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6 from things we learnt from the World Cup first knockout stage 

An eventful Round of 16 at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar left us with the usual suspects, plus one unexpected name in the form of Morocco. Here are six things we learnt following the conclusion of the Round of 16. 

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download Cristiano Ronaldo’s career at the highest level just might be over already 

No one could have expected just how comprehensively Portugal defeated Switzerland. The Swiss are the sort of tournament team to frustrate and win tight matches, but this time they were given a paddling. A bet on Portugal to win outright and over 4.5 total goals would have fetched a proper windfall. 

World Cup 2022: Of course it's Cristiano Ronaldo's goal for Portugal in Qatar – The Warm-Up - Eurosport

The biggest storyline to emerge from the match, however, was the performance of striker Goncalo Ramos, who became the first player at the 2022 World Cup to score a hattrick. That he did it while filling the shoes of Cristiano Ronaldo in attack was even more significant: not only had the Portugal captain failed to score a goal from open play in the tournament so far, he has also never scored a goal in the knockout round of the World Cup before. 

Not only did Portugal go into a scoring frenzy, but without Ronaldo they looked a lot more fluid and dynamic. It was a performance that confirmed all of the problems that have been pointed out about the 37-year-old.  

At club level with Manchester United, he alleged victimization and a lack of respect, but on the international stage, he has no such hiding place. It may be time to accept the truth: Ronaldo’s days as a match winner at the highest levels might be over. 

Bet on Portugal to defeat Morocco in their quarterfinal showdown tomorrow @ 1.70 

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download Alisson is the best goalkeeper in the world 

Alisson reveals the reason for his World Cup moustache - "Speak up, people!" - Liverpool FC - This Is Anfield

There was hardly occasion for it to shine during the World Cup group stage as Brazil barely faced any shots. However, come the Round of 16, Alisson’s performance in goal confirmed what many knew, Liverpool’s no.1 is the best shot-stopper in world football. 

It may seem like a strange takeaway from a game that Brazil won 4-1. If it is, then it is likely you were not paying attention to proceedings on the pitch. Because, while the Koreans did not always get close, when they did, they met an immovable Alisson in goal for the Selecao. 

On several occasions, the 30-year-old foiled any Korean attempts to level the score, bailing out an already excellent defence with some crucial saves. He was eventually beaten, but only a thunderbolt from long range that was close to unsaveable. 

There have been a number of outstanding goalkeepers in the FIFA World Cup, from Wojciech Szczesny to Mohamed Al-Owais. However, for his one-on-one prowess, his distribution and his shot-stopping, Alisson stands heads and shoulders above the rest.  

Bet on Alisson to win the World Cup Golden Glove @ 2.85 

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download If France retain the World Cup, Kylian Mbappe will win the Ballon D’Or 

Kylian Mbappe scores four as reigning World Cup champions France qualify for 2022 in Qatar | CNN

There is now almost no doubt that Kylian Mbappe will finish as the highest goal scorer at this World Cup. Already, he has notched five goals, and if you has picked him for the Golden Boot on BetKing before the tournament began, you would be smiling to the bank. As is, the odds have reduced to a still decent 1.52. 

However, it is not just the number of goals, but the manner of them. It is not the what, but the how. There is now a feeling that it is impossible to stop Mbappe, a sense of inevitability whenever he is in possession of the ball. France have leaned even more into his explosive genius, and the decision is paying dividends: the 24-year-old has been one of the best players in the world over the past 18 months, but here in Qatar, he is proving it to the world.  

Teams have sat deep, pushed up, put multiple markers on him, stuck tight, dropped off, kicked and grabbed. Nothing has worked so far. This has been the World Cup of Mbappe; if France go all the way, it would be impossible to look past his inspirational contribution.  

Bet on France to win the World Cup @ 5.00

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download England are to be taken seriously 

England 6-2 Iran: Gareth Southgate's side score SIX to get World Cup campaign started in style in Qatar - Eurosport

Sure, it can be annoying hearing ‘it’s coming home’ the instant they look even remotely good. However, do not let that blind you: The Three Lions are legit. 

Senegal are far from football royalty, so this may feel like an exaggeration. However, it is the comfort and composure with which they went about their business, weathering an early flurry and then striking twice before half-time. Some of their movement and timing was mesmeric, as was the performance of a number of individuals, most notably Jude Bellingham. 

Tougher tests await for sure. One of them — reigning champions France — are literally up next. However, it is to England’s credit that, even against the 2018 World Cup winners, this tie is considered an even contest. And why not? Jordan Pickford has kept the most clean sheets in the competition, aided by a reborn Harry Maguire and John Stones; they have, in Declan Rice, a supreme defensive midfielder; and Harry Kane, who has been linking play expertly all tournament long, finally got in among the goals against the Teranga Lions. 

Add to that the talents of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, the returning Raheem Sterling and the aforementioned Bellingham, and they have the ability to go toe-to-toe with and hurt just about any team in the tournament. 

  Bet on England to take the World Cup home @ 7.00

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download Argentina v Netherlands is going to be an awful match to watch 

Netherlands vs. Argentina World Cup time, live stream, TV channel, lineups, odds for FIFA Qatar 2022 quarterfinal clash | Sporting News Malaysia

This fixture conjures images of the 1978 World Cup final and their meeting at the 1998 World Cup. Both were instant classics, with iconic goals and high stakes, and so there is a temptation to see this in the same light and expect fireworks. 

Nothing could be farther from reality, however. In fact, betting on under 2.5  goals at 1.59 in this game makes the most sense. 

This is because, in their respective Round of 16 matches, both teams were far from sparkling. The Dutch kept USA at arm’s length and won comfortably, but were far from expansive and there remain concerns over their commitment to attacking football. Similarly, Argentina were the better side against Australia, but not only were they hanging on by the end, but their reliance on Lionel Messi appears to have resurfaced. When he is on, they are on. When he isn’t, they are hopelessly lost. 

However, as Virgil Van Dijk said, this version of Messi can be touched. And if there is a manager left in the competition clever enough to shut him down, it is Louis Van Gaal.  

We will in all likelihood get a tactical battle but an attacking goalfest might be too much to ask for.  

Bet on Netherlands to win and under 2.5 goals @ 2.43 

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Logo PNG Vector (SVG) Free Download Morocco achieved the upset, but what do they have left in the tank? 

Morocco 2022 World Cup squad: Roster, outlook, players to watch - Sports Illustrated

The Morocco miracle got one more airing against Spain, culminating in a famous penalty shootout triumph for the Atlas Lions. In doing so, they became only the fourth African side ever to reach the last eight. Betting on Morocco going this deep in the competition would have been an improbable pick, but one worth a sizable return. 

So, how far can they go? Well, that depends on who is fit. Because, by the end of their win over Spain, Walid Regragui’s side was full of the walking wounded. Both the full-backs have carried niggles throughout the tournament, and that was before playing 120 minutes, while their centre-backs both picked up injuries. 

Portugal will come in as clear favourites anyway, but facing an opponent with such a limited squad and one battling injury problems everywhere piles even more pressure onto the Portuguese.  

It may really be that simple — and anticlimactic — where Morocco are concerned. If they cannot field their best XI, then they likely have come to the end of the road. 

Bet on Portugal to win or over 2.5 goals @ 1.39 

Indeed, the ongoing World Cup has been one of the best in recent history, and as it enters the business end, it will only get more suspenseful. Will it be Africa’s time? Will the Dutch finally break their duck? Will France retain and achieve a 60-year milestone? Only time will tell. Either way, go with your gut: feel it, bet on it with BetKing. 

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