FIFA World Cup Rankings: Breaking down the remaining 16 teams


The field for the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup is now complete with the last two nations booking their spots on Friday.

Which nation has momentum going into the next phase of the competition? Who’s lucky to be there? Who might be a surprise package?

We rank the 16 teams going into the knockout stage of the tournament.

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Path to the round of 16: First place in Group B
Results: 6-2 win vs. Brazil, 0-0 draw vs. U.S., 3-0 win vs. Wales
Next opponent: Senegal (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

Setting aside the game against the Americans in which they were outplayed, the Three Lions have been brilliant in Qatar. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has bagged three goals, and has been ably supported by England’s crop of exciting youngsters, most notably Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden. Going up against a centre back the quality of Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly will test the true quality of the English attack.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group G
Results: 2-0 win vs. Serbia, 1-0 win vs. Switzerland, 1-0 loss vs. Cameroon
Next opponent: South Korea (Monday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

Should we read anything into Brazil’s loss to Cameroon? Not really, as coach Tite made nine changes and fielded his ‘B team’ with a second-round berth already secured. Neymar sat out the last two games of the group stage with an ankle injury, and his status for the rest of the World Cup is unknown at the moment. But Brazil still has to be considered among the top favourites to win it all.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group D
Results: 4-1 win vs. Australia, 2-1 win vs. Denmark, 1-0 loss to Tunisia
Next opponent: Poland (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

Don’t let France’s loss to Tunisia fool you. Manager Didier Deschamps fielded an experimental lineup after his team already booked its spot in the round of 16. Les Bleus were outstanding in their first two games, with Kylian Mbappé leading a first-rate attack and Adrien Rabiot masterfully pulling the strings in midfield. It’ll be interesting to see how their defence will deal with veteran Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group F
Results: 0-0 vs. Croatia, 2-0 win vs. Belgium, 2-1 win vs. Canada
Next opponent: Spain (Tuesday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

The Atlas Lions were one of the most consistent teams over the course of group stage, having conceded just one goal, while an attack led by dangerous wide players Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi has caused plenty of problems for opponents. Morocco is the first African nation to win its group since 1998, but a round-of-16 showdown with Spain represents its toughest challenge to date in Qatar.

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Path to the round of 16: First place in Group C
Results: 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, 2-0 win vs. Mexico, 2-0 win vs. Poland
Next opponent: Australia (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

La Albiceleste overcame a disastrous start to their World Cup campaign with a pair of clean sheet wins to top their group. Lionel Messi is in top form, but he’s not doing it all alone. Argentina is also benefiting from stellar contributions by veteran Angel Di Maria, and youngsters Enzo Fernández, Alexis Mac Allister and Julián Álvarez. Their back line is somewhat suspect, but you have to like their chances against Australia.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group E
Results: 2-1 win vs. Germany, 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, 2-1 win vs. Spain
Next opponent: Croatia (Monday, 10:00 a.m. ET)

Has there been a better story at this World Cup than Japan? The Asian powerhouse knocked off European giants Germany and Spain to deservedly win their group. All four of their goals have come in the second half when they’ve been trailing, so the Japanese have shown a great resolve in Qatar. But going down against Croatia, who boast a star-studded midfield led by Luka Modrić, would be ill advised.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group A
Results: 2-0 win vs. Senegal, 1-1 vs. Ecuador, 2-0 win vs. Qatar
Next opponent: United States (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

This isn’t exactly a vintage Dutch side, but they effectively went about their business in the group stage by collecting seven out of a possible nine points. There were genuine questions about goalkeeper Andries Noppert ahead of this tournament as he hadn’t yet been capped by the Netherlands. But he’s been great in Qatar. So has winger Cody Gakpo (three goals), who will look to extend his scoring streak to four games vs. the U.S.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group E
Results: 7-0 win vs. Costa Rica, 1-1 draw vs. Germany, 2-1 loss vs. Japan
Next opponent: Morocco (Wednesday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

While certainly impressive in its opening game against Costa Rica, Spain wasn’t able to finish off their opponents in their next two matches, squandering leads in both outings and settling for a single point. Atlético Madrid striker Álvaro Morata has looked impressive with three goals for a well-oiled Spanish attack, but breaking down a Morocco side that has only given up one goal (and an own-goal at that) represents its toughest test in Qatar.


