World Cup 2022 Knockout Stage: 2nd-Round Schedule, Odds and Bracket Predictions
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The United States men’s national team is one of 16 soccer squads that will begin the second stage of the quest for the 2022 FIFA World Cup title.
The Americans are the only North American nation to make it to the knockout round in a tournament that is typically dominated by European and South American teams.
The U.S. will take on one of those European powers, the Netherlands, in the opening match of the knockout round on Saturday.
Six of the eight round-of-16 games are set after Thursday’s group-stage action. Brazil and Portugal will be locked into two of the remaining matchups, likely as group winners, and they will be joined by two other teams that will be confirmed Friday.
Most of the set knockout matches pit teams from different confederations against each other. One of the all-European matchups could deliver attacking fireworks with two of the best forwards in the world, France’s Kylian Mbappé and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, facing each other Sunday.
One of the other European powers. Spain, faces an intriguing matchup with Morocco, which surprisingly took first in Group E in front of Croatia and Belgium.
Round-of-16 Schedule and Odds
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Saturday, December 3
Netherlands (-105; bet $105 to win $100) vs. United States (+330; bet $100 to win $330) (10 a.m. ET, Fox)
Argentina (-500) vs. Australia (+1300) (2 p.m. ET, Fox)
Sunday, December 4
France (-330) vs. Poland (+950) (10 a.m. ET, FS1)
England (-190) vs. Senegal (+650) (2 p.m. ET, FS1)
Monday, December 5
Japan (+310) vs. Croatia (+105) (10 a.m. ET, Fox)
Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up (2 p.m. ET, Fox)
Tuesday, December 6
Morocco (+600) vs. Spain (-185) (10 a.m. ET, Fox)
Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up (2 p.m. ET, Fox)
Netherlands vs. United States
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The United States stands a chance to move on to the quarterfinals because of its defense.
The Americans did not allow a goal in open play during their run to second place in Group B. The only concession came on Gareth Bale’s penalty for Wales in their opening match.
Tyler Adams’ ball-winning skills in front of the back line have been vital to disrupting opposing attacks. Tim Ream has been solid in the air and with his positioning at center back.
Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest have formed one of the best fullback duos in the tournament and so valuable to the Americans on both ends of the pitch. They have been reliable in defense and were superb in getting forward against Iran.
The Netherlands were not an attacking powerhouse in the group stage. Cody Gakpo scored three of the five goals, and only three of their tallies occurred before the 80th minute.
The Dutch needed two late goals to beat Senegal. Gakpo scored in the sixth minute against Ecuador, but then they could not find the back of the net again.
Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT has not been on fire in the final third either, but it is comfortable with playing a low-scoring game, and that is the way it will win Saturday.
Christian Pulisic’s health is in question after he went off at halftime against Iran, but if he plays, that will provide a big boost to the American attack, which has lacked scoring from its collection of forwards.
The Oranje will be comfortable playing with the lead, so the Americans have to put them under pressure to either win with one goal or push the contest into extra time.
Gakpo is the biggest difference-maker within the two squads, but if the Americans limit the PSV striker’s chances, they could advance into the final eight and set up a potential matchup with Argentina.
Prediction: United States 1, Netherlands 0
France vs. Poland
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France proved throughout the group stage how overwhelming its attack can be.
The reigning World Cup champion powered four goals past Australia in the opener after it went down a goal in the ninth minute.
France showed its bounce-back ability against Denmark, when Mbappé opened the scoring and answered a Danish equalizer with his second goal of the match.
Didier Deschamps’ side did not score in its final group-stage game against Tunisia, but it put a ton of pressure on the African side in the last 30 minutes once the team’s starters came on the field. Antoine Griezmann had a goal at the death ruled out by VAR.
Poland looks like a menacing squad on paper because of Lewandowski’s presence, but the Barcelona striker only has one goal in six World Cup games. That tally came on a defensive error by Saudi Arabia in the team’s second game of this tournament.
The Poles failed to score in a draw with Mexico and a loss to Argentina, which should cause concern for the team’s foray into the round of 16.
France has displayed a knack to score in key moments, while Poland has been unable to break dry spells in the final third.
Les Bleus have the advantage up top with Mbappé, Griezmann and Olivier Giroud working well together in the final third, and they have an engine room of midfielders driving them forward as well.
Poland has the potential to score a handful of goals, but its service for Lewandowski and overall play in the final third has been poor for most of the tournament, and that could doom its World Cup title hopes.
Prediction: France 3, Poland 0
Morocco vs. Spain
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Morocco-Spain is a fascinating round-of-16 clash that no one expected to see, especially with the order in which both teams finished in their respective groups.
The Moroccans beat Canada and Belgium and tied Croatia to win Group F. The Atlas Lions have Youssef En-Nesyri of Sevilla and Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech driving their attack.
En-Nesyri could especially important to Morocco’s upset bid against Spain because he has experience playing against most of the Spanish squad in La Liga.
Spain proved to be vulnerable in its group finale against Japan in which the Asian side struck for two goals in three minutes after it made a few adjustments at halftime.
That was one of the few slip-ups suffered by Spain in the group stage, and if the Spanish clean up those errors, they should make it into the quarterfinals.
Luis Enrique’s side plays with a clear identity through its pass-heavy attack, and it has an in-form scorer in Álvaro Morata, who scored three goals in three group games.
Spain can match the defensive intensity that Morocco showed in the group stage, and it will have a game plan to take Morocco’s top two attackers out of a rhythm.
La Roja may not win by an abundance of goals, but it can wear down Morocco enough to score once and advance.
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