Messi drives the ball against two rivals from Poland.Hassan Ammar (AP)
Eight teams two games from the final.
The teams of Frenkie de Jong and Gakpo, Messi and Enzo Fernández.
Neymar and Vinicius, Modric and Perisic.
Mbappé and Griezmann, Kane and Billingham.
Bono and Amrabat, and Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Ramos... In the rear-view mirror, 56 games already played and 24 teams eliminated in a World Cup marked, in general, by the offensive game, the one championed by the big stars, all of them doing well in Qatar.
All or nothing in a quarterfinal with all the applicants except Spain and Germany, and a more than meritorious Morocco.
This Friday: Brazil-Croatia (World Goal-Movistar, 4:00 p.m.) and the Netherlands-Argentina (La 1 and World Cup Goal, 8:00 p.m.).
On Saturday: Morocco-Portugal (La 1 and World Goal, 4:00 p.m.) and England-France (World Goal-Movistar, 8:00 p.m.).
The European curse of Brazil.
Since her fifth World Cup title, in 2002 against Germany, Europe has choked the Canarinha.
France melted it in the quarterfinals in Germany 2006 (1-0), the Netherlands sent it to the ground in the quarterfinals of South Africa 2010 (2-1), Germany swept it in the semifinals of Brazil 2014 (7-1) and Belgium He dispatched it in the quarterfinals of Russia 2018 (2-1).
In Qatar, it is the turn of runner-up Croatia, a warrior team that resists and resists.
Modric, 37, still enjoys himself as a child.
He is surrounded by two Praetorians like Perisic and Kovacic, and the masked Josko Gvardiol emerges more and more, at 20 years old a high-ranking center-back.
Brazil, for the moment, smiles.
Neymar recovered, with Vinicius as a shuttle and Richarlison punctual before the goal, the Canarinha has a punch, a lot of punch.
And he does not lack poise in his area, where an infinite couple, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva, and a first-class shooting guard, Casemiro, block the way.
The pique Van Gaal-Di Maria.
The Netherlands and Argentina, who have eight finals, have a lot of views at the World Cups, in which they have met five times.
Some historical events, such as the 1978 final in Buenos Aires (3-1 for Mario Kempes's Albiceleste).
Four years earlier, in Germany 74, Cruyff's Holland had overwhelmed the Argentina of Brindisi, Ayala and Houseman.
also fired its rival in France 98. In 2006, a draw to zero, the same result as in the semifinals of Brazil 2014, resolved by Messi's Argentina on penalties, a scourge for Van Gaal's Netherlands .
A personal account is added to the outstanding accounts.
Di María usually remembers that no one in football has treated him worse than Van Gaal when they met at United.
“One day we won 3-0, I scored a goal and gave an assist.
The next day he showed me a video with the passes he had missed.
He had been playing well and he cleaned me up, ”said the Argentine in 2021.“ Has Di María said that I am the worst coach he has ever had?
I'm really sorry, he's one of the few players who thinks that.
Memphis also had to deal with that in Manchester and now we kiss on the mouth ”, the Dutchman has responded these days.
In Doha, Messi and Van Gaal repeat.
A Messi better sheltered than ever, for which Lionel Scaloni has been finding the ideal chorus.
The appearances of Enzo Fernández, Julián Álvarez and Mac Allister have boosted an Argentina distinguished by the panorama of its captain, delayed to scan the entire game of the team from his privileged observatory.
Messi, on top of that, has not lacked a goal (three, one of his World Cup record and two of Batistuta's World Cup record).
The Netherlands has made a move with Van Gaal.
From the traditional seductive selection to a more content team.
It happens that Van Gaal has better defenses than attackers, with Van Dijk, Aké, De Ligt in the center and brilliant full-backs like Dumfries and Blind, two offensive fans who even scored goals against the United States.
Cody Gakpo, the 23-year-old striker for PSV, has lit up before the goal.
And in any case: headlong against Ecuador, with the left leg against Senegal and with the right against Qatar.
In Lusail, the scene of the match, the only Spanish presence in Qatar: the Valencian referee Mateu Lahoz.
The Argentine press has rewound without delay to emphasize that in 2020 Messi was admonished for showing a shirt that paid homage to Maradona, recently deceased, in a Barcelona-Osasuna.
Neither more nor less than with Messi and Maradona in the middle.
The Portuguese revolution.
Fate can be devilish.
The main daffodil of world football has been carried away by his own vedetism.
Cristiano's navel has clouded.
He has not known how to measure time.
Yesterday can no longer compete with today and it was not the time to be rude to his coach.
And neither did he calculate that Gonçalo Ramos has a course connected with Benfica.
On CR's day in the dark room, his relief sang up to three goals.
Revolution in sight in a selection that has plenty without the current version of CR.
Opposite, Morocco, which passed Croatia and Belgium and ruined Spain.
A team with bones, with resources in all sectors, from Bono to Boufal, En-Nesyri and Ziyech.
With wings—Achraf, Mazraoui—a phenomenal midfielder who is actually an all -
like Amrabat, and a light, subtle midfielder like the up-and-coming Ounahi.
The backbone of Morocco refers to players recruited from top clubs: PSG, Bayern, Chelsea.
In Rabat the state of optimism has been declared.
Walker and Mbappé, at full speed.
Qatar will stay in the quarterfinals at least without a champion and without Kane or Mbappé.
England-France, a game through the roof between two opponents to the title.
Together with Brazil, the most expansive of the tournament.
The selection of Didier Deschamps with the standard-bearer Mbappé, whose maximum speed of 35.2 km/h has been measured.
To Walker, the Englishman with the best conditions for his arrest, 34.7.
They will not be the only protagonists.
France has a categorical Griezmann, with a lot of Griezmann, a lot of Benzema, a lot of whatever and wherever.
player like a musketeer.
In France, so injured without Benzema, Lucas Hernández, Kanté and Pogba, Rabiot works and Giroud has aim.
England still lacks Kane's skill, with more play than goal for now.
But with resources plentiful, Foden, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, and Xaka are on target.
Gareth Southgate's side have found stability with Bellingham and Rice, a complementary pairing with a repertoire in all facets of the game.
There is a factory in France and England, two classics that have only met twice in the World Cups.
A bad memory for the Gauls, beaten in England 66 (2-0) and in Spain 82, when Keegan's team was able to beat Platini's (3-1) in San Mamés.
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