After seeing each team play three matches, we have cut the field of 32 in half. 16 teams remain and now it is win or go home in Qatar. Let’s take a look at how each group finished and who will match up in the round of 16. 

Group A: 

  1. *Netherlands 2-1-0, 7 pts (+4 GD)
  2. *Senegal 2-0-1, 6 pts (+1 GD)
  3. Ecuador 1-1-1, 4 pts (+1 GD)
  4. Qatar 0-0-3, 0 pts (-6 GD)

Taking an initial look at group A, it finished basically as expected with the Dutch on top and Qatar in last. Many people had Senegal as the second team advancing from group A, however, an injury to their best player, Sadio Mane, made some people (including myself) question if that would keep them from advancing. 

Coming into the final group stage game on Tuesday, Ecuador and Senegal had yet to face each other. With Qatar already eliminated, this game would decide who would get the final spot from group A. Although Ecuador dominated the possession with 62 percent, they gave up a crucial penalty right before halftime and Senegal converted to take a 1-0 lead to the break. In the sixty-seventh minute, Ecuador would equalize. However, just three minutes later, Senegal scored the winning goal that would send them to the round of the 16. I was very impressed with the play of Ecuador, even though they did not advance, especially in their 1-1 draw with the Netherlands. 

Group B: 

  1. *England 2-1-0, 7 pts (+7 GD)
  2. *USA 1-2-0, 5 pts (+1 GD)
  3. Iran 1-0-2, 3 pts (-3 GD)
  4. Wales 0-1-2, 1 pt (-5 GD)

Being American, I obviously have followed this group the most. England came into the world cup off of losing the Euro Final in penalty kicks to Italy. England has been knocking on the door in recent history and was ranked fifth in the world coming into the World Cup. Clearly, they were the favorite team, and deservedly so as they defeated Wales and Iran—-but tied the United States in a 0-0 game, which they probably should’ve lost. 

The United States had a 1-1 draw with Wales where they gave up a late penalty kick that ultimately cost them the full three points. Then the U.S. tied England, setting up a win-or-go-home game versus Iran on the final match day for Group B. This was a gritty game but the U.S. got the job done, winning 1-0 thanks to a beautifully set up goal which was finished by Christian Pulisic. Ultimately Wales underperformed, but I give credit to Iran for making it extremely difficult on the United States and pushing them till the very end. 

Group C: 

  1. *Argentina 2-0-1, 6 pts (+3 GD)
  2. *Poland 1-1-1, 4 pts (0 GD)
  3. Mexico 1-1-1, 4 pts (-1 GD)
  4. Saudi Arabia 1-0-2, 3pts (-2 GD)

Group C started with absolute chaos with one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. On matchday, Saudi Arabia shocked Lionel Messi and Argentina resulting in a 2-1 victory. Argentina had 70 percent possession and 15 shots compared to just three for Saudi Arabia. The old saying quality over quantity came into effect here as Messi and the company didn’t finish their opportunities. This match, however, did not change the fact that the best team in the group, Argentina, would come out on top. 

Coming into the World Cup, many thought that Argentina would win this group and Poland and Mexico would fight it out for second. They were spot on and in fact, it came down to goal differential to decide the team that would advance to the round of 16. Ultimately, Poland edged out Mexico by one goal and advanced to the round of 16. This is extremely disappointing for Mexico as they have the talent to make a run in a major tournament, however, they just can’t seem to put it all together when it really matters. 

Group D: 

  1. *France 2-0-1, 6 pts (+3 GD)
  2. *Australia 2-0-1, 6 pts (-1 GD)
  3. Tunisia 1-1-1, 4 pts (0 GD)
  4. Denmark 0-1-2, 1 pt (-2 GD)

Group D contains the defending World Cup Champions in France. In recent World Cups, there has been a curse of defending champions getting knocked out in the group stage. France was happy to break this curse and Advance with ease, making nine lineup changes going into their third game, knocking that they already had a berth in the round of 16. Many people thought that France and Denmark would be the two teams to advance, but Denmark looked poor and was quite disappointing. Denmark was ranked the tenth team in the world and only failed to manage one point in three matches. As for Australia, they looked very impressive, besides the 4-1 thrashing they took against France. Australia did what they needed to do in their pair of 1-0 victories over Denmark and Tunisia. 

