The first knockout game in the Qatar FIFA World Cup will be played between Group A winners Netherlands, and Group B runners-up USA at the Khalifa International Stadium. The Netherlands won their first game against Senegal 2-0, scoring twice late on in the game. They also drew against Ecuador 1-1 and finished off with another victory over Qatar. The USA registered two consecutive draws against Wales and England, respectively, and won 1-0 against Iran to seal their place in the knockout stages.
Looking at the FIFA rankings, the USA are in 16th place, whilst the Netherlands are in eighth place. This will be the first time that these two countries are going to meet in a FIFA World Cup game, as the only time they played against each other was in international friendlies.
Group A winners and hoping to make it further into the competition, the Netherlands line up against the USA. In their group games, the Oranje have only conceded one goal, whilst at the other end of the pitch, Cody Gakpo has been in the form of his life, scoring in each game he played in. The young forward has been linked with a move away from his current club PSV, and he might be getting more interest after the tournament ends.
Against the USA, the Netherlands need to be comfortable in possession as the USA has made it a habit of pressing high and forcing the turnover of possession higher up the pitch. The trio of Jurrien Timber, Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake are looking like a solid partnership giving the midfielders license to motor forward and cause havoc.
The USMNT have qualified to face the Netherlands in the round of 16 after beating Iran 1-0 on the final day of group stage games. Looking at the results that they’ve got in the group, one could say that the results do not necessarily reflect how the game actually went. Against Wales, they were the better team in the first half but failed to capitalise on key moments, leaving the door open for a comeback. Against England, neither team deserved to win, but the USMNT had better chances during the game.
The only drawback is that the players do not have experience at this stage, and they are going up against a team that is accustomed to playing under pressure. The key area where they need to get a hold of is the midfield and feed the wide areas so they can put pressure on the wing backs. Both teams will have a chance of making it to the quarter-finals should they come out on top so that is great motivation for the players.
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