The knockout phase of the 2022 FIFA World Cup gets underway on Dec. 3 with the first two Round of 16 matches pitting the Netherlands against the USA and Argentina against Australia.
The Dutch advanced out of Group A in top spot with a pair of 2-0 wins over Senegal and Qatar, respectively, while also drawing 1-1 with Ecuador. The Americans emerged in second from Group B with a pair of draws – 1-1 vs Wales and 0-0 vs England – before defeating Iran 1-0 in their final outing.
Argentina responded to that shocking 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in its Group C opening match by beating Mexico and Poland in its next two, both by 2-0 scorelines. Australia similarly rebounded from a stinging defeat in its first match, falling 4-1 to France, with a pair of dramatic 1-0 wins over Tunisia and Denmark to emerge from Group D.
Here are the match day odds courtesy of bet365:
|Netherlands vs. USA||Netherlands (-110), Draw (+230), USA (+333)|
|Argentina vs. Australia||Argentina (-500), Draw (+550), Australia (+1400)|
Netherlands vs. USA betting preview
|Netherlands vs. USA||Netherlands (-110), Draw (+230), USA (+333)|
|Total Goals||Over 2.5 (+130), Under 2.5 (-163)|
|Bet Boost Same Game Parlay: Cody Gakpo to Score Anytime, Match Result Netherlands, Both Teams to Score||(+1600)|
Netherlands wins if: It can find another gear.
Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side has enjoyed a pretty calm World Cup so far.
It outlasted Senegal in its opener, scoring twice in the latter stages to seal victory, scored early against Ecuador in its second match, and needed just 26 minutes in its final group stage outing against Qatar to take a lead en route to securing the top spot in Group A.
Even with top striker Memphis Depay still nursing an injury – he featured off the bench in the first two matches before starting against Qatar – the Netherlands has not really been tested or even been put under significant pressure. It hasn’t trailed once through three matches and aside from the medium danger of a second half against Ecuador with the game at 1-1, there was never even a cause for concern.
But how will the Dutch respond as the tournament shifts into the knockout phase and the pressure builds?
USA wins if: Gregg Berhalter’s game model works once more.
The continued absence of Borussia Dortmund star Giovanni Reyna, never mind the behind-the-scenes ramblings and hand-wringing, is perhaps the best example of this American side opting for function over form.
This is a side that looks to apply a stranglehold to proceedings and from that position wrestle an advantage. That strategy nearly paid off against Wales, where Timothy Weah’s goal had the U.S. in front, only for a rash tackle in the box to give the Welsh a chance to rescue a point. Against England, the U.S. took care of making the game difficult for the opponents and managed to craft the better chances in a scoreless affair. The same against Iran – limiting chances at one end and making the most of one good one at the other.
The Netherlands has been patient too, and its technical ability is as good as any side the U.S. has faced thus far, but if the Americans can dominate the middle of the park once more they could advance to the quarterfinals.
Bettors will also want to monitor the health of “Captain America” leading up to the match. Christian Pulisic suffered a pelvic contusion in USA’s dramatic victory over Iran, but he’s expected to play against the Netherlands. Berhalter said Pulisic will train with the team on Friday and will then be re-evaluated.
Mismatch to watch: Capitalizing on chances.
Through three matches apiece both teams have only conceded once: the U.S. from a penalty kick and the Netherlands on a rebound from close range. If both play to form, chances and goals will be few and far between.
The Dutch have an advantage over the Americans both in goals scored (five to two) and in their ability to maximize their chances.
The Netherlands needed eight shots on target to score those five goals, the USA needed seven to score twice. Both have a similar number of shots through three matches (Netherlands: 25, USA: 28), so making the most of those opportunities when they arise will be vital.
Prop to watch: Bet Boost Same Game Parlay: Cody Gakpo to Score Anytime, Match result Netherlands, Both Teams to Score – Yes +1600
Gakpo, the breakout star of the tournament so far, had three goals in the group stage. The 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven winger scored in all three group stage matches and has been linked to several massive clubs following his performances.
Add him netting once more to the Netherlands, the favourites winning, and the USA finding a goal, and that is a tidy parlay.
Argentina vs. Australia betting preview
|Argentina vs Australia||Argentina (-500), Draw (+550), Australia (+1400)|
|Total Goals||Over 2.5 (-125), Under 2.5 (+100)|
|Argentina To Win/Both Teams To Score||Yes (+275)|
Argentina wins if: It takes care of business.
The stunning defeat against Saudi Arabia aside, it was a pretty standard group stage for Argentina.
Argentina’s 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland were not without difficulty, but it’s just been a matter of playing its game, knowing that chances will come, and being tough to score against. Even a saved penalty from Lionel Messi against Poland couldn’t knock Argentina off track.
The loss to the Saudis was perhaps a warning shot – Argentina did not make the most of first half chances and were made to rue that factor. The Argentines were outcompeted after half-time and could not respond when stunned by two quick goals at the start of the half.
Australia has had a knack for landing knockout blows in Qatar, so Argentina will need to put this one away when it has the chance.
Australia wins if: It can craft another magic moment.
This Socceroo side was considered perhaps the weakest to represent the nation in some time and was not expected to achieve much in Qatar. The big defeat at the hands of France, one of the tournament favourites, in the opening match could have proved that assumption right, but Graham Arnold and his side have forged that dismissiveness into a weapon.
Mitch Duke’s 28th-minute header against Tunisia and Mathew Leckie’s 60th-minute solo effort against Denmark, as well as some solid defensive performances, were enough to collect six points and move on to the knockout phase.
Being the underdog can be a weapon – one that Saudi Arabia showed Argentina is susceptible to.
Mismatch to watch: All of them.
The betting line for this one is heavily skewed in Argentina’s favour and for good reason.
Nearly every attacking category has the South Americans better off than the Aussies. A few of note: Possession (Argentina 66.7% to 37%); shots (Argentina 41 to 21); shots on target (Argentina 17 to 7); goals scored (Argentina five to three), expected goals (Argentina 6 to 1.7), and perhaps most tellingly touches in the opponent’s box (Argentina 74, the fourth-most in Qatar to 32 for Australia, the eighth-lowest in the tournament).
But Australia doesn’t want the ball. It has done a better job of converting chances into goals, and is happy to defend for large stretches of the match, waiting for chances to spring forward.
And all those figures are subordinate to the supreme one: the final score.
Prop to watch: Result/Both Teams to Score: Yes +275
With Argentina so heavily favoured it can be hard to find value in a match like this. The long shot of a shock Australia win or advancing to the next stage is tempting, but the odds are long for a reason.
While Argentina has clean sheets in its last two wins and has conceded just twice in Qatar, both of those goals came from very low possibility chances. Australia has thrived on those at this World Cup. If Argentina gives the Aussies even the slightest half-chance, Australia could very well score again, even if it’s ultimately in defeat.