Croatia and Brazil kick off FIFA World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar
At 4 pm Belgian time, vice-world champions Croatia and Brazil will kick off the quarter-finals of the Qatar World Cup.
Brazil, one of the tournament's favourites, beat South Korea with ease in the Round of 16. After just 36 minutes the South Americans were up 4-0. But on Friday the Brazilians will meet a tougher opponent. The runner-ups of the 2018 World Cup qualified for the playoffs after a goalless tie against Belgium. Afterwards they knocked out Japan.
Later that day, at 8 pm, the Netherlands and Argentina will clash. The Netherlands and Argentina have met several times in the past. The South American squad beat the Dutch in both the 1978 World Cup final and the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
The Netherlands started strong in the group stage and finished off the United States with a 3-1 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Argentina started the tournament with a painful 1-2 loss against Saudi Arabia. Messi's squad recovered with three wins in a row against Mexico, Poland (both 2-0) and Australia (2-1).
On Saturday, the two remaining quarter-finals will take place. Portugal will take on Morocco, the sensation of this year's World Cup. The Portuguese swept Switzerland 6-1 in the Round of 16 and start as favourites. But Morocco has proven that it should not be underestimated. The Lions of the Atlas kept Croatia in check in the group stage, then beat Belgium and Canada. In the Round of 16 they stunned Spain by winning a penalty shootout.
The headliner of the quarter-finals is scheduled later that day, with England facing off against France. The finalist of the last European Championship and the reigning world champion have never met in the knockout stages of a major tournament. Both teams are in great form, each scoring three goals in the Round of 16.
© BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR