World Cup 2018: All you need to know about the last 16

2018 Fifa World Cup last 16
Venue: Russia. Dates: 30 June - 3 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button and iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online.

The knockout stage of the World Cup got under way on Saturday, when France beat Argentina 4-3 in a last-16 classic in Kazan.

Nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager to score two in a World Cup match since Pele in 1958 as Les Bleus became the first team to reach the quarter-finals in Russia.

They will meet Uruguay in the last eight on Friday 6 July (15:00 BST) after the South Americans beat Portugal 2-1 in Saturday's second last-16 game.

It means Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo - two of the most prolific scorers in world football - remain without a World Cup winner's medal.

Hosts Russia are through to the last 16, along with former winners Brazil, England and Spain.

Defending champions Germany were among the 16 teams who did not qualify from the group stage.

The 21st World Cup provided 122 goals, 36,349 completed passes, 158 yellow cards and lots of video assistant referee drama in the group stage.

However if the scores are level after 90 minutes in knockout games, 30 minutes of extra time will be played, followed by penalties if necessary.

If a match goes to extra time, each team will be allowed to make a fourth substitution,external-link the first time this has been allowed at a World Cup.

Will Neymar stay on his feet to inspire Brazil?

Even after the exits of Germany, Argentina and Portugal, there are a number of heavyweights still standing.

Five-time winners Brazil will be hoping star forward Neymar can stay on his feet for long enough to help them beat Mexico in Samara on Monday (15:00).

The world's most expensive player has been on the ground so much in Russia that one pub in Rio gave out free shotsexternal-link each time the forward hit the floor against Serbia on 27 June.

Neymar did score in his country's second group game against Costa Rica but was denied a penalty and booked for dissent in the same match.

"It was front page on one of the papers that Neymar has been going to ground once every nine minutes at this World Cup," said South American football expert Tim Vickery.

"There is so much that is good but there are things that are deplorable about him."

Spain, the 2010 winners, have been far from their best, but have been unbeaten in 23 games leading up to their meeting with hosts Russia on Sunday at 15:00.

And this tournament represents a last chance for several of Belgium's players to win a World Cup.

Defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are 32, while defender Jan Vertonghen and forward Dries Mertens are 31.

"It's now or never for a lot of these players," former Belgium striker Gilles de Bilde told BBC Sport.

Belgium, third in the Fifa rankings, face Japan in Rostov-on-Don on Monday at 19:00.

  • Spain v Russia - live on BBC One from 14:30 BST, Sunday

Will England overcome a 12-year itch?

With an average age of 26 years and 18 days, England arrived in Russia with the third-youngest squad in the tournament.

They overcame Tunisia and Panama to reach the knockout stage before a much-changed team lost the final group game 1-0 to Belgium.

England must now beat Colombia, quarter-finalists in 2014, in Moscow on Tuesday at 19:00 if they are to repeat their feats of 2002 and 2006 by reaching the quarter-finals.

"Our objective was to qualify from the group and we have done that," said boss Gareth Southgate. "We are still a work in progress but that's not a bad thing at this stage."

England must do something they have not managed since 2006 if they are to reach the last eight - win a knockout match at a major tournament.

Under Roy Hodgson in 2014, they failed to get out of their World Cup group, while in 2010 Fabio Capello's team lost 4-1 to Germany in the last 16.

Indeed, England have won only two of their past eight knockout games at the World Cup - against Denmark in 2002 and Ecuador in 2006.

They also went out on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals at the 16-team Euro 2012 and lost to Iceland in their first knockout game at Euro 2016.

Southgate describes the Colombia match as England's "biggest game for a decade".

History in the making for Japan?

With a population of 144 million willing them on, Russia have turned on the style to emerge from the group stage at their own World Cup - despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

Sitting 70th in the Fifa rankings, they can expect more feverish support when they face Spain in Moscow's 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium at 15:00 on Sunday.

Russia scored eight goals and won two games in the group stage

Japan, who face Belgium, are one win away from reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, while Switzerland's most recent appearance in the last eight came in 1954.

Switzerland play Sweden, who came third in 1994, in St Petersburg at 15:00 on Tuesday, while Mexico must beat Brazil to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since hosting the World Cup in 1986.

Croatia meet Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod at 19:00 on Sunday. Whoever wins will make the last eight for the first time since 1998.

Croatia captain Luka Modric was 12 years old when his country went on to reach the semi-finals in France 20 years ago.

"It is a stern test for us, but it is high time that this generation hurdles this obstacle which we haven't hurdled since 1998," said the midfielder.

  • Belgium v Japan - live on BBC One from 18:30 BST, Monday

Goodbye to the GOATs (greatest of all time)

Two of the greatest players of all time are on their way home after Argentina and Portugal were knocked out on the most prolific day of knockout football at the World Cup since 1970.

Ten goals were scored in the first two last-16 games.

However, Lionel Messi could not inspire his team-mates as they went down to France in a seven-goal thriller in Kazan.

Messi, who will be 35 when the next tournament takes place in 2022, remains without a goal in 756 minutes of World Cup knockout stage action.

World Cup 2018: Is Lionel Messi the GOAT or a mere human?

Despite nine La Liga titles and four Champions League triumphs with Barcelona, Messi has yet to win the World Cup.

The golden trophy also continues to elude Ronaldo and Portugal.

A mural of Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo on a building in Kazan, Russia
A mural of Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo by the hotel where Lionel Messi and Argentina were staying in Kazan

Ronaldo lit up the World Cup with a hat-trick against Spain on 15 June, but the Portugal captain was frustrating as the Euro 2016 winners lost to Uruguay.

Earlier this month, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said Messi, 31, and Ronaldo, 33, "probably have one last chance" to win the World Cup.

  • Sweden v Switzerland - live on BBC One from 14:30 BST, Tuesday


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.


Top Stories

Explore the BBC