Netherlands v USA
The USA delivered when the pressure was on against Iran, but they’ve only once gone beyond the round of 16 since a semi-final appearance in 1930, as they reached the quarters in 2002. The Netherlands may have failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018, but they’ve since impressed in qualifiers and Nations League campaigns as they tread a path back to the top.
There’s no denying that Louis van Gaal has the better squad at his disposal, while the former Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern and Man Utd manager previously led the Netherlands to a third place finish at the 2014 World Cup. The Orange are now unbeaten in 18 matches under van Gaal during his current time at the helm, winning 13 of these, with nine of the victories coming by a minimum two-goal margin.
After keeping just four clean sheets from his first 13 games in charge, van Gaal has since seen his charges concede just once in five appearances. They’ve shut out Poland, Belgium, Senegal and Qatar (all by 1-0 or 2-0 scorelines), as only Ecuador (1-1) were able to register past them. The paucity of chances conceded is sure to serve them well here, especially when considering the limited firepower the USA has to offer.
Although the USA were unfortunate not to register against England, they’ve nonetheless failed to impress too much at the sharp end, with both Wales and Iran there for the taking. Fortunately, star man Christian Pulisic is expected to recover in time for this game, despite having required a trip to hospital, as is Josh Sargent, with the two attackers replaced following injuries last time out.
Still, there have been fewer than three goals in 14 of the USA’s past 18 games, including each of the last six, so this game shouldn’t contain too many fireworks. At least one team has failed to score in 13 of their past 16 games, while 11 of the USA’s past 12 defeats since November 2018 have seen them fail to score (1-0 x4, 2-0 x4 and 3-0 x3).
NETHERLANDS TO WIN TO NIL
Argentina v Australia
After Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, Leo Messi and company rallied together and produced the results that we expected of La Albiceleste, winning their next two games without conceding a goal. Messi has obviously been the key man in this Argentina side but he went into the history books after missing another penalty against Poland, as with that miss he became the first player to miss two penalties in the same World Cup (excluding shoot-outs).
It was a tense final day of Group D where Australia needed to win in order to guarantee a spot in the next round. The Socceroo’s went 1-0 up in the second half thanks to a goal from Mathew Leckie, but in the other game Tunisia had also found a way to get themselves a goal up. That meant if Denmark could put themselves on the scoresheet, Australia were out on goal difference, but they pulled through in the end and got a much-deserved spot in the last 16, even if this is probably the end of the road for the Socceroos.
Of the 64 Round of 16 matches that have been played since 1990, only 35.94% have gone over 2.5 goals which is definitely something to keep an eye on for these matches. This number is very similar if we just include the last three World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018) with 37.50% (9 of 24) reaching over 2.5 goals.
This game for Australia is momentous. They’ve only got out of the group stages once before and ended up drawing Italy, who rather luckily beat them 1-0 thanks to a penalty in the 95th minute. Since 1990, they’ve lost all three games played against teams from South America and only scored one goal across these matches (Brazil 2-0 in 2006, Chile 3-1 in 2014 and 2-0 against Peru in 2018).
ARGENTINA TO WIN AND UNDER 3.5 GOALS
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