World Cup Predictions: Lawro’s Friday fancies include 7/1 shock

Mark Lawrenson's warmed up and ready to smash the quarter finals in to row z.

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3pm: Croatia 1-2 Brazil
7pm: Netherlands 1-0 Argentina

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3pm: Croatia v Brazil

TV: BBC, RTE

We know Croatia will battle hard at this stage because, in the last couple of competitions, they’ve got a really good record. Brazil just took South Korea apart and they were 4-0 up in no time.

Croatia looked leggy against Japan. They’re an ageing team and it doesn’t surprise me they looked that way. Obviously this is a big game for them so they’ll be well up for it.

Neymar got through that game against South Korea but Croatia might target that ankle. It’s perfectly understandable and if they manage to make a bit of contact on his ankle then hey ho!

One of my criticisms of Neymar would be that he goes down at the slightest of touches all the time and it becomes a little bit about him rather than the team. The team have done really, really well without him. Maybe he’s thinking he needs to pull his socks up because these lads can seriously play and maybe it’s not all about him anymore.

Brazil are very, very good. They can play multiple ways and have loads of goal scorers. I’ll go 2-1 Brazil with maybe a little bit of a fright from Croatia but I just think the forces with Brazil, with Pele being in hospital and those kind of things… sometimes things are written in the stars, aren’t they?

7pm: Netherlands v Argentina

TV: BBC, RTE

This is an interesting one because Lionel Messi played completely differently against Australia than he had been. When the game starts opening up he comes into his own. He scored a fab goal last time but that was a little bit out of nothing.

If Argentina go ahead then The Netherlands will need to press and come out in search of an equaliser. I think when that happens Messi comes alive, finds some space, and conduct the orchestra. If it’s really, really tight with loads of bodies around him it’s naturally more difficult for him.

The thing with the Dutch is that you can play against them. They’re not a particularly pressing team and they rely on their defensive quality. I just have a feeling it might be a game too far for Argentina though.

I know people are thinking they’re doing great and they’re getting better and all that but the Dutch haven’t hit their peak yet. I’m going to go for the Netherlands to Win 1-0. I think they’ve got a big display in them and we know what Louis van Gaal’s like.

His teams are always very, very well prepared. I just think every team in the competition that gets to this stage has one game where they really hit the highs like Portugal did against Switzerland.

I think that’s going to be the case with The Netherlands because Argentina only come alive when Messi comes alive and you just can’t do that all the time. They struggled to prize open Australia and the Netherlands are far better than the Aussies. I’d love Messi to get to the final and I’d love him to win but I just think this is a game too far.

Friday’s World Cup Tips

3pm: Croatia 1-2 Brazil
7pm: Netherlands 1-0 Argentina

All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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