Fifty-two games down, 11 to go: after the flurry that was the groups stage, the World Cup is approaching its business end as the round of 16 continues today. Here’s why to watch Monday’s fixtures.
Japan v Croatia, 3pm, BBC
Two teams defying expectations meet this afternoon at the Al Janoub Stadium. Croatia were written off as a team in transition from the World Cup finalists of 2018 but coasted through the group stage and have quietly amassed a nine-game unbeaten run that includes Nations League wins over France and Denmark.
Comeback specialists Japan, meanwhile, produced two of the biggest upsets at this tournament by beating Germany and Spain to finish top of Group E and knock the former out. These two teams have only met once before, in a group stage match at the 2006 World Cup, which ended goalless.
Brazil v South Korea, 7pm, ITV
Something of a David versus Goliath battle between the pre-tournament favourites and a side who snuck through on goals scored thanks to an injury-time winner in their final group game.
Brazil’s sheen has been dulled slightly by a loss to Cameroon which ended an 18-match unbeaten run stretching back to the 2021 Copa America and injuries to Neymar, although he is set to return and they remain the team to beat.
South Korea are aiming to get beyond the last 16 of the World Cup for only the second time and have lost all four previous meetings – all friendlies – including 5-1 in June.