A few brush strokes from the eight teams that will start tomorrow’s semi-finals in Qatar
Three weeks have passed since the ball started rolling in Doha and from next Friday the eight remaining countries will play the quarter-finals of the World Cup. After the well-known eliminations of Spain in the round of 16 and of Germany and Belgium in the group stage, five European teams (Croatia, Netherlands, Portugal, England and France), two South Americans (Argentina and Brazil) and one North African (the surprising Morocco) try to gain access to the penultimate round, the prelude to the grand final of this atypical World Cup. It is no longer in Qatar.
Croatia: Modric’s last shift?
When you say Croatia, you say Modric, the footballer who always almost retires, but never retires. The Balkan team reached the final of the World Cup in Russia four years ago and landed in Doha with the stigma of the end of the cycle of a litter that should already give way to the new generations. However, the Real Madrid footballer and the soldiers under his command have shown that experience is a degree and despite the suffering and after a penalty shootout against Japan, they made it to the top eight. Nothing less than Brazil awaits them.
Brazil: a sambadrome in Doha
The ‘canarinha’ is the favorite to take home the trophy on December 18. In the group stage, they recorded solid victories against Serbia and Switzerland and a defeat against Cameroon, the latter game with a line-up full of substitutes. Neymar was injured against the Balkans and made another round of 16 appearance against Korea. The spectacle Brazil put on against the Asians in the first half was extraordinary and dispelled any doubts, if any, about their candidacy to collect their sixth star. There were a total of 45 minutes of football in his particular sambadrome in Doha.
Louis Van Gaal’s team arrived in Qatar through the back door, without making any noise and amid criticism from the Dutch media, who accused him of putting the result before good play. The ‘orange’ finished the first stage undefeated in an affordable group and the spotlight shone on their new star, Gakpo. In the round of 16, the United States was waiting for him, a team that left very good feelings. The Netherlands gave the ball to the Americans and destroyed them in the counterattack with a very inspired Dumfries. Now it’s Argentina’s turn.
Argentina: Messi’s obsession
It started very badly, with an embarrassing loss to Saudi Arabia that almost caused a national tragedy. But Leo Messi wants his World Cup and Argentina to sufficiently solve his next two match balls against Poland and Mexico. The Rosario star has found two perfect friends in Julián Álvarez and Enzo Fernández to continue dreaming. In the eighth finals they settled with Australia, one of the surprises of the tournament. He goes into the round of 16 with the doubt of Rodrigo de Paul, the key in Scaloni’s plan.
Morocco: The ‘invader’ of the crossings
Undoubtedly the unexpected enemy in the quarter round. Morocco had an extraordinary group stage match, including victory against Belgium, and met Spain in the round of 16. The North Africans were an impassable wall at the Education City Stadium for La Roja’s talented footballers, unable to loosen their lines in 120 minutes with an infinite rondo without a single hiccup. With an excellent Amrabat in midfield and two wingers as arrows, the Moroccans want to continue writing history. Next station, Portugal.
Portugal: It’s already flying without Cristiano
Even before arriving in Doha, Cristiano Ronaldo tried to turn Portugal’s concentration into a powder keg. And in Qatar he has not given up his efforts. His bad words after being substituted in the third group match against Korea ended the patience of the coach, Fernando Santos, who ruined his behavior in front of the media and benched him in the round of 16 against Switzerland. The play turned out perfect. Beaten against the Swiss (6-1) with a hat-trick from Ramos, the footballer chosen to replace the Portuguese star. Portugal is already flying without Cristiano Ronaldo.
England: Harry Kane’s baton
Finalist of the last European Championship and semi-finalist of the World Cup in Russia, England wants to end nothing less than half a century without winning a title in Qatar. The group stage has given birth to a team with a high dose of talent and punch. The music of the inventors of football plays under the direction of Harry Kane, the group’s soul mate on and off the pitch. The intersection of generations has come together at the optimum time, with a Bellingham touched by the gods. France is waiting for you.
France: The best Mbappe
Mbappé has scored five goals in Qatar so far, making him the top scorer of the Qatari tournament. France appeared to have suffered a curse at the World Cup, with a plague of injuries that included key players such as Benzemá. Perhaps conceived to face adversity, the defending champion’s performance was superb. A natural powerhouse, the PSG star is currently unstoppable and has taken the lead for his teammates. Griezmann, always unpredictable, has offered his best version.
Source: La Verdad