MADRID, Dec. 7 (.) –
The World Cup in Qatar continues to advance and faces a final stretch with exciting duels, already between some of the favorite teams to lift the trophy. Four world champions -France, Brazil, Argentina and England-, the revelation Morocco, the always ‘covered’ Croatia, current runner-up in the world, and the attractive applicants Portugal and England are the survivors of the round of 16. We review the data of these eight final candidates.
1. Croatia. To put the finishing touch to a fruitful generation.
After their hard work and surprising runner-up in Russia 2018, the ‘chess’ team aspires to culminate with greatness the career of one of its best generations. Led by Luka Modric, the Balkan team knew how to suffer against Japan in the round of 16 (1-1, they needed penalties) to now face their biggest challenge against the top favourite. They are the third World Cup quarterfinals that she has played and she has always surpassed them since in France’98 she finished third.
2. Brazil. Menacing favorite to put on his sixth crown.
From less to more in Qatar, the ‘Canarinha’ was a steamroller against South Korea (4-1) with one of its most powerful, talented and threatening generations in recent years, with Tite firmly betting on four forwards (Neymar, Vinicius , Raphinha and Richarlison) without losing defensive solidity. After a group stage without excessive shine, although solvent, they are three games away from lifting the World Cup 20 years later. His reign in the World Cups is unquestionable, leading all the figures, with 113 games played, 76 victories and 236 goals scored.
3, Netherlands. Out of the pools, before the great examination of him.
Louis Van Gaal has put together a harmonized block despite having a squad with few relevant and media names. The Dutch return to the quarterfinals after a disappointing absence in 2018 and failing to meet the expectations generated after their runner-up in 2010 and third place in 2014. However, Argentina, their executioner in 2014, will be their first real level test, after an affordable World Cup start. He has played 21 World Cup qualifiers, with 47 percent efficiency, and is the team with the most runners-up (3).
4. Argentina. Almost 40 years of waiting for the World Cup and Messi’s ‘debt’.
She suffered the great surprise of the World Cup when she lost in her debut against Saudi Arabia, a scare that aroused the ‘albiceleste’ character so as not to break her candidate poster. With a system that plays for the ‘last’ Messi, Scaloni’s men face a demanding final stretch, in which the ’10’ can surpass Diego Armando Maradona as the Argentine with the most matches in World Cups (21) and that with nine goals he is just one behind Gabriel Batistuta as the top Argentine scorer in the World Cups. They have not won the World Cup since 1986 and since then they have only made it past the quarterfinals twice, in 1990 and 2014, when they reached the final. She is the only champion of her confederation who is still alive.
5, Morocco. Fourth African to reach the quarterfinals and Arab representative.
The ‘Atlas Lions’ believed their revelation status and made history by eliminating Spain in the round of 16. An unprecedented triumph in the country that meant being among the eight best teams in the World Cup for the first time and becoming the fourth African team to reach the quarterfinals, after Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010). , and representative of the Arab world. A talented generation that is rocky and tough at the same time that can lead the way for an entire continent with the first African semifinals in their sixth participation. He has only conceded one goal in the tournament.
6. Portugal. An outstanding team to be a serious applicant.
It was not on the list of the main candidates, but Fernando Santos has in his possession one of the most talented squads, with its geniuses Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese stopped the convulsive situation that surrounds Cristiano Ronaldo, who was a substitute, with a win (6-1) against Switzerland, with his substitute, Gonçalo Ramos, as the protagonist with a hat-trick. He has the opportunity to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, with third place in 1966 -with Eusébio- as a ceiling.
7. England. Star-studded template to dream big.
The Southgate team, current runner-up in Europe, is facing a great opportunity to fight realistically to lift the trophy almost 60 years later, after beating Senegal 3-0 in the round of 16. His unorthodox but highly effective style might be enough, with diamond Jude Bellingham a defining piece in a star-studded roster. Their first and last title dates back to 1966, although in Qatar they could continue their great regularity with the semifinals of Russia 2018 and the runner-up at EURO 2020.
8. France. The Mbappé-Griezmann pairing to repeat as champion 60 years later.
Leaving behind the first phase curse that plagued the champions in the previous three editions, France presented their strong bid with a serious group stage and a convincing round of 16 (3-1 to Poland). A toned and top scorer (5) Kylian Mbappé and an omnipresent Antoine Griezmann support French favoritism, which could allow a champion to repeat the title for the first time since 1962, when Brazil achieved it -also won in 1958-. Italy (1934 and 1938) is the other team that celebrated this feat.