Group E: 

  1. *Japan 2-0-1, 6 pts (+1 GD)
  2. *Spain 1-1-1, 4 pts (+6 GD)
  3. Germany 1-1-1, 4 pts (+1 GD)
  4. Costa Rica 1-0-2, 3 pts (-8 GD)

Wow. This was easily the most exciting final match day of the tournament. At one point in time, all of these teams were in a position to advance during the final match day. Ultimately, Japan and Spain advanced but boy is this a disappointment for Germany. Since winning it all in 2014, the Germans have failed to advance out of their group in the past two world cups (2018 and 2022). German fans expect and deserve better. 

On paper, Germany and Spain should have been the two teams that advanced, but that is the beauty of why we play the games. Japan should be extremely proud of their team, they beat Spain and Germany and looked threatening while doing so. Spain will be happy to advance but disappointed in the way in which they couldn’t finish their chances against Japan. 

Group F: 

  1. *Morocco 2-1-0, 7 pts (+3 GD)
  2. *Croatia 1-2-0, 5 pts (+3 GD)
  3. Belgium 1-1-1, 4 pts (-1 GD)
  4. Canada 0-0-3, 0 pts (-5 GD)

Belgium, the second-ranked team in the world, should be disgusted with their performance in the World Cup. This team looked horrible and definitely gets the title of the most overrated team in the world. Belgium is also an older team so their window is quickly closing. 

Canada had another disappointing performance, however, they did impress me during qualifying and even, at certain times, during their matches against Belgium and Croatia. Croatia will be happy to advance, but they look vulnerable and have a lot of work to do if they want to return to the World Cup Final as they did in the previous World Cup. The winners of this group in Morocco played surprisingly well in their draw with Croatia and their 2-0 win over Belgium. Their game against Canada did not mean anything for Canada as they were already eliminated but it was crucial for Morocco to go in and take all three points as they did. 

Group G: 

  1. *Brazil 2-0-1, 6 pts (+2 GD)
  2. *Switzerland 2-0-1, 6 pts (+1 GD)
  3. Cameroon 1-1-1, 4 pts (0 GD)
  4. Serbia 0-1-2, 1 pt (-3 GD) 

Many people had Brazil as the favorite to win it all coming into the tournament. Even with the injury to Neymar, this team still looked like one of the most dominant teams. Neymar should rejoin them soon, maybe even for the round of 16 game. In my opinion, this group played out the way it should have on paper. Switzerland were deserving of the second spot in this group to be the final team to advance from Group G. 

As for Cameroon, they battled hard against Switzerland falling 1-0, and dropped points against Serbia in a 3-3 draw on matchday two. Finally, for Serbia, being up 3-1 on Cameroon and only getting one point from the match was a huge blow as well as their 3-2 loss today to Switzerland on the final matchday. 

Group H: 

  1. *Portugal 2-0-1, 6 pts (+2 GD)
  2. *South Korea 1-1-1, 4 pts (0 GD)
  3. Uruguay 1-1-1, 4 pts (0 GD)
  4. Ghana 1-0-2, 3 pts (-2 GD) 

What a crazy finish on the final match day, second place decided by the third tie breaker.. In this case, South Korea had four and Uruguay only had two. Portugal won this group with ease even after suffering a 2-1 defeat to South Korea. Ghana finished in last place, but really did battle each and every minute they were on the field. A dramatic 3-2 loss to Portugal and a 2-0 defeat to Uruguay earlier today were the main reasons why Ghana did not advance. I was greatly disappointed by Uruguay not advancing by the slimmest of margins, as their players surrounded the refs and followed them into the tunnel. 

