World Cup Quarterfinal Day 1: Croatia/Brazil & Netherlands/Argentina

DJnVa

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Kicking off tomorrow--

10 am: Croatia/Brazil--Man, Brazil just seems like a machine right now and they are big favorites here (-275 to win, -650 to advance). I can't see Croatia keeping up with Neymar, Richarlison, Pedro, Vinicius, etc. The 10 best odds for first goal in this game are all Brazilian players. So, literally every field player for Brazil has a better chance of opening the scoring than any Croatian. Might be a lot more samba--Brazil 4-1.

2 pm: Netherlands/Argentina--I'm already wondering how many times during this match I will watch Netherlands fire a ball over the net or miss out on the cutback pass and mutter "Sure, now that happens". This should be a fun game, with Messi a slight favorite (+125, -160). I'm on Team Messi here all the way, but I'm not sure I'm confident enough on that to put any of my money on it. Gonna call it 1-1, with Argentina advancing in PKs.
 

dirtynine

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In another timeline, us Americans would be absolutely giddy / shitting a brick right / cancelling Friday meetings right now. That would have been quite a collective moment for American soccer.

Gotta pull for Brazil and then Messi, to set up the best semi storyline.
 

InstaFace

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I gave us a 30% chance to advance over Netherlands. I still think if we play that game 10 times we win 2 or 3.

I would give us <10% against Argentina. Totally different class of team, with them even more focused and motivated than when they clowned us in the Copa America in 2016. And as the game draws on, Argentina's advantage in depth (for subs) should prove out. The Dutch have a terrific starting lineup, and aren't as shallow as the USA was, but they are not nearly as deep as an Argentina / Brazil / France level squad.

And yeah, every neutral should be pulling for Brazil-Argentina semifinal. Max Bretos was saying on his episode from yesterday that it's been a long long time since we've seen that matchup matter at the world cup, and it was epic last time around. They play each other basically every Copa America, and they play WCQ together, and they always want to beat the other really badly... but this is the first time in a long time that it's life-or-death to both sides.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

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In another timeline, us Americans would be absolutely giddy / shitting a brick right / cancelling Friday meetings right now. That would have been quite a collective moment for American soccer.

Gotta pull for Brazil and then Messi, to set up the best semi storyline.
Canceling meetings? With this game at 12pm here, a lot of companies, including the one I work in, won't even bother to open. It's basically a World Cup holyday.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I gave us a 30% chance to advance over Netherlands. I still think if we play that game 10 times we win 2 or 3.
Was that before you saw Berhalter/the players inability to deal with a game plan designed to stop what had been successful for us? I sure missed that and looking back don't think we had much of a chance at all...maybe in the universe where CP scores early and we hang on. But even in that world I don't trust GGG/the players to hang on for 85 minutes against LVG and the Dutch.
 

InstaFace

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Was that before you saw Berhalter/the players inability to deal with a game plan designed to stop what had been successful for us? I sure missed that and looking back don't think we had much of a chance at all...maybe in the universe where CP scores early and we hang on. But even in that world I don't trust GGG/the players to hang on for 85 minutes against LVG and the Dutch.
Yeah a lot has to do with the relative chances created. Look, say what you will about the relative tactics and how well-drilled both sides looked... basically all of the xG models had the match very close in terms of total chance quality created, and at least one I saw (@ The XG Philosophy on twitter) had us narrowly ahead. This was nothing like USA-Belgium 2014, we were not under siege, we were not powerless, and we were not hanging our entire hopes on getting and converting That One Chance. Yeah, Pulisic had a high-percentage one early and that colors our perceptions, but we had plenty of good threats throughout the game. It would not have been that unlikely an event for us to end up converting more than the Dutch, or converting the same and then winning a shootout. Now, if we run that game 10 times, do we end up creating "basically the same amount of xG" in every game? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe in some of those dice rolls, Dest doesn't try to do too much (he coughed up possession awkwardly a few times), but instead ends up cooking Blind rather than the other way round. Maybe Ferreira wakes up on the right side of the bed. McKennie wins a few headers during a knock-around in the attacking third. It's not outlandish to think we end up getting quality chances most of the time, and some of the time we convert a few - maybe the same as the Dutch. The oranje wouldn't be able to count on guys falling asleep on a cutback pass THREE TIMES IN ONE GAME, either, y'know. Look at it from that way, and the Dutch got tremendously fortunate to benefit from some crucial errors by one of the best-performing defenses in the tournament, and then converted basically all of them. Should they be favored? Yeah. Do I think they win more than 4 out of 5 matches? Nah, I think we get 'em about that much or maybe a little more.

