Qatar 2022 – Round of 16 Review

Will penalties be taken properly again?

The Dutch seem to be doing just enough to get through their matches this World Cup and it is proving to be a game plan the players are really “buying in to” with the stern faced Van Gaal. I chose the USA to overcome the Oranje with the opening match in the round of 16 games and was hopeful that their offensive prowess, work ethic and real drive to win would really shock the Dutch and force their hand. The worst possible start to any game is an early goal against and it really set the Netherlands up for the remaining 80 minutes; stay compact, don’t lose your man and be ready for the counter – similar to France at the last World Cup who scored early and then pumped the ball to an eager Mbappe that continuously broke up the tempo of games. The US should be encouraged as they have a lot of young talent and a squad that will compete in 2026 in front of their home crowd.

Argentina as expected progressed but not without their usual defensive calamities that could have cost them. The mazy dribble from Aziz Behich through the collapsing bodies in the Argentine penalty area only to be thwarted by a desperate Martinez and then Garang Kuol’s easy spin off of the pylon that is Tagliafico saved by a sharp Martinez in goal were the only memorable moments from the Aussie’s point of view. Even the goal was headed to the moon if it wasn’t for the kind deflection. The magician that is Messi seems to be gaining steam with every match; another goal, scintillating dribbling, perfectly timed passing and his supporting cast really seem to be buying in to the plan, notably De Paul, Alvarez and Fernandez have been shining bright.

Messi still appears the main draw at this tournament, but Kylian Mbappe is right behind him waiting for the baton to be passed backwards so he can use his burning rubber pace to sprint in to the superstardom that awaits (or is currently immersed in). Although a group effort, Mbappe is the star of the show most of the time for France and Giroud just seems to get the job done when the chance comes his way, a perfect muse for each other. Aside from Lewandoski’s atrocious penalty efforts with the final kick(s), the match played out with no real surprise and France cruised through with little effort.

Senegal needed to get to half time and keep the momentum going and sadly they just couldn’t keep their shape or track back. What if Sarr dinked it over Pickford instead of hitting the back row of the stadium? Or, if Pickford doesn’t have an arm of steel to deny Dia? Instead some poor tracking back for all three goals combined with a couple explosive dribbles from the next big money transfer Jude Bellingham, and England were able to cruise as easily as France did into the quarter finals.

My pick for game of the round turned out to be the worst and most disappointing game of the tournament thus far. Japan’s earlier games showed they belonged with the big boys at the tournament with their discipline, work ethic and willingness to attack their opponents and never sit back yet defend resolutely. Croatia has a team that can certainly challenge to be in the final again which made their performance all the more painful. The statistics would have you think this was an incredible match, but it was full of misplaced passes, over hit crosses and shots that were mostly erratic. Perisic showed his class though with his hold up play and a wonderful header. Croatia are full of class enabling them to have an off game and have one world class player drag them through. It was good to see my man Maeda get a lovely goal off a wonderful training ground corner kick but it was few and far between all match ouside of a couple long range efforts from either team. The penalties are difficult to talk about; I thought it was ten year olds taking them for Japan where I believe I could have saved a couple. A good showing from the lads from the far East, none the less.

Joga Bonito! Yes, the Brazilians certainly showed what they are made of with a beautiful display of football against a very, horribly prepared Korea side that as I mentioned before, deserved something out of every group game. Was it the aura of the Brazilian side? Simply atrocious tactics from Paulo Bento? Did Korea just get lost in the samba boys movement? Whatever the case Brazil brought it and scored some wonderful team goals aided by woeful defending. Mistimed tackle for the first, mistimed tackle for the second, watched Richarlison bobble the ball on his head for the third, and a cheeky dink into the box for a wide open Paqueta for the fourth. The pass from Thiago Silva to Richarlison for the third goal was pass of the tournament for me, but Korea aided Brazil’s swagger by being so bad and you can bet Croatia will not give Brazil that easy of a game again. If Thiago Silva had the pass of the tournament, Paik Seung-Ho so far has the goal of the tournament that he can take home with him. Still, the Brazilians gave the fans what they wanted so onward and upward for them. Another team for the far east goes home after some terrific displays in the group stage.

The dream continues for Morocco and Spain constantly refuse to alter anything against any side that play counter attacking football against them. 77% possession and one shot on target is just plain and simply agonizing for the Spanish supporters to endure. I felt for them, I really did, as Spain are certainly the more superior footballing side of the two but the will of the Moroccan players, the guts, the bravery and the energy they found to continuously counter attack when given the chance was nothing short of miraculous. FIFA/Qatar managed to fill the stadium with 75% Moroccan support which also helped keep the spirits high mind you, but you can’t take anything away from them. Heart, courage, bleeding for the badge combined with a handful of highly skilled players and it is looking like a recipe for success. If I couldn’t speak about the Japanese penalties….my word, the Spanish should have let the coaching staff hit them instead. After the Japan match I gathered I would never see a tamer effort in my life….Spain said, “hold my sangria”.

No Ronaldo? No problem! I have been discussing this with my Portuguese pals for a couple years now and have said that the development of the Portuguese attack with their excellent youth has been hindered by the truly great Ronaldo. Of course, he is the only player worthy to stake a claim that he belongs starting lineup for his country after all he has contributed. However, the game against Switzerland showed that loyalty in spite of success is foolish and I was proud of Fernando Santos for showing him who is boss and doing what was best for the country and not for the sake of glamour. Another team that was just absolutely shocking in the last 16 was Switzerland. They should have just flew home and taken the round of 16 prize money, but that would have robbed Goncalo Ramos of his moment that is now etched in Portuguese folklore and will be praised long after the tournament. Joao Felix looked incredibly relaxed out there without Ronaldo and Silva, Bruno, Carvalho (another masterstroke from Santos dropping Neves) and Otavio just had an incredible amount of fun that truly would not have been had if they were forced to play ‘another route up top’. Pepe, as quoted by Peter Drury, was older than the referee and old enough to be the father of Ramos, scored a terrific header to celebrate his 132nd cap.

More emotions, high and low, and penalties proving too much to handle for some nations. I scored 75% in the round of 16, hoping that the round of 8 I hit all four semi finalists.

Quarter Final Predictions

  • Croatia/Brazil
  • Netherlands/Argentina
  • Morocco/Portugal
  • England/France

For the sake of beauty and story telling I hope that Morocco prove me wrong, but Portugal looked fantastic. Croatia are stars but Brazil are dancing with the stars and seem destined. Argentina keep gaining momentum and the Netherlands don’t have it, yet? Mbappe vs Kyle Walker, until Mbappe switches wings and burns Luke Shaw? Who do you have going through? Enjoy the quarter finals everyone!

Join the discussion for "Qatar 2022 – Round of 16 Review"

  1. December 9, 2022 @ 2:23 pm
    "Croatia are stars but Brazil are dancing with the stars and seem destined."... ...apparently NOT!
  2. December 11, 2022 @ 11:11 am
    It's now indisputable. Canada was in the toughest group. Will our 2022 World Cup Legacy* be "the only team that Morocco conceded to"? For those thinking that's pure fantasy, I'll remind you of the 2004 Euros where underdogs Greece won the quarters, semis, and finals with three 1 - 0 scorelines. *Oh, and the fastest goal. (◔_◔)

Leave a Reply

You must be registered BAS member AND logged in to participate in discussions. BAS reserves the right to remove any comment, without notice or explanation.