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The upsets continued in the quarter-finals of the World Cup as two powerhouses tumbled out in the last eight.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil were left to deal with the misery of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia, whose hopes of progressing to a second successive final are still alive.
Much bigger than that upset, though, was Morocco following up their stunning win over Spain by ending Iberian involvement in the tournament with a shock defeat of Portugal, sending Cristiano Ronaldo out of maybe his final World Cup in tears.
France and Argentina came close to fluffing their lines against England and the Netherlands, respectively, and they will be expected to contest the final.
But will those expectations be met?
Stats Perform’s AI model has updated to give the latest prediction as to who will lift the trophy at Lusail Stadium on December 18.
Let’s check out the results…
FAVOURITES: Argentina (40.6 per cent)
Is it finally Lionel Messi’s time? Events on the field and the numbers are suggesting arguably Argentina’s greatest player will add the finishing touch to his resume at what is likely to be his last World Cup.
La Albiceleste were able to overcome dramatically surrendering a two-goal lead to the Netherlands to prevail on penalties and book their place in the last four.
With Brazil failing to do so and missing out on a blockbuster semi-final with their arch rivals, Argentina’s path to a first title since 1986 is supposedly much easier, and their odds reflect that.
Argentina are given a 67.2 per cent chance of reaching the final and a 40.6 per cent of capturing World Cup number three.
As they proved in knocking out Brazil, however, Croatia are likely to make it much more difficult than the model indicates.
2. France (35.2 per cent)
The defending champions were far from convincing in knocking out England to keep their hopes of retaining the trophy alive, needing a Harry Kane penalty miss to prevent the last-eight meeting going to extra time.
Having come through that stern test, France have the best odds to progress to the final, Les Bleus seen as having a 69 per cent chance of beating Morocco in the semis.
Yet, with their percentage chance of winning the tournament nearly five points lower than that of Argentina, it is clear it is Messi and Co. who are viewed as the stronger team.
France won the last meeting with Argentina at a World Cup, beating them 4-2 in the last 16 in 2018 en route to glory in Russia.
3. Croatia (14 per cent)
The World Cup’s penalty kings are on the verge of a second successive final, but the model expects a clash with Argentina to be a step too far for Croatia.
Croatia have a 32.8 per cent shot to overcome Lionel Scaloni’s team and, given a 14 per cent chance of ending their wait for a maiden world title, there is little confidence they can back up a potential shock last-four win by defeating France.
Zlatko Dalic’s men, though, have a made a habit of proving people wrong.
And they also saw off Argentina in 2018, easing to a 3-0 win in their second group stage game. This latest encounter will almost certainly be a lot less routine.
4. Morocco (10.1 per cent)
The Atlas Lions are the World Cup’s ultimate surprise package, becoming the first African nation in history to reach the semi-finals.
Whatever happens now, they can look back on that remarkable achievement with great pride.
A place in the third-place play-off appears more probable than a spot in the showpiece. Morocco have a 31 per cent shot to stun the reigning champions, according to the model, with their odds of winning just slightly over 10 per cent.
Having kept clean sheets against Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, Morocco will hope their defensive solidity can carry them to a place in the final nobody thought possible.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Highlights – Gorolive.com