And again, this is mostly in comparison to us hypothetically playing Argentina. The day we out-xG a first-choice Argentina squad in a game that matters is a day I hope someone is nearby with a defibrillator, because I will absolutely keel over in pure shock. The Dutch, though - I don't think we're that far away from being on a level playing field with them.
 

Zososoxfan

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Kicking off tomorrow--

10 am: Croatia/Brazil--Man, Brazil just seems like a machine right now and they are big favorites here (-275 to win, -650 to advance). I can't see Croatia keeping up with Neymar, Richarlison, Pedro, Vinicius, etc. The 10 best odds for first goal in this game are all Brazilian players. So, literally every field player for Brazil has a better chance of opening the scoring than any Croatian. Might be a lot more samba--Brazil 4-1.

2 pm: Netherlands/Argentina--I'm already wondering how many times during this match I will watch Netherlands fire a ball over the net or miss out on the cutback pass and mutter "Sure, now that happens". This should be a fun game, with Messi a slight favorite (+125, -160). I'm on Team Messi here all the way, but I'm not sure I'm confident enough on that to put any of my money on it. Gonna call it 1-1, with Argentina advancing in PKs.
See, I look at those odds and think that Croatia shouldn't be such a dog in this game. This team isn't nearly as good as the iteration that made the finals last go around, but they're still very solid at almost every spot and have some world class players in Modric, Kovacic, Gvardiol, and Brozovic. The issue for them is the lack of quality up front (Perisic is very good, and his skillset is suited better for Int'l than club, but still) and in the back (besides Gvardiol). But this is a seasoned side and they will make this game as ugly as the ref will allow. It's Michael Oliver, so we'll see. Modric is still an absolute game changer and I've made my skepticism of Brazil's defense very plain. I wouldn't bet Croatia hard, but $20 to win ~$100? I don't hate it.


I gave us a 30% chance to advance over Netherlands. I still think if we play that game 10 times we win 2 or 3.

I would give us <10% against Argentina. Totally different class of team, with them even more focused and motivated than when they clowned us in the Copa America in 2016. And as the game draws on, Argentina's advantage in depth (for subs) should prove out. The Dutch have a terrific starting lineup, and aren't as shallow as the USA was, but they are not nearly as deep as an Argentina / Brazil / France level squad.

And yeah, every neutral should be pulling for Brazil-Argentina semifinal. Max Bretos was saying on his episode from yesterday that it's been a long long time since we've seen that matchup matter at the world cup, and it was epic last time around. They play each other basically every Copa America, and they play WCQ together, and they always want to beat the other really badly... but this is the first time in a long time that it's life-or-death to both sides.
You mean since last July?
 

InstaFace

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Yeah, I'm not sure the Copa America is quite the prize that either side lusts for. I realize Messi hadn't won it, but honestly the stakes felt low. Maybe that's just my outside opinion and it was a huge fucking deal to both sides, but they'd met for that title plenty of times, right?

Whereas, only a few times in the World Cup. 1974 group stage (BRA 2-1), 1978 group stage scoreless draw, 1982 second group stage (Brazil romp), 1990 R16 (ARG 1-0 on a Maradona assist), and not in the 32 years since then. I dunno, feels a lot more special. Maybe it's only a little more special.
 

