FIFA World Cup Power Rankings: Breaking down the remaining 8 teams

If the round of 16 was anything to go by, then the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar should be spectacular.

The first round of the knockout stage produced many memorable individual moments of brilliance, a pair of dramatic penalty shootouts and plenty of highlight-reel goals.

What will the next round bring? We rank the eight teams going into the quarterfinals.

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Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group D
Results: 4-1 win vs. Australia, 2-1 win vs. Denmark, 1-0 loss to Tunisia, 3-1 win vs. Poland
Next opponent: England (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

Les Bleus were in cruise control in their victory over Poland, moving one step closer to achieving their ambitious goal of becoming only the third men’s team to repeat as World Cup champions — and the first since Brazil won back-to-back trophies in 1958 and 1962. As brilliant as Kylian Mbappé has been (with a tournament-high five goals), he hasn’t been doing it alone. The PSG star has been abetted by a wonderful supporting cast, including Antoine Griezmann and Adrien Rabiot, in a French side that has one of the most balanced rosters at this World Cup.


Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group G
Results: 2-0 win vs. Serbia, 1-0 win vs. Switzerland, 1-0 loss vs. Cameroon, 4-1 win vs. South Korea
Next opponent: Croatia (Friday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT)

It took Brazil four games to finally break out in Qatar and show the world that joga bonito is still alive and prospering. With Neymar back in the lineup and Vinícius Júnior hitting his top form, Brazil put on an attacking masterclass in the round of 16. The South Americans’ destruction of South Korea served as a reminder to the rest of the field that they are one of the teams to beat as we enter the business end of this World Cup.

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Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group H
Results: 3-2 win vs. Ghana, 2-0 win vs. Uruguay, 2-1 loss to South Korea, 6-1 win vs. Switzerland
Next opponent: Morocco (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

How good is this Portuguese team? So good that they can bench Cristiano Ronaldo and rely on Gonçalo Ramos, who registered a hat trick and collected an assist as Portugal steamrolled Switzerland in only his fourth appearance for his country. João Félix and Bruno Fernandes have been superb this entire tournament as part of a dangerous Portuguese attack that nobody has yet been able to contain in Qatar. It’ll be interesting to see if manager Fernando Santos keeps the faith with Ramos or goes back to Ronaldo in the next round.


Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group B
Results: 6-2 win vs. Iran, 0-0 draw vs. U.S., 3-0 win vs. Wales, 3-0 win vs. Senegal,
Next opponent: France (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

England’s three wins have come against lower-ranked nations, but you have to admire how it has ruthlessly dispatched its opponents, relying on a core of exciting young attackers led by Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden. The Three Lions have hardly put a foot wrong in Qatar, but a quarterfinal showdown with the reigning world champions will give us a good indication of whether or not Gareth Southgate’s side is a legitimate contender or a pretender.

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Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group A
Results: 2-0 win vs. Senegal, 1-1 vs. Ecuador, 2-0 win vs. Qatar, 3-1 win vs. United States
Next opponent: Argentina (Friday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

PSV winger Cody Gakpo has been one of the breakout stars of this World Cup, as he ranks among the top scorers with three goals. But the Dutch have benefited from a balanced attack, sensational play on the flanks by Denzel Dumfries, and outstanding goalkeeping from Andries Noppert, who only made his national team debut in the Netherlands’ opening game of the tournament. A fervent Argentina, led by an in-form Lionel Messi, will easily be the team’s biggest challenge in Qatar after it faced a quartet of nations that failed to give them any serious trouble.


Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group C
Results: 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, 2-0 win vs. Mexico, 2-0 win vs. Poland, 2-1 win vs. Australia
Next opponent: Netherlands (Friday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT)

If Argentina is to win the World Cup for a third time, it won’t be solely because of Lionel Messi. The 35-year-old has been brilliant in Qatar, but so have his younger teammates, especially Alexis Mac Allister (23), Julián Álvarez (22) and Enzo Fernández (21), all of whom have made major contributions to the Argentine cause. Still, this is Messi’s team, and when Argentina has been in need of inspiration at this tournament, it has turned to the man wearing the No. 10 jersey. Can he keep it going against the Dutch?


Path to the knockout stage: First place in Group F
Results: 0-0 vs. Croatia, 2-0 win vs. Belgium, 2-1 win vs. Canada, 0-0 vs. Spain (PK win)
Next opponent: Portugal (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

Has there been a better story at this World Cup than the Atlas Lions? They topped a group that included Belgium and Croatia and moved on to the quarterfinals after knocking off Spain. And they’ve done it on the strength of an outstanding defence that has only been breached once — and that was via an own-goal against Canada But the African nation is going to have its hands full with a Portugal side brimming with confidence. Portugal can overwhelm opponents with its unwavering and relentless attack.


Path to the knockout stage: Second place in Group F
Results: 0-0 vs. Morocco, 4-1 win vs. Canada, 0-0 vs. Belgium, 1-1 vs Japan (PK win)
Next opponent: Brazil (Friday, 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT)

With the exception of its win over Canada in the group stage, Croatia has underwhelmed in Qatar, its attack having yet to shift into second gear. And yet, here it is in the quarterfinals, its place among the final eight teams secured on the strength of Dominik Livaković’s goalkeeping and the steely resolve of a defence that has given away very little. But the back line will face its stiffest test to date in Qatar when it’s tasked with trying to stop a Brazilian side that has discovered its top form.

John Molinaro is one of the leading soccer journalists in Canada, having covered the game for over 20 years for several media outlets, including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media. He is currently the editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, a website dedicated to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian soccer. TFC Republic can be found at

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