World Cup 2022: Odds and Predictions for Saturday Quarterfinal Matches
The rest of the World Cup semifinals field will be filled out on Saturday.
Portugal and Morocco kick off the two-game slate with the quintessential underdog story in play.
Morocco topped a group with semifinalists Croatia and Belgium and beat Spain in the round of 16.
The Atlas Lions possess a tough defense that could be hard to break down for Portugal, who may be better off achieving attacking success without Cristiano Ronaldo.
England and France will then square off in the marquee matchup of the knockout round.
France is looking to defend its World Cup title, while England is searching for an international title that has eluded it since the 1966 World Cup.
The winners of Saturday's games face each other in Wednesday's semifinal. Croatia and Argentina will square off on Tuesday in the first semifinal.
Morocco vs. Portugal
90-Minute Money Line
Morocco (+475; bet $100 to win $475)
Portugal (-140; bet $140 to win $100)
To Advance to Next Round
Morocco and Portugal are each coming off their best performances in Qatar.
Morocco produced a remarkable defensive effort against Spain and did not concede a goal over 120 minutes. The African side won the match on penalties.
Portugal scored six goals against South Korea. Most of its attacking success came without Cristiano Ronaldo on the field.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos has to decide for Saturday's match if keeping Ronaldo on the bench is once again the right thing.
Bruno Fernandes and João Félix can break down the defensive lines with their passing and runs from deeper positions. Striker Gonçalo Ramos is flying high after his three-goal, one-assist outing in the round of 16.
Portugal will be dealing with a tougher defense in Morocco than it dealt with against South Korea in the last round. That may lead to Ronaldo playing a larger role than he did Tuesday.
Ronaldo may be best suited to come off the bench with fresh legs so that Portugal can win the game late and avoid penalties.
Portugal could have the game wrapped before Ronaldo's potential entry if Fernandes and Félix are on their games.
Morocco's defense is strong, but it played some flawed attacks to reach this point of the tournament.
Morocco conceded once on an own goal and held three clean sheets, but its last three opponents had an expected goals total over one.
Conversely, the Moroccan attack has had three games with an xG of 0.7 or below.
Morocco is not equipped to win a high-scoring game, and that could be its downfall if the round-of-16 version of Portugal shows up on Saturday.
Prediction: Portugal 3, Morocco 0
England vs. France
90-Minute Money Line
To Advance to Next Round
England vs. France is by far the most even knockout-round game yet in Qatar.
England was a 2018 World Cup semifinalist and UEFA Euro 2020 runner-up. France is the reigning World Cup champion with one of the top players in the world on its side in Kylian Mbappé.
Mbappé, who leads the Golden Boot race, will be the primary focus of England's defense.
What makes the French attack so dangerous is that it can thrive without Mbappé. Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé can all wreak havoc on their own.
Griezmann and Dembélé, specifically, may have to do more work in the channels of the England defense to break the game open and force the Three Lions to individually defend Mbappé.
England's defense comes into Saturday with three straight xGA concessions of 0.8 or lower. Those three totals came against the United States, Wales and Senegal, all of whom failed to create many significant chances on their own.
France brings a new challenge in the form of an attack that scored nine times and had an xG of 1.4 or above in the three games its first team started in Qatar.
England has a deep attack as well, led by Harry Kane, which makes the individual matchups so fascinating.
England scored nine group-stage goals without Kane finding the net. The 2018 Golden Boot winner opened his account for the 2022 tournament in the round of 16.
France's defense has conceded exactly one goal in three of its four games at the World Cup. That could allow England to pounce at least once in 90 or 120 minutes.
Les Bleus likely will not be held down, either, so we could see a tied game, or at least a close one, late in the contest.
France holds the edge in World Cup-winning experience, and that could be the slightest of edges that allows it to sneak past England and land a semifinal spot.
Prediction: France 2, England 1 (added extra time)
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