The group stage is done and dusted as 16 teams have booked their spots in the pre-quarter final stage. The usual suspects have all made it to the next round, leaving behind a couple of teams, while Asian and African teams have been rewarded for a good show with a seat at the table of 16.
The knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup will kick off on day 14 of the tournament as Netherlands face the United States and Argentina play Australia in the first two Round of 16 fixtures.The knockout rounds feature one-off matches, which can go to extra time and then penalties to decide the winner.
Reigning champions France, from Group D, was the first team to make the cut for the Round of 16 after winning their first two group games convincingly. Les Bleus first beat Australia 4-1 before outplaying Denmark 2-1.
With it, France became the first defending champions, since Brazil in 2006, to avoid a group stage exit from the FIFA World Cup. Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014, and Germany in 2018, were all knocked out in the Group stage.
France, however, lost their last group game against Tunisia but still went through as the toppers ahead of Australia.
Kylian Mbappe has been the standout player for France so far and is one of the frontrunners for the FIFA World Cup 2022 top scorer award.
Similarly, Cody Gakpo has spearheaded the Netherlands’ campaign as the Dutch qualified for the Round of 16 as the top-placed team from Group A.
A late goal from captain Kalidou Koulibaly, meanwhile, helped Senegal oust Ecuador in their final group game, a match which was a virtual playoff, to go through as the second-placed team from the group.
Group B has also been decided as England, with two wins and a draw, won the group. A Christian Pulisic goal in the vital final match against Iran, meanwhile, helped the USA men’s football team advance as the second-placed team from Group B.
Brazil, despite missing star Neymar owing to an injury, sealed an early ticket to the knockouts from Group G by winning their opening two matches (2-0 vs Serbia and 1-0 vs Switzerland). Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal also made a hassle-free cut for the knockouts from Group G, after defeating Ghana 3-2 and Uruguay 3-2.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina shook off an upset loss against Saudi Arabia to top Group C and made the Round of 16, while Poland saw off a stiff challenge from Mexico courtesy a superior goal difference to progress as the 2nd placed team.
Netherlands, Senegal, England, USA, France, Australia, Argentina, Poland, Morocco, Croatia, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Switzerland, South Korea and Portugal qualified for the Round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Qatar, after losing their opening two games, were the first team to crash out of the race for the Round of 16. The hosts eventually lost all three of their group matches to end their campaign on a disappointing note.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Round of 16 schedule
Group A 1st (Netherlands) vs Group B 2nd (USA)
Group C 1st (Argentina) vs Group D 2nd (Australia)
Group E 1st (Japan) vs Group F 2nd (Croatia)
Group G 1st (Brazil) vs Group H 2nd (South Korea)
Group B 1st (England) vs Group A 2nd (Senegal)
Group D 1st (France) vs Group C 2nd (Poland)
Group F 1st (Morocco) vs Group E 2nd (Spain)
Group H 1st (Portugal) vs Group G 2nd (Switzerland)
1.Manuel Neuer made his 19th appearance in World Cups when he started against Costa Rica on Thursday to top the list of most appearances for a goalkeeper.He went past Germany’s Sepp Maier and Brazil’s Claudio Taffarel who have 18 appearances each.
2. Gabriel Batistuta is currently Argentina's leading goal-scorer in World Cups with 10 goals. Messi has eight to his name, and three more will see him set another record. Also, Maradona has the most assists with eight, but Messi has six and could also break that record.
Golden Boot-FIFA 2022 QATAR
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is nearing the knockout phase. One of the top honour players compete for is the Golden Boot, awarded to the player with the most goals in the tournament.
England captain Harry Kane bagged the prize at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he scored six goals and led his team to the semi-finals.
Contenders in the race for top scorer at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Alvaro Morata, Spain (3)
The Atletico Madrid marksman has scored in all of Spain’s Group E games, including one off the bench against 2014 champions Germany. Morata, who was edged out of the starting lineup by Marco Asensio in his side’s first two World Cup games, set up Spain’s fifth goal in their 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica before getting off the mark himself to round off a one-sided opener.
Kylian Mbappe, France (3)
France’s talisman failed to find the net as Tunisia recorded a famous upset over Les Bleus in their final Group D match. The 23-year-old scored against Australia in his side’s opener and bagged a second-half double against Denmark as France booked their knockout spot.
Marcus Rashford, England (3)
The England striker has enjoyed a dream start to his World Cup campaign in Qatar. Rashford’s place in the squad was uncertain a few months ago due to form and fitness, but the Manchester United forward moved up the Golden Boot standings after he netted twice in England’s rout of a Gareth Bale-led Wales side.
Cody Gakpo, The Netherlands (3)
The Dutch forward has managed to find the net regularly in Qatar so far, as the Netherlands progressed to the last 16 after finishing top of Group A. The 23-year-old Gakpo has been influential in his club PSV Eindhoven’s run to the Europa League knockout stages and has been the subject of transfer speculation with top European clubs said to be vying for his signature when next summer’s transfer window opens.
Lionel Messi, Argentina (3)
The Argentina great is playing in what he has said is probably his last World Cup. The 35-year-old opened his account by burying a spot kick in a shock Group C loss to Saudi Arabia, before scoring and assisting Enzo Fernandez in an emotionally-charged win over Mexico.
Messi’s arch-rival, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, will also be eyeing the Golden Boot as he became the first player to score in five World Cups after his goal against Ghana in their Group H opener.
Bruno Fernandes, Portugal (3)
Portugal’s run in the World Cup in Qatar so far has been overshadowed by controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and his acrimonious departure from Manchester United. But 28-year-old Bruno Fernandes, who has long played second fiddle to his superstar teammate, stepped out of Ronaldo’s shadow by scoring twice against Uruguay, after he set up two goals in Portugal’s 3-2 win against Ghana.
Klose holds record for most goals
Miroslav Klose, who is the all-time goal scorer for the Germany national team, with 71, also holds the record for most World Cup goals.
Klose had 16 goals in 24 appearances in four tournaments -- 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. The striker had five goals each in 2002 and 2006, four in 2010, and 2 goals in 2014.
Ronaldo from Brazil is second on the list with 15 goals.Another German legend, Gerd Muller, nicknamed "Der Bomber" is in the third spot, netting 14 goals.
Youngest player in World Cup history
Norman Whiteside was born in Northern Ireland in 1965, Whiteside was just 17 years and 41 days when he debuted for his country against Yugoslavia in 1982′s edition of the tournament, meaning he would likely have been playing during his summer vacation from school.