Best still to come from World Cup favourites after shocks galore

The World Cup in Qatar has already delivered plenty of major shocks but as it moves into the knockout phase the top contenders including Brazil and France have plenty to prove.

Brazil remain the favourites to claim a sixth World Cup and end Europe’s recent dominance on the global stage.

A mouthwatering showdown with Argentina in the semi-finals remains a possibility, with Lionel Messi and his teammates recovering from their shock loss to Saudi Arabia to beat Mexico and Poland.

Argentina came into the World Cup unbeaten in 36 games and with expectations high that they could win the trophy for a third time but coach Lionel Scaloni has played down their chances.

Holders France are the team to beat and in Kylian Mbappe they have the most exciting player in the competition.

Spain, the joint-top scorers in the group stage with England on nine goals, are also on their side of the draw.

It was German great Jurgen Klinsmann, part of FIFA’s technical study group analysing the tournament, who predicted that Qatar would produce shocks.

Japan, who have never gone further than the first knockout stage, stunned Germany and Spain and now have 2018 finalists Croatia in their sights.

Qatar has also already been a good World Cup for Africa, with two teams in the last 16, compared with none four years ago.

Senegal, who have overcome the loss of Sadio Mane, will face England, while a talented Morocco side are living up to their billing and will have the backing of many across the Arab world when they play Spain.