Zososoxfan

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Di Maria and De Paul trained today, so all of my previous lineup discussion is likely moot. Papu Gomez is certainly out though. It does seem like Scaloni wants to protect against Dumfries though, as Tagliafico has been getting the XI bib over Acuna. I'm an Acuna stan for sure, but I don't hate this. Acuna can also be a terrific sub to bring on against tired legs. He's also sitting on a YC, so if gamescript allows, you minimize the chances he misses a semifinal. Scaloni also seems likely to start Montiel over Molina, which cracks me up to no end because of my back-and-forth with @bosox4283 . While Paredes is fit, I'm not seeing any indication he will start. I'm a bit surprised by this, because Scaloni is repping the back 3, but the MF is the same in both setups. The difference is in FB/WB selection, and Di Maria vs. Lisandro:

4-3-3
Alvarez-Messi-ADM
Mac-Enzo-RDP
Tagliafico-Otamendi-Romero-Montiel
Emi

3-5-2
Messi-Álvarez
Acuna-Enzo-De Paul-Mac Allister-Molina
Lisandro-Otamendi-Romero
Emi

Honestly, tough call between these. The back 3 ensures good width, but not necessarily quality. Di Maria is the only wing player trusted to create. Argentina can definitely work the wings and try to hit the cut back cross, but none of the FBs are particularly skilled dribblers. Acuna is the best of the 3, and Molina is probably the best passer in the attacking third. My only concern with that strategy is that tons of crossing can set off counters, and the Dutch strides against the Argentine shuffles would be no bueno. The 4-3-3 keeps everything comfortable, and gets Di Maria on the field. Tagliafico is probably the right choice to start although he hasn't looked very confident so far. It also keeps Acuna's likelihood of picking up a YC lower. I expect we'll see the 4-3-3 to start, but that also depends on the confidence in Di Maria's fitness.
 

Zososoxfan

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Yeah, I'm not sure the Copa America is quite the prize that either side lusts for. I realize Messi hadn't won it, but honestly the stakes felt low. Maybe that's just my outside opinion and it was a huge fucking deal to both sides, but they'd met for that title plenty of times, right?

Whereas, only a few times in the World Cup. 1974 group stage (BRA 2-1), 1978 group stage scoreless draw, 1982 second group stage (Brazil romp), 1990 R16 (ARG 1-0 on a Maradona assist), and not in the 32 years since then. I dunno, feels a lot more special. Maybe it's only a little more special.
I dunno, it was definitely a HUGE deal in Argentina--they had lost in the finals in 4 of the last 6 iterations (at one point it was 4 of the last 5), and hadn't won it since '93. In Brazil, it was at least a big deal that a lot of the press were coming out rooting for Messi, and Neymar (rightly) called them out on it. I bet @BrazilianSoxFan and @ypioca (?) as our resident Brazilians thought the stakes in a Int'l Cup final were high. As high as a WC semi? No, but still quite effing high.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

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I dunno, it was definitely a HUGE deal in Argentina--they had lost in the finals in 4 of the last 6 iterations (at one point it was 4 of the last 5), and hadn't won it since '93. In Brazil, it was at least a big deal that a lot of the press were coming out rooting for Messi, and Neymar (rightly) called them out on it. I bet @BrazilianSoxFan and @ypioca (?) as our resident Brazilians thought the stakes in a Int'l Cup final were high. As high as a WC semi? No, but still quite effing high.
It wasn't that big of a deal here, at least in my part of the country. Maybe @ypioca can say if it was different on his. It sucked to lose to Argentina, but that was it. The fact that the press was rooting for Messi to finally get one, shows how so not into it we where. It didn't matter too much.

To be honest, with the team we have right now, the expectation was that we should win anything regional, so losing Copa America was kinda of a bummer, but casuals probably didn't even know there was a competition happening. It's nowhere close to a World Cup semi-final, where everything is gonna be closed hours before the game.

It's part of why Brazil tried so hard to get into the Nations League. The lack of friendlies with European sides left us without a true test of where our abilities lie.
 

ypioca

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I'd agree with BSF that it wasn't really a huge deal here. I mean, to the point @Zososoxfan mentioned, the fact that, even in defeat, people here were kinda happy for Messi finally winning a big tournament says everything - if we meet in the semifinal now, there won't be any bittersweet sentiment like that. We will want to see his tears.

It definitely meant more to them, akin to the Brazil Rio 2016 Olympics gold medal win, which no other nation gives a single shit about, but was the last major tournament Brazil had never won. They even brought Neymar as one of the three non-U23s, just to stack the deck.
 

