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Mbappe is threat to Lions

Sports 08 Dec, 2022 Follow News

Kylian Mbappe has been sensational

Marcus Rashford has rekindled his mojo

Lionel Messi desperately wants that trophy

Goncalo Ramos has impressed for Portugal

Morocco are the surprise team so far

Vinicius Jr is one of many Brazilian stars

Despite all the controversies around staging the World Cup in Qatar, the football has been mesmerising with plenty of goals and breath taking action. Now the tournament is at the business end and we’re into the quarter-finals.

England came through their first knockout-stage test with a comfortable 3-0 win against Senegal in the last 16.

Now manager Gareth Southgate has to choose a side to take on defending champions France on Saturday.

Bukayo Saka came in for Marcus Rashford on Sunday and was on the scoresheet along with Jordan Henderson and captain Harry Kane. Saka and Rashford have been sensational, as if extra motivated by their penalty shoot-out misses in the Euros last yea

Southgate must decide whether to pick the same starting XI that got the job done against Senegal. Or maybe the Three Lions need a slight change in formation to deal with Kylian Mbappe and the rest of Didier Deschamps’ brilliant side.

With Raheem Sterling having returned to the UK after his home was burgled, he is still available for selection but it is not yet confirmed if or when the Chelsea winger will return to Qatar.

Portugal moved to the last eight in some style on Tuesday. They fired six past Switzerland, and on a day when their fabled forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, was left on the bench. It was a 21-year-old, Goncalo Ramos, who relished the limelight and centre stage. Pepe too got a goal before Guerreiro and Leao joined the party. It was a valiant effort from the Swiss in the World Cup but for Portugal, the focus shifts to Morocco on Saturday. The Africans stunned the Spanish on Tuesday and will have their sights set on causing another upset.

Brazil could not be in better shape going into the last eight, despite the loss of Gabriel Jesus and Alex Telles to injury.

Neymar was the headline act against South Korea in his comeback after an ankle problem but he had to share top billing with his attacking team-mates Richarlison and Vinicius Jr.

Vinicius showed his class when putting Brazil ahead early on, and then Neymar got in the act from the spot - his ‘Riverdance’ footwork on his stuttering approach embellishing the penalty. It leaves him one behind Pele’s all-time record of 77 goals for his country.

Lucas Paqueta volleyed a sumptuous fourth from Vinicius’ cross before half-time, allowing Brazil from then on to preserve energy for Croatia.

Brazil have been easing their way into this World Cup, even losing to Cameroon in the group stage, but the first 45 minutes was an outstanding side on full power, sending a message to rivals that they are the most accomplished side so far.

A rematch of the 2014 World Cup semi-final sees the Netherlands look to get revenge for elimination as they take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in the quarterfinals this time.

Messi scored his penalty in that 2014 shootout alongside three teammates, helping his team to reach the final, while Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder missed to leave the Dutch relegated to the third-place match.

While Messi fell short in that 2014 final to Germany, he’ll have visions of glory this time, probably his last World Cup. It will be a difficult road, as he’ll first have to get by a Dutch side that’s gone 19 matches unbeaten across all competitions and 11 unbeaten in the World Cup.

Louis van Gaal has confirmed he will depart the Netherlands job at the end of their tournament run, and he’ll be hoping his duties don’t quite come to an end just yet.

World Cup quarter-finals

Friday, 9 December:

Croatia v Brazil (10am Cayman time)

Netherlands v Argentina (2pm)

Saturday, 10 December:

Morocco v Portugal (10am)

England v France (2pm)

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