World Cup Round of 16 preview: who's in, who's out and stories to watch (2023)

Japan played like they could beat anyone (and they did, beating Spain and Germany). Brazil remain favorites to win it all, even as they wait to see if striker Neymar can return from injury. And the USA, led by team captain Tyler Adams, looked better than expected.Joya Samad/AFP/Getty Images; Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images; Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images hide title

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Joya Samad/AFP/Getty Images; Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images; Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

World Cup Round of 16 preview: who's in, who's out and stories to watch (2)

Japan played like they could beat anyone (and they did, beating Spain and Germany). Brazil remain favorites to win it all, even as they wait to see if striker Neymar can return from injury. And the USA, led by team captain Tyler Adams, looked better than expected.

Joya Samad/AFP/Getty Images; Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images; Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Even this year's World Cup was a football spectacle: steamrollers, surprises, dramatic goals, penalty kicks,pelvic bruises,tears of joy,tears of desolation,just mm shoulder and footballit makes the difference between elimination and ecstasy.

And that was just the group stage.

Now begins the knockout round. A thrilling mix of Goliath and David equally found in a group of 16. All will play until only one remains undefeated, crowned champion for four years of glory and bragging rights.

the picture shows

Photos: Highlights of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

And a real World Cup is coming this year: for the first time, teams from all six populous continents are represented in the knockout stage, including two teams from Africa and two teams from Asia. A team from outside Europe or South America has never played in a World Cup final. This year, six teams hope to break that streak.

When are the games? Who should you support? Who is most likely to win it all? Here's your round of 16 conversation guide, along with a play-by-play preview as we head into the weekend:

FIFA World Cup 2022

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the referees will extend the games. Many.

i like winners Who should i support?

But nothing is certain at the World CupBrazilseems to be the leaders, which is not surprising for the most victorious team in the history of the World Cup. Despite struggling in the knockout stages since their last trophy in 2002, Brazil found a relatively easy route to the final this year.

Other safe tips areFrance,ArgentinajSpain, all of which were dominant at times in the group stage. Argentina is naturally led,by Lionel Messi, one of the greatest players of all time🇧🇷 France, the 2018 winners, have the electrifying Kylian Mbappé, who at 23 already has too many notable statistics and records to list, just knowing he is in the company of the likes of Pele and Ronaldo. And Spain are hoping to relive the magic of their 2010 World Cup victory with a host of new talent, including 20-year-old midfielder Pedri, who was crowned Europe's best young player last year.

Who is the brave underdog I can ride?

The fashion choice isJapan, who notched two electrifying wins against heavyweights Spain and Germany in the group stage with tenacious play that made the most of limited opportunities. The blue samurai hat never won an elimination match; Monday's game against Croatia could be the first.

FIFA World Cup 2022

The USA beat Iran 1-0 in a must-see World Cup game

Another option isMorocco, which is perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament as it helped eliminate Belgium 2-0. It is only the second time that Morocco has advanced to the round of 16 and they are also hoping for their first victory of the stage, despite a difficult draw against Spain.

Most notable group stage results

Belgiumis officially at the end of an era: four years ago, its so-called "golden generation" of players had taken the team to third place, this year it was considered the favorite to win overall. Instead, they were knocked out after a surprising 2-0 loss to Morocco and a disappointing 0-0 draw with Croatia on Thursday.

Germany, also felt the pain of elimination after failing to cope with a shocking 2-1 loss to Japan. The 2014 winners have not progressed to the two World Championships since.UruguayThey played a similar game after drawing against South Korea in the tournament opener and did not progress even after beating Ghana 2-0 in their last game.

A look at all the Round of 16 matches

Netherlands v USA (Saturday, December 3, 10am ET):The Dutch got ahead in a relatively easy group. Dutch striker Cody Gakpo is his team's standout player with a goal in each of their three group stage games, making him one of the top scorers at the World Cup. The USA are good on defense - they didn't concede a goal in the group stage all game - so their challenge will be to score. The Americans have only scored two goals so far, Christian Pulisic was involved in both. Pulisic was brought into action against Iran on Saturday following his injury, but if he really plays 100% it could be crucial for the US.

