We are finally here — the Round of 16 at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Two knockout matches are scheduled for Saturday – December 3, 2022 – the 14th day of the tournament.
- Netherlands vs USA (Khalifa International Stadium, 6pm/15:00 GMT)
- Argentina vs Australia (Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, 10pm/19:00 GMT)
Netherlands vs USA
All eyes are on injured USA attacker Christian Pulisic – the most expensive player in North American history – and whether he will stage a knockout-round comeback on Saturday following a tumble at the net in his daring, game-winning, goal against Iran that secured his team’s place in the last 16.
It is unclear if Pulisic, who sustained a pelvic contusion, will start against the Dutch, who edged Senegal to clinch Group A. The Chelsea winger’s absence would be a critical setback to the US lineup, the youngest team on average in Qatar, who have not advanced beyond the quarter-finals in 90 years.
“I’m taking it day-by-day for now and I will do everything in my power to work with this medical team and make sure I can play,” Pulisic, 24, said at training camp with the US squad on Thursday.
Argentina vs Australia
Argentina, rebounding from an opening defeat against Saudi Arabia and having jetted past Mexico and Poland to top Group C, are heavily favoured against Australia. The Argentinians are ranked 35 points ahead of the Socceroos.
Notably, captain Lionel Messi’s career hangs in the balance on Saturday. For Messi, who has netted two goals in Qatar but has yet to win a World Cup, Saturday’s match could be his last World Cup game if Argentina tanks, spelling the end of an illustrious career.
Argentina winger Angel Di Maria, who was taken off the field during Argentina’s win over Poland, will likely start but it is not yet confirmed.
“We will break our backs on this pitch to compete, we know how difficult this World Cup is, this is football,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said on Friday.