Portugal will tangle with Switzerland at the 89,000-seat capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium on Tuesday … and Mexico will be in the house!
Ref César Ramos has been given the whistle for the important Round of 16 clash – his third assignment at the Qatar World Cup. Assistant referees Alberto Morín and Miguel Hernández – both from Liga MX – will have the flags for the all-European knockout game.
This will be Ramos’ third appointment in Qatar, the same number of matches he called at the 2018 World Cup.
Ironically, Ramos – a 38-year-old Culiacán native – reffed Portugal’s Round of 16 match in Russia, a contest in which the Lusitanians were eliminated by Uruguay, much to the chagrin of Cristiano Ronaldo. It might be fun to keep an eye on interactions between the two tomorrow.
World Cup news, notes … and stats
France is now 6 for 6 in Round of 16 appearances. And Les Bleus are 6-1 in World Cup knock-out games under coach Didier Deschamps. France was 4-0-0 at Russia 2018 and at the 2014 Cup, the French defeated Nigeria in the Round of 16 before falling to eventual champs Germany in the quarterfinals.
With his brace against Poland, Kylian Mbappé leads the Golden Boot race with 5 goals. The PSG phenom now has 9 World Cup goals to his credit … and he is only 23 years old. That makes him a genuine threat to the record-holder for most World Cup goals – Germany’s Miroslav Klose (16).
Mbappé’s linemate, Olivier Giroud moved past Thierry Henry for top spot on France’s all-time scoring list. The AC Milan man now has 52 goals wearing a Blues jersey.
One final tidbit on France: Didier Deschamps’ men are the first reigning World Cup champions to survive the group stage since Brazil in 2006. Coincidentally, the South Americans were knocked out by Zinedine Zidane and France at the quarterfinal stage. Thierry Henry was the lone goal-scorer.
Across the Channel, English fans now get to fret over how to stop the defending World Cup champs. But they appear to have the manpower to do it.
England lead all teams with 12 goals, averaging 3 per game. And World Cup rookies are playing leading roles.
Jude Bellingham is drawing raves for his performance in the middle of the park. The Borussia Dortmund pupil became the first teenager to assist in a World Cup knockout game since 1966.
The Three Lions are getting production across the board. Eight different players have found the net for Gareth Southgate’s squad, topped by 21-year-old Bukayo Saka and Manchester United stud Marcus Rashford who each have 3 goals.
And that’s without much of a contribution from skipper Harry Kane. The Tottenham man won the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 but he had not delivered a shot on goal in Qatar until bulging the old onion bag just before the half against Senegal.
Staying in Europe, Spain’s Álvaro Morata became the first member of La Furia Roja to score in each group-stage game. With 9 goals through three matches, the Spaniards already have produced more goals than the 2010 World Cup champions. In South Africa, Spain scored just 8 goals during its march to the title, closing with four straight 1-0 wins to hoist the trophy in Johannesburg.