Story by Anashe Murombedzi
IT is South America vs Europe in the first two quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup this Friday, with Brazil up against Croatia while Argentina faces the Netherlands.
In a repeat of the 2014 World Cup matchups, Brazil will face Croatia in Qatar this Friday, with a ticket to the semi-finals of the 2022 tournament up for grabs.
Unlike in the 2014 edition of the World Cup, the two teams are meeting in the quarter-finals, with Brazil chasing a record 6th World Cup triumph, while Croatia are hoping to atone for the loss to France in the 2018 final.
Brazil boasts runner-up of a superior head-to-head record against Croatia, having won three times and drawn once in four meetings, two of which were at a World Cup.
Neymar, Dani Alves, and Captain Thiago Silva are the remnants of the crop of 2014 that brushed aside the Croats 3-1 in the opening match of the tournament that also featured Croatia’s current captain, Luka Modric.
Of the two sides, the Samba Boys should have more confidence after thumping South Korea 4-1 in the round of 16, while Croatia scraped through after beating Japan on penalties.
The quarter-final match is slated for Education City Stadium at 5 pm.
In the other last eight encounters set for Friday, Argentina clash with the Netherlands at 9 pm.
Lionel Messi, who is chasing World Cup glory on a fifth attempt will be hoping to lead the COPA America champions to a podium finish but will have to first overcome the Dutch in a tricky encounter that can go either way.
Argentina edged Australia 2-1 in the round of 16 to book a quarter-final berth against the Dutch, who beat USA 3-1 to progress.
Argentina were the runners-up in the 2014 edition, while the Netherlands lost narrowly to Spain in the final in 2010.