The quarterfinals of the World Cup 2022 - the winners and the Golden Boot battleThe quarterfinals of the World Cup in Qatar 2022 have now been completed and we saw a whole lot of drama, above all the match between Holland and Argentina, which was both a heated event and as much drama as you can ask for in a knockout match in the World Cup.
In the battle for the Golden Boot title in the World Cup, we still have Kylian Mbappe at the top after the quarterfinals with his five goals scored, this even though he did not score a goal in the match against England in this round. However, his team-mate Olivier Giroud did, who thus went up to four goals in total. The same number of goals has also been scored by Lionel Messi now, after he scored a penalty during normal match time in Argentina's match against Holland. He also scored a penalty during the shootout, which is not counted in the statistics though. It is now between these three players in the fight to become the top scorer of the tournament.
Croatia-Brazil 1-1 (Croatia advance after penalties)Brazil went into this match as heavy favourites after sliding through the group stage and easily knocking out South Korea in the Round of 16. Against Croatia, however, they faced a much stronger defence and the Croatians effectively stopped Brazil's normally fast-paced game, which made the Brazilians all of a sudden look pale. The match ended 0-0 in regular match time, but in the last minute of the first quarter of extra time, Neymar struck with a real class goal. However, the Croatians fought on and in the 117th minute Bruno Petkovic took a shot that touched a defender and into the goal, and the Croatians managed to take the match to penalties despite being counted out. The Croatians have become something of experts on penalty shootouts now, and the Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic became a great match hero as Croatia won the shootout and took Croatia to the semis.
Holland-Argentina 2-2 (Argentina advances on penalties)Argentina were favourites, but not clear ones, before this quarter-final. Holland struggled to get into the match and when Lionel Messi hit an absolutely brilliant through ball in the 35th minute, Nahuel Molina was able to skilfully poke the ball past Holland goalkeeper Andries Noppert, 1-0 to Argentina. Argentina continued to be the better team in the second as well and in the 73rd Argentina was awarded a penalty which Messi masterfully scored. 2-0 to Argentina and curtains down for Holland? It really felt that way, but Holland's coach Louis van Gaal made a couple of changes and deployed his longest strikers, one of them being Wout Weghorst, and Holland started to send in long balls towards the goal. This was something that gave results and Weghorst was able to head in 1-2 in the 83rd minute. Holland continued to feed long balls and time started to run out for Holland, but in the absolute last minute Holland got a free kick just outside the penalty area. Everyone lined up for a shot but instead Teun Koopmeiners passed the ball cleverly to the side of the wall and Weghorst was able to poke in 2-2.
In the extra time, many thought that Argentina would fold after the shock of letting their win go in the last minute, but they completed the entire extra time clearly better than Holland, although without scoring a goal. The match thus went to a penalty shoot-out and Argentina would prove to have their nerves best in control and, after all, deservedly advanced to the semis.
Cristiano Ronaldo - probably the last time we saw him playing a WC match...
Morocco-Portugal 1-0Portugal eased past Switzerland in the round of 16 and went into this match as clear favourites, a match where Cristiano Ronaldo was benched in once again in favour of Goncalo Ramos. However, Morocco chose to park the bus in classic Mourinho fashion, making it almost impossible for Portugal to create hot chances to score. Then suddenly in the 42nd minute, Morocco went on the attack and a well-placed header from Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri gave Morocco a 1-0 lead. Immediately after the goal, Portugal looked stressed, which they continued to be immediately in the second half.
Portugal tried to keep up the pace in the game, but the stress meant they made simple mistakes as soon as the penalty area approached. Ronaldo came on to the pitch early in the second half and Portugal managed to create a couple of decent chances. The best opportunity come from João Félix who fired a very nice shot that was worth a goal, but Morocco's goalkeeper Bono made a great save. Portugal never managed to score, and Morocco thus made history by becoming the first African team ever to reach a semi-final in the World Cup.
France-England 2-1The last quarterfinal was the highly interesting meeting between the European giants France and England. France went in as favourites, but the match was very tight. In the 17th minute, Aurélien Tchouaméni curled in a shot that went in by the post and France took a 1-0 lead, a result that lasted until half-time. In the 54th, England were awarded a penalty and Harry Kane put it safely with no chance for team-mate Hugo Lloris. In the 78th, Antoine Griezmann hit a perfect cross that Olivier Giroud headed in and France were back in the lead. In the 84th, however, England received another penalty after VAR review when Mason Mount was clumsily brought down in the penalty area. Another chance from the penalty spot for Harry Kane, but this time he couldn't keep his nerves under control, and he sent the ball high over the bar, and instead of the hero of the match, Kane became the scapegoat as France safely kept England from scoring.
The semi-finalsIn the semi-finals we will now see meetings between Argentina and Croatia on Tuesday at 20:00 CET, and on Wednesday France against Morocco, also at 20:00 CET.
Favourites are Argentina and France, which for most neutrals would be the perfect final. However, there could be a replay of the 2018 World Cup final in Russia between Croatia and France. Lionel Messi now also has the chance, in what will likely be his last World Cup, to win the World Cup trophy and thus truly be able to compete with his compatriot Diego Maradona as the greatest footballer of all time. And of course, the Moroccan team are very hungry to write further history by taking an African team to a World Cup final. No matter what happens, we for sure have a couple of exciting semi-finals to look forward to!