The group stage is over and it’s time for the main event where the knockout rounds of the 2022 FIFA World Cup begin. There’s no time to ease yourself into important games when you start pitching USA takes on the Netherlands In one of the most interesting games of the round, Argentina then faced one of the surprise teams of the tournament in Australia.
For the U.S., Saturday’s game offers a chance to match their best performance at a men’s World Cup in modern times. The run to the quarter-finals in 2002 was the deepest run since the first World Cup in 1930, where two group-stage victories secured entry into the semi-finals. It was a Dutch team that was drawn in Group A with Ecuador, Senegal and hosts Qatar. USA, on the other hand, was pushed by one of the favorites in England. A 0-0 draw. In between, they drew 1-1 with Wales in their opening game and advanced after beating Iran 1-0.
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Saturday’s World Cup Schedule
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Netherlands vs. USA, 10 a.m. ET
A matchup to watch: Cody Kakpo vs. Sergino Test/Anthony Robinson. Kakpo was the main goal scorer for the Netherlands and he Usually plays on the right side of attack For them (as a striker or winger, depending on how you define his position). But the Netherlands may be tempted to switch it up and play on the left, where he plays for his club PSV Eindhoven, fitting him against the defensively suspect Test. Anyway, the Dutch didn’t create many chances, but when they did, Kakpo comes to their end. He has scored in every game for the Netherlands so far, and it will be up to the American fullbacks to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Special game | Netherlands vs USA
Most likely to score: Christian Pulisic. He scored goals and sacrificed his body in action against Iran. That goal was the difference and sent the U.S. into the knockout round. If they are going to continue this ride, Pulisic can terrorize a Dutch defense and create for himself and others. This American side took more shots than the Dutch did in the group stage, so look for Pulisic to attack and run the show.
Man of the Match: Matt Turner. It won’t take a lot of saves, but America needs to come up with one or two big ones if he wants to pull this off. And that kind of game is in him. Turner may not be the best with his feet, but he’s good at doing the primary thing goalkeepers get paid to do: stop shots. A great team doesn’t have to depend on their keeper. But it’s not the best teams, it’s good to want to pull and upset. Turner has a key role to play in that.
Match Prediction: An early Pulisic goal set the tone and a pair of late Matt Turner saves slammed the door on a historic upset for the United States Men’s National Team. Won 1-0.
Argentina vs. Australia, 2pm ET
A matchup to watch: Nicolas Otamendi vs. Matthew Leckie. Odamendi is the veteran presence in this backline, and he sets the tone with his aggressiveness and strength. Leckie, on the other hand, is a piece in attack that can give this team the edge, as we saw against Denmark. Otamendi will need to keep Legky in front of him and get support to close him down, otherwise the attacker should have what it takes to spring a surprise for the Aussies.
Special game | Argentina vs Australia
Most likely to score: Lionel Messi. After saving a penalty against Poland, he will be hungry to score here. On paper, Argentina are 10 times better than the Aussies, but the same is true against Saudi Arabia. Messi knows that whatever lead they get, they have to build on it and not let anyone cling to it. Expect him to take some deep hits in this one.
Man of the Match: Enzo Fernandez. He has been impressive since the second game and has cemented his place in the middle. He can do a little bit of everything and has the quick decision-making instincts needed to change the game in attack. He will be great again.
Match Prediction: As in the Poland game, Argentina dominated possession and chances. Argentina 2, Australia 0.
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