The World Cup quarter-finals are just around the corner, and there is plenty to look forward to.
While the results will be the main focus, there is one sub-plot which is worth keeping an eye on. Any players who have been booked during this tournament run the risk of getting themselves suspended for the semi-finals.
This is the final round of games before all yellow cards get wiped, so several players could be on edge. Here are the individuals who will miss out on their country’s potential semi-final tie if they pick up a yellow card.
Croatia (vs Brazil)
- Croatian captain Luka Modric is one of the players at risk, having been booked in his side’s second game against Canada. He won the Golden Ball four years ago in Russia, and is widely accepted as their best player.
- Alongside him in midfield is Mateo Kovacic, who has enjoyed a fine World Cup so far. He was given a yellow card in their round of 16 tie against Japan.
- Dejan Lovren could also miss out on the semi-finals if he picks up a yellow card. He has started all four games for the Blazers, keeping two clean sheets and registering an assist for Ivan Perisic against Japan.
- The fourth and final Croatian player at risk is Borna Barisic, who was booked against Japan. The round of 16 tie was his only appearance so far, with Borna Sosa starting all three group stage games.
Brazil (vs Croatia)
- Defender Eder Militao was shown the yellow card in Brazil’s fixture against Cameroon. He has started three games in Qatar, lining up as a centre-back and on the right of a back four.
- Fred could also earn himself a suspension for the semi-finals. He probably won’t be in Tite’s starting XI, with Casemiro and Lucas Paqueta likely to be preferred.
- Should he feature, Bruno Guimaraes will also be walking a tightrope. He has appeared twice off the bench, but is yet to start a game.
Netherlands (vs Argentina)
- Frenkie de Jong picked up a late yellow card in Netherlands’ victory over USA last time out. The Barcelona man has played almost every minute for the Oranje, scoring once.
- Nathan Ake is another who has been almost ever-present for Netherlands. He was booked in their 2-0 win against Qatar in the group stages.
- Should Ake miss out, Matthijs de Ligt could be in line to replace him. He is also at risk of suspension, however, having been booked in their opener against Senegal.
- Teun Koopmeiners was shown a yellow card in the round of 16. He has featured in all four games, starting once.
Argentina (vs Netherlands)
- Marcos Acuna was booked in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland on matchday 3. He has started each of their last three matches.
- The only other Argentinian player at risk is Gonzalo Montiel. The full-back has played a total of 73 minutes in Qatar.
Morocco (vs Portugal)
- Sofyan Amrabat has drawn widespread praise for his performances. He is carrying a yellow card, which he received against Croatia.
- Romain Saiss has also been crucial to Morocco’s success, playing every minute while conceding just once in four outings. He was booked in the 90th minute of their clash with Spain.
- Abdelhamid Sabiri is the final Moroccan player on a yellow card. He has started once and come off the bench three times.
Portugal (vs Morocco)
- Bruno Fernandes has been one of the stars of the World Cup, scoring two and assisting three. He was booked in Portugal’s opener against Ghana.
- Joao Felix enters this tie off the back of a brilliant performance in the last round against Switzerland. He is also at risk, having been given a yellow card against Uruguay.
- Ruben Dias could also pick up a suspension for the semi-finals if he gets a yellow card. The centre-back has started three games, keeping one clean sheet.
- Midfielder Ruben Neves was booked in matchday 2 against Uruguay. He started all three group stage games, but was reduced to a substitute appearance in the round of 16.
- Danilo Pereira is also on a yellow card, which he picked up in the first game. However, recent reports claim that he is ruled out anyway through injury.
England (vs France)
- England are the only remaining team not to have picked up a single yellow card throughout the tournament. This will give Gareth Southgate the full freedom to launch Operation ‘Kick the Living Daylights Out of Kylian Mbappe’.
France (vs England)
- Aurelien Tchouameni has started three of France’s four fixtures. He was booked in their last outing against Poland.
- Jules Kounde is Didier Deschamps’ only other concern. He picked up a yellow card in Les Bleus’ victory over Denmark.
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