FIFA World Cup 2022

Football star Christian Pulisic is on the mend and hopes to play in Saturday's game

Argentina v. Australia (Saturday, December 3, 2:00 pm ET):Expectations for Argentina were high ahead of Messi's likely World Cup final. The team stumbled early with a historic surprise loss to Saudi Arabia.perhaps the biggest upset in tournament history– but have since put the ship back on track with 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland. Messi is hoping to take Argentina back to the final for the first time since 2014, when they lost 1-0 to Germany.Anything else would be a disappointment.🇧🇷 While Australia may have the best nickname at the World Cup, the Socceroos don't have the best chance of a long run - their debut came as a surprise in a 1-0 win over Denmark - and they need an even bigger surprise to go beyond Argentina.

FIFA World Cup 2022

Lionel Messi and Argentina qualify for World Cup with 2-0 win over Poland

France v France Poland (Sunday, December 4, 10am ET):Defending champions France also looked to be the team to beat this year in their first two games as their systematic attacking style failed them. Mbappé has already scored three goals in this tournament. France is by far the favourite. That's not to say Poland don't stand a chance: the rojiblancos have their own star in Robert Lewandowski, the 34-year-old striker who ranks among the best players in the world. And Lewandowski is hungry for World Cup glory: despite having scored more than 500 goals in his career, it was only last week that he scored his first World Cup goal.

England v England Senegal (Sunday, December 4th, 2pm ET):Expectations are always high for England, who always field top teams but have not finished fourth since winning the 1966 World Cup. The 6-2 victory over Iran showed what this team is capable of : raining goals, mainly from set pieces like corner kicks. But also the 0-0 draw with the United States, where the Three Lions offensive struggled to create chances in midfield. Senegal is the highest ranked African team yet in the tournament. It plays without its star, world-class striker Sadio Mane, who was injured just before the World Cup. But even without Mané, Senegal are not easy, with a lot of energy and pace of play that could pose a challenge for England.

FIFA World Cup 2022

Some clothing choices caused a stir at the World Cup

Japan v. Croatia (Monday, December 5, 10am ET):Japan jumped into fan favorite territory after their unlikely showing as Group E winners, defeating Germany and Spain. The team won both games despite their opponents' dominance of possession (74% for Germany, 82% for Spain) – it's dangerous despite the limited opportunities. Japan go into Monday's game feeling they can beat any team left in the World Cup and they are right. It's an unfortunate draw for Croatia, who are the best team on paper. Croatia are bringing back a core team that reached the 2018 World Cup final, but that's the way it is since then they have frequently struggled internationally, including two draws in group stage matches that year. That's a tosup.

Brazil v. South Korea (Monday, December 5, 2:00 pm ET):Brazil entered the World Cup rankings at No. 1 and reached the top of the group. But this is Star Neymar was injured in Brazil's opener against Serbia; his return to the knockout stage remains unclear. With or without Neymar, Brazil will be big favorites over opponents South Korea, who qualified for the Round of 16 with a surprising (and delicious) thrashing of Portugal on Friday. South Korean Premier League forward Hwang Hee-chan came on as a substitute in the crucial game after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury; his sneaky goal in stoppage time sent his team away.

goats and soda

Death and dishonesty: stories of two workers who built the World Cup stadiums in Qatar

Morocco v. Spain (Tuesday, December 6, 10:00 ET):Morocco's rising race may find its chainsaw here in Spain, which has fallen to this point after a surprise loss to Japan in the Round of 16. Spain have only won the World Cup once, in 2010, but this year's squad is a good mix of seasoned veterans and young stars getting their first taste of a World Cup game. Spain will be favourites, but if Morocco can beat Belgium 2-0 (and it would have been 3-0 without a goal disallowed), then they can beat anyone.

Portugal v Portugal Switzerland (Tuesday, December 6, 14:00 ET):Perhaps the most famous soccer player in the world, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved everything that can be achieved in soccer, except winning a World Cup. At 37, this is probably his last chance to take the trophy to Portugal and the team is rallied around him. However, Portugal has not been doing well lately, and Switzerland has been doing better. The Swiss faced the best teams in Europe in an international match in 2021. In June, these two teams faced each other twice and shared the victories. But Ronaldo was perhaps the deciding factor: he sat out the first game, which the Swiss won 1-0, and then returned for a rematch, scoring twice as Portugal won 4-0.

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