|Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listings – Full coverage details|
Half of the 32 teams are heading home, but which of the sides left standing will survive all the way to the World Cup final at Lusail Stadium on 18 December?
The hopes of eight more nations will bite the dust after the first knockout round, which includes England against Senegal and BBC football expert Chris Sutton’s adopted nation, Japan.
Sutton is probably even more popular in the Land of the Rising Sun than he is on these shores after he correctly predicted Japan would beat Germany and also knock the four-time winners out of the tournament.
He is making a prediction for every match in Qatar, and correctly guessed the outcome of 26 of the 48 group games.
Before the tournament, Sutton chose 12 of the 16 teams that are through to the first knockout stage, including France, his pick to win the tournament, and England, who he believes will reach the quarter-finals.
|Saturday, 3 Dec|
|Netherlands v USA||x-x||2-1|
|Argentina v Australia||x-x||5-0|
|Sunday, 4 Dec|
|France v Poland||x-x||4-0|
|England v Senegal||x-x||2-1|
|Monday, 5 Dec|
|Japan v Croatia||x-x||2-1 AET*|
|Brazil v South Korea||x-x||2-0|
|Tuesday, 6 Dec|
|Morocco v Spain||x-x||0-1|
|Portugal v Switzerland||x-x||1-1 P**|
** Switzerland to win on penalties
Saturday, 3 December
Netherlands v USA (Khalifa International Stadium, 15:00 GMT)
The Netherlands sailed through their group but I don’t think they look anything special. In fact, they have been pretty underwhelming so far.
They are my left-field pick to win this World Cup but, to even get near that, they will have to improve on what they have shown us so far.
I am not sure that will happen, and this might be another game where the Dutch find a way to win, rather than dazzle us.
The danger for them is if they take the United States too lightly, because a lot of England fans thought we would beat them easily and the reality was very different.
The US are not just well organised, they are young and hungry and I like the way they play. My only worry about them is that they don’t have a goalscorer in their team.
Christian Pulisic is an injury doubt, and if he does miss out it is a big problem for them. They struggle to find the net anyway.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-1
Argentina v Australia (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 19:00)
Australia reaching the last 16 was one of the greatest moments in their football history – the bunting was out in Brisbane and the confetti was out in Canberra. It was great to see.
The Aussies have done brilliantly and I don’t want to patronise them, but them getting to this stage is like England winning the World Cup final.
Credit to their boss Graham Arnold for having them so well organised, but they are limited and I don’t think they have got any hope of going further at this tournament.
I also don’t think they will be partying much when Argentina have finished with them.
I’ve watched Argentina a couple of times now and, against Poland, it just felt like they were getting their game going. They could have scored six or seven that night.
I’ve gone big here with my predicted scoreline, but you have to remember it is all or nothing for teams now, so they can’t sit back against one of the favourites and protect their goal difference like they do in the groups.
Australia will have to go for it if they go behind and that will leave more space for Argentina to exploit.
Sutton’s prediction: 5-0
Sunday, 4 December
France v Poland (Al Thumama Stadium, 15:00 GMT)
Based on what I’ve seen of them so far, if Poland get in the France half, they will be lucky. They just don’t seem able to get the ball up the pitch to Robert Lewandowski, who is so isolated.
The Poles are big and slow and I think they were lucky to get out of Group C.
France can chuck in a poor performance every so often and I know this has been a World Cup of shocks so I am asking to get egg on my face… but I only see this going one way.
Sutton’s prediction: 4-0
England v Senegal (Al Bayt Stadium, 19:00 GMT)
I went to watch England train on Thursday and, just from the warm-up, I can smell that they are going a long way in this competition.
Seriously, though, I am confident about their chances, although I don’t think Senegal will let them have this all their own way.
The African champions were pretty disappointing when they played the Dutch but, when it really mattered, they turned up against Ecuador.
England’s starting XI will be interesting, and there is always a great debate about that, but I think the strength on the bench will make the difference for Gareth Southgate, whoever begins the game.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-1
Monday, 5 December
Japan v Croatia (Al Janoub Stadium, 15:00 GMT)
No-one predicted Japan would get out of their group or that Germany would be knocked out – well, no-one apart from me.
I don’t think the Blue Samurai are done at this tournament yet, although I can see this tie going the distance and all the way into extra-time before they win it.
I am maybe being a little romantic here, I know, because Croatia have some canny operators and fantastic players.
Japan are probably a better team than they think they are, with the technical players they have got. At the moment they play in patches but that might still be enough.
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1 after 90 minutes. Japan to win 2-1 after extra-time.
Brazil v South Korea (Stadium 974, 19:00 GMT)
South Korea left it very late to get here, but the dramatic way they qualified from Group H means their World Cup has been memorable no matter what happens next.
They will give this a good go, and they showed against Portugal how well organised they are at the back, but I don’t think they have got enough at the other end to bother Brazil.
How close this is might depend on whether Neymar is back from injury, and the noises coming out of the Brazil camp are not especially promising there, but I still think Brazil will win even if they have to do it without him.
Sutton’s prediction: 2-0
Tuesday, 6 December
Morocco v Spain (Education City, 15:00 GMT)
Spain are the best footballing team in this tournament.
I really like their style and their pretty passing patterns but they always try to play through people and if teams are sitting deep they can find it difficult.
I watched them against Japan on Thursday and they had all of the ball but they didn’t look like scoring even when they got desperate – maybe Guillem Balague was right about their lack of goals after all.
So, this one is going to be close. Morocco are probably stronger, physically, but I don’t think they will chase the ball high up the pitch – instead they will probably sit back and pick their moments, a bit like Japan did against Spain.
Sutton’s prediction: 0-1
Portugal v Switzerland (Lusail Stadium, 19:00 GMT)
Switzerland were really passive against Brazil and didn’t manage a shot on target but their other games in Qatar give us a better idea of what to expect from them here.
Portugal have some excellent players but the Swiss will be full of confidence here after the way they overcame Serbia to get to the last 16, and they also beat Portugal when they played them in the Nations League in June.
This will be close and I have a feeling Cristiano Ronaldo will have a big say in the outcome – although not necessarily in a positive way.
It is a risk versus reward scenario for Portugal if they pick Ronaldo, because his influence on the team is massive but they might have a better starter who should be in the side.
If this tie goes the distance, how long should he stay on the pitch?
Sutton’s prediction: 1-1 – Switzerland to win on penalties after extra-time – Ronaldo to miss the decisive spot-kick