The quarter-finals of World Cup 2022 continue on Saturday, as Morocco look to upset Spain and England take on France.
The odds for December 10 have been taken from the DraftKings sportsbook, where you can get up to $1250 in free bets.
Fernando Santos made a big call by dropping Cristiano Ronaldo for Tuesday’s last-16 tie with Switzerland - and it paid off massively. Goncalo Ramos, Ronaldo’s replacement, scored a hat-trick as Portugal ran out 6-1 winners to book their place in the quarter-finals in style.
All three of Ramos’ goals were well taken. Needless to say, he will start up front again this weekend. Portugal looked much more fluid without Ronaldo at the top of the pitch, with Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes all impressing against the Swiss.
Ronaldo is still the favorite to score anytime against Morocco, but Ramos is a much better choice - and not just because he will feature from the first whistle.
Morocco are a tough nut to crack. They have only conceded once at this World Cup - and that was an unfortunate own goal in a 2-1 defeat of Canada on matchday three of the group phase. Spain were unable to break them down in the semi-finals, as the two teams drew 0-0 before Morocco’s triumph in the penalty shoot-out.
Those 120 minutes of intense, high-stakes football will have taken a lot out of the Atlas Lions. Portugal, by contrast, were able to conserve energy against Switzerland given the win was in effect wrapped up at half-time.
With Morocco set to sit deep and focus on trying to keep Portugal out, the latter’s defense might not come under too much pressure. Back Santos’ charges to keep a clean sheet.
This is perhaps the most evenly matched of all four quarter-finals. France, the reigning world champions, begin the game as narrow favorites, but England will not necessarily mind being the underdogs. Indeed, Gareth Southgate will hope to use that to his team’s advantage.
We can expect a tight opening quarter of this match, as neither team will want to cede an early advantage. But things could open up a little after 30 or so minutes, with the chance to hold a half-time lead a significant incentive.
Both England and France scored in this timeslot in the round of 16. A goal in the final 15 minutes of the first half therefore looks like an attractive choice.
France are difficult to stop when they are in full flow, and a front three of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Ousmane Dembele is the best in the tournament. Les Bleus notched three goals against Poland in the round of 16 and they probably could have scored more had they needed to.
England also pack a punch in the attack: in fact, no team in Qatar has scored more goals than the Three Lions, who have found the back of the net 12 times in their four matches to date.
We fancy the attacks to come out on top on Saturday, even if Southgate and Didier Deschamps do have a tendency toward tactical caution. Over 2.5 goals could be the way to go in this one.
Dates: November 20 - December 18
How to Watch: Fox Sports, Telemundo, fuboTV
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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