2022 World Cup bracket complete after riveting group stage drama
Teams will have to regroup quickly before the 2022 World Cup shifts gears from a wildly entertaining group stage to the round of 16.
On the eve of Saturday's first knockout-round match, the bracket for the round of 16 was confirmed after one of the craziest group stage rounds in World Cup history concluded Friday.
It was another day jam-packed with excitement, as South Korea and Switzerland filled the last two places of a World Cup bracket that few could have envisioned or predicted before the tournament kicked off in November.
The bracket for 2022 is somewhat balanced with title contenders on both sides, unlike in 2018 when it was noticeably lopsided after some surprise group stage results in Russia. There's been no shortage of upsets in Qatar, but thankfully, that hasn't resulted in an uneven bracket.
The round of 16 kicks off Saturday with the Netherlands facing the United States, while Argentina takes on Australia later in the day. Reigning World Cup champion France plays the next day against Poland before England wraps up Sunday's action against Senegal.
2002 semifinalist South Korea secured an unexpected berth in the knockout rounds with one of the most dramatic wins so far at this edition of the World Cup. Needing a victory against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, South Korea was staring down the barrel of elimination with the match tied 1-1 heading into injury time.
Cue Son Heung-min, who took matters into his own feet with a barrelling run into the Portugal end while fending off defenders as he approached the penalty area. But instead of having a go on target, the selfless Tottenham Hotspur star's pass sent Hwang Hee-chan clear to score the winning goal in the 91st minute.
The prize for South Korea's heroic effort is a meeting with five-time World Cup champion Brazil in the next round, which will feature more countries from the Asian confederation (3) than South American competitors (2).
South Korea's win sent shockwaves through a football world still recovering from the surprise of Japan's group-winning victory over Spain a day earlier. Japan scored twice in three minutes to beat the 2010 World Cup champion 2-1, a result that shockingly sent four-time champion Germany home early. Japan takes on Croatia next.
Meanwhile, Switzerland reached the round of 16 for the third successive World Cup after a 3-2 win denied Serbia a path out of Group G. Switzerland will now have to get past Portugal to reach the quarterfinals.
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