With two stars hitting the exit door, a new one was born with Kylian Mbappe winning the last-16-round – here are the winners and losers
The wonder kid has finally turned up properly in this tournament, and the first team to suffer from it was Argentina. The Frenchman’s pace, power, technique, intelligence and calm helped him score two and push France to a crucial victory. What a player.
The curse of the penalties was not enough to stop the three Lions this time. England had to face a 94th-minute equaliser but kept their cool and with the help of Jordan Pickford made it past Colombia.
Who would have thought it? The worst-ranked team of the tournament knocked out one of the best. Football, as usual. Russia did their job and made the most of Spain’s laziness.
The surprise of this tournament, without a doubt. After knocking out Germany in the groups, the Swedes are in the quarter-finals. And without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The spirit of Uruguay in one player. Simply phenomenal. Two of the most beautiful goals of the competition in the same game, firing home with a lovely header first, and finessing with the inside of his foot to make it 2-1 to Uruguay. With the help of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani performed at his very best.
It was a lot tougher than expected, but these are the kind of games that can lift a team to the next level. Belgium were disappointing against Japan from a technical perspective, but impressive psychologically, as they turned a 2-0 defeat into an unbelievable late win.
The Brazilian might be on the floor a bit too much, but with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo out, Neymar is the main star and showed it with a goal and an assist to take Brazil past Mexico.
Everyone was cheering for Kasper Schmeichel, who saved a penalty in extra time then went on to save more in the end. And in doing so, everyone forgot that Croatia also had a goalkeeper. Including the Danish players. Croatia are in the quarter-finals, Denmark return home. Football, again.
If you look at the starting elevens of Spain and Russia, it’s impossible not to think that the hosts should have been blown away. It didn’t happen. And Spain have to blame themselves and their lazy football.
He started off with four goals in two games, then switched off in the third, missing a penalty, and whilst the media were destroying his rival Lionel Messi, he simply exited the World Cup without anyone really noticing.
Their best game of the tournament came against a side that is simply superior, France. It wasn’t enough, and perhaps rightly so, Jorge Sampaoli’s team return home.
They were so close to the miracle. But the truth is that, at this level, if you throw away a 2-0 lead you’ve bottled it. And Japan did so.
El Tri tried their best, to be fair. Well, almost. The Mexican side that beat Germany seemed to have a different spirit to the one who were far too easily knocked out by Brazil.
Simply did not turn up against Sweden and were lucky to concede just once.
Played terrible football for 90 minutes, then got an incredible equaliser and started dominating. The question is: what could they have done had they played with the spirit of extra time for the whole game?