Giga Football Pass Last-16 preview: who will reach the quarters?

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It was a whirlwind of excitement in the early part of this summer's football madness and it's not likely to end any time soon

The 2018 Group stage concluded on Thursday, ending a two-week whirlwind of goals, VAR and dashed dreams.

However, the tournament should regain some drama in the Round of 16, as a couple of the matchups look like potential finals. Saturday will be will the best day for purchasing a 'Giga football pass' when France will take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in the first match.

Jorge Sampaoli's Argentinians are divided after stumbling into the knockout stages through the magic of Messi. And they will turn to him once again when they come up against France in Kazan.

Les Bleus, the 1998 champions, boast a squad brimming with superstars, from Paul Pogba to Kylian Mbappe, and Antoine Griezmann to Nabil Fekir. But despite winning their group, Didier Deschamps' team are yet to reach top gear - or possibly even second gear.

France celebratin Paul Pogba goal France Australia World Cup 2018 16062018.jpg

France and Argentina will be facing each other for the 12th time. The South Americans hold the upper hand with six wins to two (D3), keeping a clean sheet in eight of their previous 11 encounters with the French.

Argentina have won their two World Cup encounters with France, back in 1930 (1-0) and 1978 (2-1). On both occasions, they reached the final, losing it in 1930 and winning in 1978.

In the second match of the day, Portugal will once again rely on Cristiano Ronaldo when they take on Uruguay at Fist Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Ronaldo struck four goals to spearhead Portugal through the group stages, though the Euro 2016 champions were very nearly dumped out of the tournament by Iran.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Iran World Cup

It has taken Luis Suarez some time to get going for Uruguay, but La Celeste fans will hope the Barcelona star - along with PSG's Edinson Cavani - have found their feet in time for the knockout stages.

On Sunday, Russia and Spain will head into their last-16 knockout the under pressure, but for very different reasons. Spain's tournament began in chaotic fashion as coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked just two days before their opening game.

Fernando Hierro stepped in to guide La Roja to the knockouts, but the 2010 winners have been far from convincing so far.

Russia, meanwhile, waltzed into the last-16 with two fine wins over Saudi Arabia (5-0) and Egypt (3-1) despite being the lowest-ranked team at the finals, but the hosts were then brought back down to earth after being drubbed 3-0 by Uruguay.

The two nations have met six times, with Spain winning four games and the other two matches ending in draws. The last time the two teams met was in 2017, with the nations drawing 3-3.

Another top match on Sunday will observe Croatia with the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic come up against Denmark. Croatia made light work of Nigeria and Argentina then drew to Iceland to seal qualification as Group D's top team.

Croatia World Cup 2018

Denmark reached the round of 16 for the fourth time in their five appearances. Christian Eriksen and co eased past Peru then drew with Australia and France to book their place in the first knockout round.

Mexico will take on the Group E winner Brazil on Monday. Neymar and company topped their group with a 2-0 win over Serbia. While the Brazilian have not looked their best in Russia, they are unbeaten at the tournament, having drawn 1-1 with Switzerland before beating both Costa Rica and Serbia by 2-0 scorelines. 

The match will mark the third time in four tournaments that Mexico will take on a South American opponent in the last 16, having lost to Argentina in the fourth game in both 2006 and 2010.

Belgium topped Group G after registering a 1-0 victory over England, which means that they will face Japan also on Monday while England will face Colombia in the last 16, with the winner of the tie facing either Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-final.

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