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Qatar 2022: Captain America, the World Cup’s breakout star and more to look out for when Nertherlands take on USA

There could be a chance of another upset when Netherlands takes on USA, so this is one that you don't want to miss

Cody Gakpo and Christian Pulisic look to lead their teams to a quarterfinal berth

Both the Netherlands and the USA suffered the ignominy of missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia and both teams head out into this tight affair hoping to appease their fans with a deep run in this year’s competition.

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One team is bound to fail in this quest as a deep run into the competition is certainly going to spell doom for the other.

Who will take the day and create an unhealthy atmosphere of national tension for the other? We would all live to know.

The Netherlands and the USA have only faced off on two occasions, with either team claiming a win each in the friendly games that date back to 2010.

That same year, Netherlands reached the World Cup final, while the USA failed to progress from their group.

Now with both teams meeting in the round of 16, this third tie could serve as a tie-breaker and that adds some extra incentive in case reaching a World Cup quarterfinal is not enough motivation for either side.

Netherlands

Cody Gakpo

Exciting, electrifying, eccentric and easily the breakout star of the World Cup, PSV’s Cody Gakpo has effectively doubled his price tag with his performance in Qatar.

The wizard on the wings has carried the burden of the Netherlands’ attack, scoring three of his country’s five goals so far, as they look for their first ever World Cup title.

There is little doubt that when the Netherlands take on the USA, Gakpo will be key to unlocking what has been a very stubborn USA defence if the Netherlands are to progress.

USA

Christian Pulisic

The Lebron James of football or Captain America, whatever you choose to call Christian Pulisic, the Chelsea forward has proven again that he is the main man in attack for the USA, and the most important player to the team.

Pulisic is the highest-scoring active footballer in the USA national team with 22 goals in 55 appearances and was the USA’s top scorer during the qualification process for the 2022 World Cup.

He has already shown some of what he is made of and has had a hand in both of the USA’s goals so far in Qatar.

He assisted Timothy Weah’s goal against Wales in the opening group game, and scored the goal that put them in the round of 16 with a superb goal against Iran in the final group game.

On his day, there is precious little that Pulisic can't pull off, but it's left to see whether he will have one of his good days against the Netherlands, especially as he struggles with ongoing fitness issues.

The Netherlands have only one fitness concern following the return of Memphis Depay to full fitness.

Full back Jeremie Frimpong is expected to miss out again, but Depay is likely to start alongside Gakpo in a more dynamic front two for the Dutch.

They have also preferred Ajax’s Jurien Timber to Mathias De Ligt after the latter complained about how he was being utilized in the national team and that is not about to change now.

Netherlands possible XI: Andries Noppert; Jurien Timber, Virgil Van Dijk, Nathan Ake; Denzel Dumfries, Steven Berghuis, Frenkie De Jong, Daley Blind; Davy Klaassen; Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay.

The USA are sweating over the fitness of both Pulisic and Josh Sargent, but both are still expected to make the team as they still represent USA’s best options going forward.

USA Possible XI: Matt Turner; Sergino Dest, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson; Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, Weston McKenzie; Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, Christian Pulisic.

The Netherlands have a much richer history and pedigree at the World Cup, but they stumbled and staggered through what was meant to bean easy group, with their best performance coming against Qatar.

They need to pick up steam if they are to justify their position as one of the pre-tournament favourites, and I believe this is exactly what they will do against a USA team that has proven they can frustrate opponents trying to get behind their defence. Expect a low scoring win for USA in the region of 1-0.

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