Zososoxfan

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Out of curiosity, I looked up alltime team stats. Argentina and Uruguay have each won 15x, Brazil 9x, Paraguay, Chile, and Peru 2x, and Bolivia and Colombia 1x. Paraguay winning 2x, Bolivia winning 1x, Colombia only winning 1x, and Brazil trailing Argentina and Uruguay surprised me.
 

rodderick

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I'll defer to @BrazilianSoxFan, @rodderick, & @ypioca, but my understanding, being approximately ~4600km northwest from Uiramutã, Roraima, Brazil, is that the Seleção have not taken this competition as seriously as other nations have throughout history.

https://www.goal.com/en-ke/news/why-the-copa-america-has-not-always-been-a-priority-for/blt363845141fc265f8
Your feelings are correct. Not to sound like an asshole, but for most other South American national teams Copa America is their biggest chance at winning a trophy and Brazil has such a history of World Cup success that we don't really care much for it, the standard is different. Even the Confederations Cup is generally more valued here. I'd wager Argentinians only made such a big deal of their recent title due to their drought, and will now approach it in a similar way as we do.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Croatia playing much better than their previous games. Seem to have forced Brazil to play a lot of route 1 football, funny to see a Brazilian team hoof it upfield so much
 

Kliq

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Croatia's midfield is so good they aren't going to get bossed out of a game by anyone. The problem for Croatia and that with Mandzukic retired, they don't have a good CF to create real danger in the box. It's strange that they don't have a 6'3" lampost to get on the end of some of these chances.
 

Zososoxfan

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I felt like Croatia had the better chances that half, and they will rue that they didn't test Allison. Especially Perisic on the doorstep. Brazil do need to figure out a plan of attack, and personally, I think the key is to stop funneling thru Neymar so much, and let Vini/Raphinha try to cook. I've never thought that much of Paqueta and today is not doing anything to dispel that notion. All that said, I think Brazil start to figure it out in this half.
 

rodderick

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Brazil completely overrun in midfield, as anyone with a brain could have predicted with this formation. They simply don't have the bodies there with this Casemiro/Paquetá pairing. Neymar is playing more like a shadow striker than the playmaking attacking midfielder he has become in the latter part of his career.

This might be good enough against fragile opponents and will likely work if you score early and force the opponent to open up, but Modric/Brozovic/Kovacic is a respectable trio and Brazil pretty much has had no buildup as a consequence. It's so strange, Brazil played with a midfield three for pretty much the entirety of Tite's tenure, it's like he doesn't want to be accused of leaving a talent on the bench or of being a "coward" in the event of an elimination. Just plug Fred/Guimarães in.
 

67YAZ

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Brazil completely overrun in midfield, as anyone with a brain could have predicted with this formation. They simply don't have the bodies there with this Casemiro/Paquetá pairing. Neymar is playing more like a shadow striker than the playmaking attacking midfielder he has become in the latter part of his career.
He could never return home again if it didn’t work out, but I’d yank Neymar for Bruno G at halftime. Look at this chart - Militao can’t be your most effective passer to win this match. Neymar is getting a lot good service, but not creating for others. And Richarlison is on an island - they need to play off him in his withdrawn role.

 

Jed Zeppelin

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I would have loathed a PK in that situation. Not in the spirit of what a handball is meant to police, imo, but I know the current rules attempt to make this an objective call while my view is certainly more on the subjective side.
 

biff_hardbody

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Croatia is such a tough out.

I don't think Neymar dribbling through 3 defenders is Brazil's best offensive option.
 

OCST

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Croatian keeper is standing on his head. Furious onslaught for several minutes there. Didn't think Croatia could withstand it for much longer, but Croatia now slowing it down with some good possession play.
 

Ale Xander

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Brazil, a country rich in natural resources, will soon be exporting diamonds too
 

67YAZ

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Vini was crowded out by Neymar on the left. The formation just doesn’t work against this veteran Croatian side
 

OCST

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Vini was crowded out by Neymar on the left. The formation just doesn’t work against this veteran Croatian side
Yeah. For all of Brazil's good attempts on goal, they don't have good link up play, runners into the box etc, these shots are all one-and-done and the Croatian defenders are making interventions.

They're still being bailed out by their keeper but Croatia is putting some limits on what Brazil can do.