTURES

DEC. 9

1500 GMT - Croatia v Brazil - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

1900 GMT - Argentina v Netherlands - Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

DEC. 10

1500 GMT - Morocco v Portugal - Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

1900 GMT - England v France - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

WHAT ARE THE LATEST PREDICTIONS FOR THE WORLD CUP 2022 QUARTER-FINALS?

CROATIA V BRAZIL

How have they played so far?

Brazil arrived in Qatar as the odds-on favourite to lift the trophy. They have won three of their four games so far and are coming off a 4-1 thrashing of South Korea in the last 16. The lone loss came in their final Group G game against Cameroon in which a largely second-string side were stunned by a Vincent Aboubakar goal in stoppage time.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Brazil v South Korea - Stadium 974, Doha, Qatar - December 5, 2022 Brazil's Neymar, Eder Militao, Pedro, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Richarlison celebrate qualifying for the quarter finals REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

However, 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia have not been at their convincing best. They topped Group F after managing two goalless draws before beating Japan on penalties in their knockout clash.

What does each team have to do to win?

For Brazil, scoring early and getting Croatia to play more on the attack will be top of the agenda. Playing attack against Brazil's five-man artillery up front can be a recipe for disaster, especially with a fully-fit Neymar and an in-form Richarlison set to start.

Croatia will use their prized midfield trio of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic to aim to play a controlled, methodical, and slow-paced game – tactics that have brought them much success.

Dec 5, 2022; Al-Wakrah, Qatar; Croatia players celebrate with 3-1 victory on penalty kicks in a round of sixteen match against Japan during the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Al-Janoub Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

If they stay disciplined in defence and frustrate the Brazilian forward line, they will hope to find a goal via counter-attacks on the flanks, where they are most threatening, or from a set-piece.

Brazil's fresh legs against an older Croatia team coming off a hard-fought 120-minute battle against Japan will have the Selecao already dreaming of nailing down the first semi-final spot.

Who are the top scorers in each team?

Croatia: Andrej Kramaric - 2 goals

Brazil: Richarlison - 3 goals

NETHERLANDS V ARGENTINA

How have they played so far?

Argentina suffered a shock loss to Saudi Arabia in their opener but bounced back to win Group C and then beat Australia 2-1 in the last 16. Their talisman Lionel Messi has rolled back the years and been indispensable, netting three goals and setting up another.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Argentina v Australia - Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 3, 2022 Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after the match as Argentina progress to the quarter finals REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The Dutch were far from convincing in their initial games but coach Louis van Gaal’s measured and pragmatic approach won them first spot in Group A, even if it didn’t win them too many fans. The Oranje put in an improved performance against the United States in the last 16 to stretch their unbeaten run to 19 games in all competitions.

What does each team have to do to win?

For Argentina, the mantra could be simple - get the ball to Messi.

The Dutch will be looking to cut that supply line and catch Argentina on the counter-attack. Wing back Denzel Dumfries likes to bomb up and down the flanks, often to good effect, and he could cause problems for the Argentine backline.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Netherlands v United States - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 3, 2022 Netherlands' Denzel Dumfries celebrates scoring their third goal with Teun Koopmeiners REUTERS/John Sibley

Who is likely to win the match?

With Messi on song and striker Julian Alvarez hungry to add to his tally of two goals, the Netherlands might have their hands full.

But veteran manager Van Gaal always has a plan up his sleeve, so do not discount the Dutch.

Who are the top scorers in each team?

Argentina: Lionel Messi - 3 goals

Netherlands: Cody Gakpo - 3 goals

MOROCCO V PORTUGAL

How have they played so far?

A confident Portugal, fresh from their knockout demolition of Switzerland, will look to put the noise surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo being benched for the last-16 tie behind them. Portugal's Football Federation (FPF) has denied reports that Ronaldo, Portugal's most-capped player and all-time top scorer, threatened to leave the national team during the World Cup.

Striker Goncalo Ramos was surprised to be named as Ronaldo’s replacement in the lineup against Switzerland but proceeded to have a game beyond his ‘wildest dreams’ as he smashed a hat-trick.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Portugal v Switzerland - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 6, 2022 Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrates scoring their fifth goal and his hat-trick REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

On Saturday, Fernando Santos’ side will take on a Morocco team that is buzzing with belief after recording an upset win over 2010 champions Spain in a match that went to penalties. The only African side still in the running, Morocco failed to qualify for the knockout stage in 2018 with one point.

What does each team have to do to win?

Portugal need to keep the momentum gained against Switzerland with their attacking pace and efficiency. A direct approach might against Morocco might suit them best.

The Atlas Lions’ disciplined defence and pacey counter-attacks have been key to their expectation-defying run to the quarter-finals. They will rely on the speed of full back Achraf Hakimi and the guile and link-up play of Hakim Ziyech to deliver.

Who is likely to win the match?

Portugal will see themselves as the favourites after their thrashing of Switzerland boosted their confidence.

If Morocco continue with their steely defensive approach, they will look to be efficient when they get the chance. The team are sweating over the fitness of defenders Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd, and midfield ace Sofyan Amrabat, which might hurt them.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Morocco v Spain - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 6, 2022 Morocco's Achraf Hakimi celebrates after scoring the winning penalty during the penalty shootout as Morocco progress to the quarter finals REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Who are the top scorers in each team?

Morocco: Hakim Ziyech, Zakaria Aboukhlal, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss - 1 goal

Portugal: Goncalo Ramos - 3 goals

ENGLAND V FRANCE

How have they played so far?

Both teams had mixed group stages. England started by thrashing Iran 6-2, looked stodgy in a 0-0 draw with the United States but cruised past Wales. They were also slow out of the blocks against Senegal but got moving nicely to win 3-0 and take their tournament goal tally to 12.

France were probably the most impressive team of the group stage. With a knockout spot booked, they fielded many of their reserves against Tunisia and were beaten. They were impressive winners against Poland in the last 16 and in Kylian Mbappe have the player of the tournament so far.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - France v Poland - Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 4, 2022 France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their first goal with teammate Kylian Mbappe REUTERS/Hannah Mckay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

What does each team have to do to win?

Mbappe’s duel with full back Kyle Walker is one of the highlights of the clash. Both teams have dangerous attackers and will expect to score – extra time wouldn’t be a surprise.

Who is likely to win the match?

France, the defending champions, are slight favourites but England tend to raise their performance when facing the stronger sides.

Who are the top scorers in each team?

England: Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka - 3 goals

France: Kylian Mbappe - 5 goals

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - England v Senegal - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - December 4, 2022 England's Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring their third goal with Harry Kane and Phil Foden REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Compiled by Siddharth K; Additional reporting by Mitch Phillips, Mark Gleeson, Shady Amir Koura, Fernando Kallas Editing by Christian Radnedge

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