World Cup 2022: The club team-mates who could decide the quarter-finals
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Matthew Hill
LiveScore
Tottenham team-mates Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane will face off on Saturday
Tottenham team-mates Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane will face off on Saturday

International football can often turn the best of friends into enemies — and this year's World Cup quarter-final matches will be no different.

Each of the tournament's eight remaining sides have players who will face off against club colleagues, with camaraderie set to be cast aside in the heat of battle.

We take a closer look at a domestic duel from each of the four ties.

Luka Modric (Croatia) vs Vinicius Jr (Brazil)

If Croatia are to have any chance of stunning tournament favourites Brazil, they will need their metronomic midfield maestro Luka Modric to be at his devastating best. 

Despite reaching the ripe old age of 37, the ex-Tottenham man has matured like a fine wine and has once again been hugely influential for his nation in what will surely be his last World Cup.

Among all central midfielders at the tournament so far, Modric ranks inside the top five for crosses (22), final-third passes (60), interceptions (seven) and shots on target (three).

Meanwhile, his Real Madrid colleague Vinicius Jr is playing in his maiden World Cup and having plenty of fun in the process, with a goal and two assists to his name so far.

He ranks inside the World Cup’s top 10 forwards for chances created (eight), attempted take-ons (11) and open-play assists (two) and will be relishing facing an aging Croatian backline.

It would be fitting if the Los Blancos youngster — who has previously spoken of how much he has learned from Modric — could bring the curtain down on his club team-mate’s international career.

Luka Modric was typically influential for Croatia against Japan
Luka Modric was typically influential for Croatia against Japan

Nathan Ake (Netherlands) vs Julian Alvarez (Argentina)

Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands outfit enter their quarter-final against Argentina unbeaten in Qatar but are, in the eyes of many, considered underdogs in this fascinating contest.

The Oranje have played their four games to date within the realms of fine margins and a miserly two goals conceded in those contests suggest they will have a chance of keeping La Albiceleste quiet.

Away from the obvious presence of Virgil van Dijk, Manchester City man Nathan Ake is having an efficient tournament and his club-level knowledge could come in very handy here.

Julian Alvarez, who left his homeland to join the Premier League champions last summer, has filled all three forward positions for Lionel Scaloni's men so far, notching strikes against Poland and Australia.

Though he has only made 16 senior appearances for his country, the 22-year-old has gone about his business like a seasoned professional, hitting the third-most shots on target of any striker at the tournament (five).

Whether out wide or through the middle, his constant pressing and clever runs will demand plenty of attention and club-mate Ake may well be the man for the job.

Romain Saiss (Morocco) vs Ruben Neves (Portugal)

Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss enjoyed great success together at Wolves
Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss enjoyed great success together at Wolves

Few would have expected Morocco to be still standing at the quarter-final stage but skipper Romain Saiss and his troops have become the masters of exceeding expectations in Qatar.

Having topped a group containing Croatia and Belgium, the Atlas Lions sprung the biggest shock of the knockout stages when edging out the mighty Spain on penalties following a defensive masterclass.

Saiss, 32, made over 200 appearances for Wolves before ending a six-year stint in the Black Country last summer and the Besiktas man will meet plenty of familiar faces on Saturday afternoon. 

Ruben Neves is one of three Wolves stars who feature in Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad, with their skipper Ruben Neves the most likely to play a prominent role.

The holding midfielder had to settle for a late cameo from the bench in the 6-1 demolition of Switzerland but played an influential part in Portugal’s successful group stage campaign.

His insight into the mindset of Saiss could be crucial as Portugal look to finally end the fairytale run of Walid Regragui’s plucky North Africans.

Harry Kane (England) vs Hugo Lloris (France)

Harry Kane has been in fine form at the World Cup for England
Harry Kane has been in fine form at the World Cup for England

The build-up to England and France’s Saturday night showdown will quite rightly be centred around the mercurial Kylian Mbappe — but it could well be two Tottenham team-mates who will decide the contest.

Les Bleus have shown plenty of attacking flair but are still without a clean sheet in their first four outings and veteran Spurs stopper Hugo Lloris is likely to be busy against the free-scoring Three Lions.

Bizarrely, Lloris has only made two saves in his first three appearances, though he did keep out Robert Lewandowski’s late penalty against Poland before it was ordered to be retaken.

Spearheading the frontline looking to breach him is England skipper Harry Kane, who has shared a dressing room with Lloris in North London for almost a decade now.

Possessing a far more rounded game than the average centre forward, Kane’s three assists are more than any other striker at Qatar 2022 while he opened his own goalscoring account against Senegal last Sunday.

If previous tournaments are anything to go by, that strike may prompt the start of a hot streak and should spot-kicks be required, it will be fascinating to see if the marksman can outwit his club captain when the heat is on.

Tags

World CupEnglandFranceMoroccoPortugalNetherlandsArgentinaBrazilCroatiaHarry KaneTottenham HotspurManchester CityReal MadridWolverhampton Wanderers
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