Round of 16:  

With the group stages officially finished here are the matchups for the round of 16 along with some insight on how I think the rest of the tournament will conclude. 

Round of 16 

12/3 Netherlands vs USA: The first match of the round of 16, features the second youngest team in the World Cup—the USA. USA has only scored two goals in three games, while Cody Gakpo of Netherlands has scored three himself. I’m not saying that the USA can’t win this game, I just see them having trouble scoring more than one goal. If the Americans want to win they will need to finish just about every chance they get and, unfortunately, I do not see this happening. 

Prediction: 2-1 Netherlands

12/3 Argentina vs Australia: After suffering one of the biggest losses in World Cup history, Argentina bounced back with two big wins over Mexico and Argentina to grab the top spot in Group C. After getting destroyed by France, Australia rebounded nicely and defeated Tunisia and Denmark, both 1-0, and grabbed the 2nd spot in group D. It seems that Messi and company have too much offensive firepower for these Australian defenders and will cruise to a victory. 

Prediction: 3-1 Argentina

12/4 France vs Poland: The defending champions in France cruised past Australia in a 4-1 victory and added on a 2-1 victory over Denmark where they attempted 21 shots. This French team has some of the best attackers in the world and will get tons of shots against almost any defense. As for Poland, they lost to Argentina as expected, but drew Mexico and beat Saudi Arabia. Mexico is not even close to the caliber of France and Poland got lucky to even advance to the round of 16. I’m expecting France to dominate and have this one wrapped up early. 

Prediction: 3-0 France

12/4 England vs Senegal:

While England did win Group B, they looked vulnerable against the USA. Now, we don’t have to over analyze it as it’s just one game at the end of the day, but Senegal is a very tough team and could give England some problems. I expect England to win but I would not be surprised if Senegal came out on top. 

Prediction: 2-1 England

12/5 Japan vs Croatia:

Any time that you beat Spain and Germany in the same World Cup, you should be proud regardless of the end result. Japan looked phenomenal besides the 1-0 hiccup to Costa Rica where they dominated but couldn’t finish and gave up a late goal. As for Croatia, they are coming off of a loss in the final of the 2018 World Cup. In this World Cup, they tied Morocco and Belgium and they demolished Canada 4-1. All of their goals came in that game versus Canada and they have shown that they have trouble scoring at times. This will be one of the more entertaining games in this round. 

Prediction: 3-2 ET Croatia

12/5 Brazil vs South Korea:

I’ll keep this one short. No offense to South Korea, but Brazil is the best team here and South Korea didn’t perform their best and were somewhat fortunate to make it out of Group H. Brazil will be in control from the kickoff. 

Prediction: 4-1 Brazil

12/6 Morocco vs Spain:

Morocco’s statement against Belgium came down to finishing opportunities and Belgium did not. On the other hand, Spain opened the group stages with a 7-0 victory over Costa Rica and everybody thought that they would breeze through the group stage. At the end of the day, they only advanced on goal differential and haven’t looked quite like themselves. However, I will go with the more trusted and experienced side in Spain.

Prediction: 3-1 Spain

12/6 Portugal vs Switzerland: 

In what might be Ronaldo’s last World Cup, he is tasked with facing Switzerland in the round of 16. I think that Portugal has looked poor at times, but still managed to get the job done. Switzerland looked solid against Brazil but did not manage a single shot on target. Finishing will be the difference here and the edge clearly goes to Portugal. 

Prediction: 2-0 Portugal

Final: Brazil Defeat France

In what would be a dream matchup for many football fans across the world, I have Brazil defeating France in the 2022 World Cup Final. Yes, it would be extremely difficult to make it to two straight World Cup Finals, but I think France has the talent. I just think that without Benzema and Pogba Brazil is better. This would be a phenomenal game but I give the slight edge to Brazil.

Prediction: 3-2 Brazil

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