What to know for the World Cup knockout stage | CBC Sports

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Canada’s first men’s World Cup appearance in 36 years is over, but soccer’s biggest spectacle marches on. The pairings for the knockout round of 16 are all set now after the conclusion of the group stage today. If you’ve been laser-focused on the Canadian team or just need a quick refresher, here’s a little to know about each of the matchups:


Netherlands vs. United States at 10 a.m. ET: American wonderboy Christian Pulisic is on track to play after suffering a very painful-looking “pelvic contusion” while scoring the goal that sent the U.S. through in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Iran. The Americans have hope of reaching their first quarter-final in 20 years as they face a Dutch team that looked beatable in winning a soft Group A.

Argentina vs. Australia at 2 p.m. ET: Lionel Messi’s possible last chance to escape the shadow of Diego Maradona (at least for a minute) threatened to go up in flames after Argentina lost its opener to Saudi Arabia in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. But the third-ranked Argentines recovered to beat Mexico and Poland to win Group C. They should be able to handle the Socceroos, who advanced for the first time since 2006 with surprising wins over Tunisia and European Championship semifinalist Denmark.


France vs. Poland at 10 a.m. ET: Like Canada in Olympic hockey, it’s sometimes said that France is so deep in soccer talent that its B team would be a contender in the World Cup. And yet, many people wrote off the defending champs due to a combination of injury-related absences (including reigning world player of the year Karim Benzema) and the sort of infighting that always seems to plague this team. But superstar Kylian Mbappé scored three goals (tied for the tournament lead) in two quick wins that sent the French through before a 1-0 loss to Tunisia that didn’t prevent France from winning its group. Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, the best player ever from his country, notched his first World Cup goal against Saudi Arabia after going scoreless in three matches in 2018.

England vs. Senegal at 2 p.m. ET: After reaching the final of the European Championship last year, England looks like a contender for its first World Cup trophy since 1966. Marcus Rashford led the way with three goals as the Three Lions mauled Iran and Wales by a combined 9-2, with a scoreless draw vs. the U.S. sandwiched between for the Group B winners. Senegal advanced from friendly Group A despite missing injured star Sadio Mane.


Japan vs. Croatia at 10 a.m. ET: The 24th-ranked Japanese, who have quietly been sending more and more players to top European leagues, are the most pleasant surprise of this World Cup. They scored upsets over old-world powers Germany and Spain to win the stacked Group E and send the Germans home. 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia, with Golden Ball winner Luka Modric still anchoring a formidable midfield, advanced with a pair of scoreless draws and a 4-1 trouncing of Canada.

Brazil vs. South Korea at 2 p.m. ET: It took until nearly halftime of Brazil’s third match for them to allow a shot on goal. Despite today’s inconsequential 1-0 loss to Cameroon, which still allowed Brazil to win Group G, the World Cup favourites’ stifling defence and endless depth have helped them overcome the absence of superstar forward Neymar, who’s sidelined indefinitely with an ankle injury. Korean fans and players were brought to tears of joy by today’s 2-1 upset of Portugal, which was just enough to send them through after Uruguay couldn’t muster a third goal vs. Ghana to stay alive. The 2-0 final gave a measure of revenge to Ghana, which lost to Uruguay in the 2010 quarter-finals after Luis Suarez (still playing here) intentionally committed a handball that saved a goal in extra time. Read more about the Uruguay-Ghana grudge match from Chris Jones in Qatar. 


Morocco vs. Spain at 10 a.m. ET: The 22nd-ranked Moroccans stole Group F with wins over Belgium and Canada to advance for the first time since 1986. In the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world, they’re the region’s lone representative in the knockout stage. Spain looked splendid in its opening 7-0 rout of Costa Rica but managed just two goals (and only one point) in its matches vs. Germany and Japan to settle for second in that tough group.

Portugal vs. Switzerland at 2 p.m. ET: Amid rumours that he may be joining a Saudi Arabian club for an eye-watering $120 million US per year, Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first man ever to score in five World Cups. Today’s upset loss to South Korea didn’t stop Ronaldo and company from winning Group H. Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 today to secure second place in Group G.

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