World Cup 16-team knockout-round picture is taking shape
The GIST: Seven down, nine to go. The 16-team knockout-round picture is beginning to take shape as group play heads into its final few days, but not without some more off-field headlines to accompany the in-game dramatics.
Off the pitch: On Monday, a top Qatari official acknowledged that “between 400 and 500” migrant workers died preparing for the World Cup, far higher than the number they previously released, which was 40. For context, independent reports put the number at approximately 6,500.
- One death is obviously too many, but this latest news serves as a great reminder that it’s well past time for FIFA to pay up.
- Meanwhile, a protester kept human rights top of mind when he ran onto the field during Monday’s No. 9 Portugal vs. No. 14 Uruguay match waving a rainbow flag while wearing a shirt that said “Save Ukraine” and “Respect for Iranian Woman [sic].” HYFR.
Who advanced: Portugal and No. 1 Brazil joined already qualified No. 4 France as the only squads to notch two straight group play wins, sending them through to the Round of 16. They’ll be accompanied by No. 8 Netherlands and No. 18 Senegal from Group A, along with No. 5 England and the U.S. from Group B. No major shockers here.
Who could be next: Statistically speaking, any of the four teams in Groups C and D. Reminder: the top two teams in each group advance and, even with France already through in Group D, all squads competing today (Group D matches kick off at 10 a.m. ET, followed by Group C at 2 p.m. ET) have a chance to punch their ticket.
- Perhaps most notably, No. 13 Mexico is looking for a win against No. 51 Saudi Arabia and for No. 3 Argentina to lose to No. 26 Poland, in order to keep their streak of advancing to seven straight knockouts alive.
- And in more can’t-miss match news, tomorrow’s 2 p.m. ET meeting between No. 31 Costa Rica and No. 11 Germany will feature the first-ever all-women refereeing team for a men’s World Cup game. Now that’s cause for celebration.