Path to the round of 16: First place in Group H
Results: 3-2 win vs. Ghana, 2-0 win vs. Uruguay, 2-1 loss to South Korea
Next opponent: Switzerland (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

All the focus before the tournament was on Cristiano Ronaldo, but Bruno Fernandes has been Portugal’s best player and among the best midfielders at this World Cup with a pair of goals. The Portuguese are somewhat vulnerable in defence, but you have to like the vast array of attacking options that manager Fernando Santos has at his disposal. Should be a pretty open game between Portugal and Switzerland in the next round.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group G
Results: 1-0 win vs. Cameroon, 1-0 loss vs. Brazil, 3-2 win vs. Serbia
Next opponent: Portugal (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

The Swiss aren’t exactly flashy, but they find ways to grind out results, and they’re off to the round of 16 for the fourth time in their last five World Cup appearances. Xherdan Shaqiri came up big in the 3-2 win over Serbia by scoring on goal and setting up another to secure second place in Group G. A scintillating matchup with Portugal looms, as the two nations have had some great battles over the years.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group F
Results: 0-0 vs. Morocco, 4-1 win vs. Canada, 0-0 vs. Belgium
Next opponent: Japan (Tuesday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

Defensively sound and well-organized, Croatia hasn’t sent hearts aflutter with its attacking play— aside from the big win over Canada — as it was blanked in its other two group games. Luka Modrić, Marcelo Brozović and Mateo Kovačić form one of the best midfield trios at this World Cup, but will they be able to hold onto the ball and slow down the speedy Japanese, who are riding high after upsetting Germany and Spain?


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group B
Results: 1-1 vs. Wales, 0-0 vs. England, 1-0 vs. Iran
Next opponent: Netherlands (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

The Americans have proven to be tough to break down due to their defensive organization, led by 23-year-old captain Tyler Adams, who has been one of the standout midfielders in Qatar. But their lack of offensive production (just two goals) is cause for concern, especially with Christian Pulisic dealing with a pelvic injury. Trying to contain Dutch winger Cody Gakpo (three goals) will be a stiff test for the American defence.

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Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group A
Results: 2-0 loss to Netherlands, 3-1 win vs. Qatar, 2-1 win vs. Ecuador
Next opponent: England (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

What a fun team to watch. Senegal has provided plenty of entertainment in Qatar with its fearless and open style of attacking play, which has helped it reach the knockout stage of a World Cup for only the second time. The loss of veteran striker Sadio Mané due to injury hasn’t slowed down the Lions of Teranga, as five different players scored for Senegal in the group stage. But England is on another level than its previous three opponents.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group H
Results: 0-0 draw vs. Uruguay, 3-2 loss vs. Ghana, 2-1 win vs. Portugal
Next opponent: Brazil (Monday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

A goal in injury time saw South Korea defeat Portugal, which allowed the Asian powerhouse to edge Uruguay for second place in Group H by the slimmest of margins. It’s only the third time the South Koreans have made it to the knockout round in 11 World Cup appearances. It’s a great accomplishment. Now, they face the tall task of taking on mighty Brazil.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group D
Results: 4-1 loss to France, 1-0 win vs. Tunisia, 1-0 win vs. Denmark
Next opponent: Argentina (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

You have to hand it to the Socceroos for the way they rebounded after being outclassed in their opening match against France. They’ve kept things tight defensively and made the most of their limited scoring chances to book a spot in the knockout round for the second time in six World Cup appearances. Their reward? A showdown with powerful Argentina, led by Messi, who appears to be on a mission in Qatar.


Path to the round of 16: Second place in Group C
Results: 0-0 vs. Mexico, 2-0 win vs Saudi Arabia, 2-0 loss to Argentina
Next opponent: France (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

Honestly, Poland is fortunate to be here after edging Mexico for second place in its group based on goal difference. While goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny has been sensational and kept his country in this tournament, the attack has looked limp and lacked inspiration – Robert Lewandowski has missed a penalty and only has one goal for Poland. It’s difficult to envision this team being able to go toe-to-toe with France.

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