France, Spain among Round of 16 favourites on World Cup odds

Time to fill in the World Cup knockout-stage blanks

Despite bowing out of the tournament quite early, pride was restored following their huge 2-0 win over Germany in their final Group F game on Wednesday.

Loew and his men looked down in the dumps as they headed home from Vnukovo airport in Moscow on Thursday morning as Spain were installed as the new favourites for the tournamnet.

The powerful Mannschaft, the dominant force of world football recent years, crashed out miserably in the first round of the World Cup, and nobody saw it coming. Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin will be a familiar foe from La Liga derbies, but the Uruguay captain is one of the toughest centre-backs around.

Yet in the bottom half of the last 16 draw, nations with not a single World Cup triumph to their names like Switzerland, Russia, Sweden, Croatia, Denmark and Colombia have every right to remain hopeful. Does Uruguay take the initiative, like they did against Saudi Arabia?

Brazil's tournament got off to a rocky start when they were held 1-1 by Switzerland, but two stoppage-time goals against Costa Rica set them on their way to top spot.

Japan squeaked into the knockout rounds in the strangest of circumstances, Senegal missing out on the last 16 due to their inferior fair play record.

And beyond that could lie Sweden who, it should not be forgotten, have been responsible for knocking out the Netherlands, Italy and Germany from this World Cup.

More news: Clinical Colombia send sorry Poland packing with 3-0 victory

What Channel Is the World Cup 2018 France vs. Argentina Game On?

One side of the bracket appears to be stacked, featuring four of the top five teams in the world.

Russia had pledged to host a safe and secure World Cup in 11 cities which would be inclusive and diverse, but racist incidents at matches between Russian Premier League clubs and at an global friendly earlier this year fuelled concerns that players and fans could be subjected to abuse.

Despite his feat, the 22-year-old was surprisingly left out of the squad for Russian Federation and the Germans departed the group stages after losing to Mexico and South Korea either side of a late victory over Sweden.

Kane has the more hard task of facing Colombia, so Lukaku is likely to have caught his Golden Boot rival by the time the quarter-finals come around, should they both progress. However, defending champions Germany lost to South Korea 2:0.

Key battle: Yerry Mina's two goals have been vital for Colombia, but the Barcelona defender will have to be on his toes to keep out Kane, who should be fresh after sitting out the Belgium defeat. To be honest, if we can't score a goal in 90 minutes against South Korea then we don't deserve to go through.

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