Opinion: World Cup predictions and reactions

Aiden Lu, Staff Writer

After the insane group stage of the 2022 World Cup, the round of 16 was a bit of a letdown. Only two teams projected to lose, Japan and Morocco, put up a fight, and only Morocco made it through to the round of 8. Hopefully the quarterfinals bring back the excitement.

Quarterfinals Matchup 1: Netherlands vs. Argentina

Pre-game prediction: Argentina

While the Netherlands team is quite strong, ranked 8th worldwide, the Argentina team is still the favorite, ranked 3rd worldwide after a 2021 Copa América win. Besides an embarrassing loss to Saudi Arabia, neither team has been meaningfully challenged. The game should be competitive, but I expect Argentina to come out on top.

Winner: Argentina

Possession was roughly equivalent, but Argentina was able to generate many more chances throughout the match. Still, Netherlands managed to hang on with a miracle free kick-generated goal on the last play of the game. They managed to stay competitive until PKs, but Emiliano Martinez pulled off two amazing saves, winning the game for Argentina.

Quarterfinals Matchup 2: Croatia vs. Brazil

Pre-game prediction: Brazil

I’m rooting for Croatia, but realistically Brazil should have this one. Brazil is deservedly ranked as the best team in the world right now. Croatia is the heavy underdog; I’ll be rooting for them, but I am pessimistic about their chances.

Winner: Croatia

Brazil had 11 shots on goal. They only made one. Croatia had just one shot on goal in the 117th minute (!), and they made it. Croatia then wins in the penalty shootout. The Croatian goalkeeper, Dominik Livaković, made so many incredible saves throughout the match and the penalty shootout. Croatia moves on!

Quarterfinals Matchup 3: England vs. France

Pre-game prediction: France

I may be underrating the English team, but I think France wins this match handily. Disclaimer: neither team has faced a similarly skilled opponent yet, so this is largely based on conjecture. I believe that France’s incredible offensive/midfield weapons will overrun the English defense, and France’s defense will hold on against the English attack.

Winner: France

Much closer than I expected – a heartbreaker for England. Harry Kane missing a penalty kick is a tragic way to fall out of the World Cup. Contrary to what I thought was going to happen, England created more chances throughout the game – it’s just that France was able to finish better. The back-to-back championship dream lives on.

Quarterfinals Matchup 4: Morocco vs. Portugal

Pre-game prediction: Portugal

Although Morocco has just come off of a win against Spain, I think their Cinderella run stops here. Christiano Ronaldo throwing a hissy fit isn’t going to change the most likely outcome of the match.

Winner: Morocco

I was wrong – Cinderella lives on. Morocco’s defense has been top notch; this World Cup, they have yet to let in a goal that isn’t an own goal. They may not be the most technically skilled team, but their effort and raw physical ability has carried them into the semifinals. Portugal created a lot of chances, but they just couldn’t finish it.

Two for four on quarterfinals predictions, but I doubt anyone expected these matches to go as they did. I couldn’t be happier with the quarterfinals. Four close games, each competitive until the final whistle blew.

Semifinals Matchup 1: Argentina vs. Croatia

Pre-game prediction: Argentina

This is probably biased because of how much I like Messi, even if Argentina is higher ranked than Croatia. Seeing as Croatia beat Brazil, it’s definitely possible for them to pull off the upset again. Still, I’m betting on Argentina.

Winner: Argentina

As expected, but I didn’t expect it to be this much of a slaughter. Croatia had 60% possession yet only two shots on goal. The Argentinian offense was too strong offensively for the Croatian defense, and for all of Modrić’s heroics, he couldn’t find a way through. Regardless, the Croatian team has overperformed at yet another World Cup, even if they fell short of the trophy.

Semifinals Matchup 2: France vs. Morocco

Pre-game prediction: France

After two incredible upsets by Morocco, this match seems heavily lopsided. I’m hoping for a miracle Morocco win, but it’s more than likely France will return to the finals for a chance at back-to-back World Cup championships.

Winner: France

The match was kind of similar to the other semifinals match. Morocco, like Croatia, had possession for the majority of the match, but France, like Argentina, capitalized on their chances much more effectively. Morocco’s chances at goal, while present, were not as big as the ones France created. Even so, Morocco should be incredibly proud of how far they got though.

Two for two on semifinals predictions. The better teams deservedly won their matches. Unfortunately, the losing teams weren’t able to put up a fight, and the matches were not particularly close. Looking forward though, two juggernauts of world soccer are going to face off.

Finals: Argentina vs. France

Pre-game prediction: France

This one is the closest of all the matches so far. Argentina and France are arguably the two best teams in the world. Messi’s last dance vs. France’s potential back-to-back championships. I expect an incredibly close match, but I believe France is still the best team man to man.

Winner: Argentina

Insanity. Best World Cup match of all time. Congratulations to Argentina.