By Alex Al-Kazzaz
Half of the 2022 FIFA World Cup round of 16 is complete. Argentina, Netherlands, France, and England are all through to the final eight of the tournament. Netherlands and Argentina will face off on December 9th with France and England squaring off the next day.
Argentina narrowly defeated Australia 2-1 to advance while the Netherlands beat the United States 3-1. England beat Senegal 3-0 while France emerged victorious over Robert Lewandowski & Poland in a hard-fought match with a 3-1 final score. France's Kylian Mbappe is currently the tournament's top scorer with five goals and is coming a tremendous and dominant performance against Poland.
Argentina vs Netherlands is a rematch of the 2014 World Cup semifinal clash where Argentina won to advance to the final. In 1978, Argentina beat Netherlands in the World Cup final and in 1998, Netherlands beat Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals. There's a history between the two national teams and both are determined to write the next chapter in their respective history. Argentina came into this tournament as one of the heavy favorites to hoist the title and they're looking to win it all for the first time since 1986. In the Netherlands' case, they've been to the World Cup final three times; 1974, 1978, and 2010. But they've never been able to win and they're hoping to overcome the odds and win their first world title.
Four years ago, Netherlands wasn't at the World Cup and Argentina was eliminated at the round of 16. For Argentina, this is likely the final World Cup for Lionel Messi. As far as Netherlands goes, they're determined to shock the world and finally hoist the title after many years and decades of waiting and wondering.
France vs England. Two respective national teams determined to be on top of the mountain. France are currently the defending world champions and are looking to becoming the first team in over 60 years to successfully retain the title. England is looking to win their first world title since 1966 and avenge their loss to Italy at the Euro 2020 final which took place at Wembley Stadium.
England and France both came into this tournament as respective heavy favorites. Unfortunately for France, they've been hit hard by the injury bug. They lost Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku before the start of the tournament and then they lost Lucas Hernandez in their opening game against Australia. France came into this tournament without Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, who both were a huge part of the championship triumph four years ago in Russia.
Raheem Sterling was unavailable for England against Senegal, but that didn't seem to affect England. So it's clear that England may have a bit of an advantage, but then again, France has Mbappe who has been outstanding so far. Mbappe may very well be the difference maker for France again. It's clear that both France and England come into this game with a loaded and talented lineup. Both national teams are determined to make it to the final four.
The remaining round of 16 games are Japan vs Croatia, Portugal vs Switzerland, Morocco vs Spain, and Brazil vs South Korea. On Tuesday, the round of 16 will be complete. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has had more than its fair share of surprises and shockers so far. With plenty of soccer left to play, there's no telling what will happen next.