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The World Cup has officially capped off its Round of 16 knockout stage matches. After what proved to be an exciting four days worth of match ups, we saw two overtime matches, a couple sets of PKs, and a great deal of heartache. 

The United States and Netherlands kicked off the Round of 16 with an exciting matchup between a historical powerhouse and young underdogs. While the United States did not take home a win, they proved that they could hang with some of the biggest teams in the game. Their young midfield proved to be the bright spot throughout the game and tournament, offering fans of the stars and stripes hopes for 2026. Meanwhile, the Netherlands proved that stats do not tell the full story, with the US dominating possession and shots on goal. Two first half goals proved to set the Netherlands over the top in their 3-1 victory.

Australia and Argentina proved to be much tighter of a matchup than anyone had ever predicted. After making the knock-out round for just the second time in their history, Australia was looking to make it further in the tournament than ever before. This historic match up saw Messi score his first ever knockout round goal in the World Cup pairing with Julian Alvarez’s goal in the second half would see Argentina making it to the Quarterfinal. Australia’s lone goal came from an own goal off of Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez, but would not be enough to send the Socceroos on to the next round. 

After a loss to Tunisia in the final match of the group stage, France were looking to prove themselves in the Round of 16 against Lewandowski’s Poland. The matchup saw young superstar Kylian Mbappe score two goals in the second half and Olivier Giroud break Thierry Henry’s France goal scoring record. France looked dominant throughout the entire matchup with Poland’s lone goal from a Lewandowski penalty. Fortunately for Lewandowski his miss had to be retaken after Lloris stepped forward too early the first time around. Throughout the entire matchup, France looked incredibly dangerous and honestly good enough to repeat titles. 

Football looked as though it was coming home this time around for the Three Lions after their matchup with Senegal. After dominating possession throughout the entire match, England truly capitalized on their opportunities throughout the entire matchup. The truly dominant performance from England definitely put the thought in everyone’s mind that football could realistically come home this tournament. However, the three lions have to face France in the quarter finals, which will be the first true test they face in this tournament. 

Arguably one of the more surprising matches of this knockout round was Japan and Croatia. The two sides would go onto play in the first overtime matchup of the tournament that definitely had us on the edge of our seats. While Croatia had a majority of the possession, Japan matched them evenly offensively, proving that they could truly beat the Croatian side. Japan put one in the back of the net late in the first half, sending the Samurai Blue into halftime with a great deal of hope. However, Croatia went into the second half with a chip on their shoulder, wanting to advance passed the Round of 16 for the second straight tournament. Ivan Perisic’s goal early in the half tied it up and ultimately sent the two sides into penalties. After two consecutive missed penalties from the Blue Samurai, their future was looking very dim. However, a miss from Marko Livaja put life back into the Japanese side. Ultimately Croatia would win the match 3-1 in penalties, giving Modric another chance to continue his career with the national team. 

Brazil’s dominant victory over South Korea eliminated any hesitations towards Brazil’s chances to win the tournament. Four first half goals, one coming from the recently injured Neymar Jr. proved their true world dominance. While all four goals came in the first half, Brazil continued their dominance over South Korea in the second half. A late goal from South Korea’s Paik Seung-Ho would end up not being the spark they needed to send them over the top of the Brazilian side. 

Perhaps the most stunning victory of the tournament was Morocco’s penalty win over Spain. After Spain dominated possession and offensively, the match still ended in a 0-0 draw making us wonder what is going on with the Spanish side offensively. It wasn’t until the penalty shootout that we really saw the Spanish side plunder in defeat. Three straight missed penalties from Sarabia, Soler, and Busquets saw Spain exit the tournament for the second straight time in penalties. This match proved to be historic from the Moroccan side as it was the first time an African nation had made it to the quarterfinals in 12 years and the first time the nation has ever made it this far. They play Portugal, which is going to be just as difficult of a match up as this. Will their Cinderella story continue to the semifinals?

Portugal’s matchup with Switzerland definitely raised a lot of questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future. The forward did not start in the matchup against Switzerland, but that proved to not be a problem as Portugal struck in just the 16th minute of the match. After a great deal of Portuguese dominance, it was Pepe that struck in the 33rd minute with a beautiful header into the back of the net. Proving that age is just a number, Pepe became the oldest field player to start in the knockout rounds of a World Cup, pretty impressive we might add. Portugal continued to prove that they were the dominant side in this match-up with Ramos’ second and third goals in the early moments of the second half. Portugal’s emphatic win over Switzerland proved that they are just as powerful without Ronaldo as they are with the superstar. 

What’s Next?

The quarter finals are shaping up to be some of the most historic and action packed in the tournament yet. With big match ups between squads like France and England, we expect to see some of the most exciting games in the tournament in this round alone. Will Ronaldo be back on the field? Will France repeat the title? Can England overcome France? Stay tuned for all the answers in the coming weeks!