Sea of Brazilian football fans with a smattering of Croatian fans mixed in too

World Cup 2022 quarter-final review: varying fortunes for South American giants

South American giants Brazil and Argentina had varying fortunes in their World Cup quarter-final battles.

In the first half of the quarter-final draw, both matches were decided by spot-kicks.

Brazil crashed out to Croatia 4-2 after their goal each in extra-time left it 1-1, and Argentina overcame the Netherlands 4-3 after a dramatic 2-2 draw in normal time.

Here are our key takeaways for the four sides.

Netherlands 2 (3) – (4) 2 Argentina 

Argentina: Dreams of a Lionel Messi World Cup to cement his place as the greatest footballer edge ever closer as they advanced to the semi-final by defeating the Netherlands on penalties.

They passed the emotional Dutch test with desire, anger and plenty of yellow cards. Messi’s self-proclaimed ‘bodyguards’ shared 18 yellow cards and a red with the Netherlands.

With plenty to say after the full-time whistle, they directed their passionate outbursts at the officials, opposition players, and coaching staff.

Messi and goalkeeper Emi Martinez took aim at the opposition manager Louis van Gaal after they deemed his pre-match fighting talk as disrespectful.

An instantly iconic image was captured of the Argentinian players taunting their crestfallen opposition as the winning penalty hit the back of the net.

If Argentina are to win this competition, the deciding factor is likely to be Messi and his adoring nation in support.

The man with some of football’s greatest moments will be implored to produce some more and win Argentina their first World Cup since Maradona in 1986. 

Netherlands: Perhaps Louis van Gaal’s critics were right.

The faltering Dutchmen failed to create any semblance of a chance against Argentina until two 6ft plus strikers were introduced, and Vigil van Dijk was thrown forward for good measure.

Wout Weghorst twice beat a self-destructing defence, only for the side to sit back again and usher in penalties, a gamble which did not pay off.

Dutch fans will hope the incoming Ronald Koeman can breathe new life into the likes of Frenkie de Jong, playing the Champagne Football that got him the Barcelona job, rather than the feeble football that lost it.

If either is the case the next tournament, should they make it, will host a new-look Netherlands compared to van Gaal’s risk averse Oranje.

Croatia 1 (4) – (2) 1 Brazil

Croatia: It was Croatia who put a stop to Brazil’s dancing and produced one of the most shocking triumphs in this World Cup so far.

A country with a population of 3.8 million, less than half that of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro alone, came through at the death to equalise Neymar’s efforts.

Goalkeeper Dominik Livaković stepped up to the plate denying multiple Brazilian attempts to advance throughout the match. 

And in a tournament already rich with penalty shootout drama, he thwarted the first penalty from Rodrygo and allowed his side to slot all four of theirs.

Croatia have been to six World Cups since becoming an independent nation in the 90s and have made it to the semi-finals three times. 

Now, after knocking out the favourites, they seek entry to their second consecutive World Cup final. 

In their way stands another heavyweight — Argentina. 

Brazil: Despite having the best overall performance in World Cup history (both proportional and absolute terms), Brazil have been knocked out of the race at quarter-final stage by Croatia to continue their 20 year streak without the trophy. 

The Seleção suffered a devastating blow on Friday at the hands of a penalty shootout against Croatia losing 1-1 (4-2). 

Extra-time provided the Brazilians a chance to get ahead which Neymar took advantage of with his 77th goal, matching Pele’s international record for the team. 

However this glory was short-lived when Bruno Petković equalised to take away the Brazilian lead and sent the game to penalties. 

One of the most disappointing of these shootout chances belonged to Marquinhos (Marcos Aoás Corrêa) who’s shot came off the woodwork. 

Fans were left in streams of tears as the Brazilian players sat in defeat on the pitch, taking in the loss of a nation boasting 214 million against Croatia’s four. 

In the aftermath of this early exit, their previous manager Tite has resigned which ends his six-year-long reign in charge of the nation’s team, having won 60 out of 81 matches. 

Another question mark surrounding the team is whether starplayer Neymar will continue with Brazil to the next World Cup, as he will be 34. 

Featured image: Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons

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