The Group Stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup has concluded and we are ready to start the knockout phase with the Group of 16.
A couple shocks did take place with the Group Stage. Firstly, two top teams: The Netherlands (17th) and Italy (19th) did not qualify for the World Cup. Secondly, Germany – the defending Champions and the top seeded team in FIFA – failed to make it out of the Group Stage.
The Round of 16 breaks down as follows (numbers indicate FIFA ranking as of May 17th 2018):
Uruguay (14) vs. Portugal (4)
France (7) vs. Argentina (5)
Brazil (2) vs. Mexico (15)
Belgium (3) vs. Japan (61)
Spain (10) vs. Russia (70)
Croatia (20) vs. Denmark (12)
Sweden (24) vs. Switzerland (6)
Colombia (16) vs. England (17)
Russia is the lowest ranked team to make it to the knockout stage, ranked 70th in the world. Russia is also the host nation. Mexico beat Germany in the Group Stage 1-0. The biggest difference between ranked teams meeting in this round are Belgium and Japan, and Spain vs. Russia. In both cases, expect the higher placed team (Belgium and Spain, respectfully) to win.
My predictions to win are as follows: Portugal, France, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, and England.