World Cup last 16: 7 stars primed to make an impact
This enthralling World Cup has brought about several huge talking points. In particular the rights and wrongs of using VAR. With the tournament now approaching its business end, the excitement will only increase. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
Several so-called favourites struggled to find their feet in the group stage. None more so than Germany. After picking up only one win, the defending champions have bidden farewell to Russia.
Looking ahead, the last 16 serves up some mouthwatering clashes, not least France against Argentina.
Sometimes all it takes to triumph on the big stage is a moment of individual brilliance. Such instances have occurred over the past two weeks. We look at seven players with crucial roles in ensuring their nation progresses to the quarter-finals.
The Portuguese skipper is at it again in the World Cup. Ronaldo has scored four times already, including a sublime hat-trick against Spain. That performance meant he became the competition's oldest player ever to score three goals in a match.
The 32-year-old is showing no sign of slowing down. He continues to torment defences regularly. The Real Madrid frontman averaged fives shots per game during the group - topping all other strikers.
No World Cup team is quite as one dimensional as Portugal. Their strategy is simple: ping the ball to Ronaldo and hope for the best. Not that one can pick fault since their talisman rarely disappoints.
Fernando Santos' men take on Uruguay in the last 16. They will rely on Ronaldo's goals to progress.
The French midfielder's performance for both club and country tend to come under much scrutiny. However, Pogba has no doubt been superb in Russia so far.
Playing alongside the tenacious N'Golo Kante, Pogba has risen to the occasion. His powerful, surging runs and sprayed passes helped France top Group C. He also got on the scoresheet, hitting the winner against Australia.
Pogba can single-handedly drive his team forward when in the mood. Having rested him in the last match, Les Bleus hope he finds top form in the titanic clash against Argentina.
The Dane has arguably been the top goalkeeper in Russia. Schmeichel is a reliable presence in between the sticks.
The 31-year-old made 12 saves in the group stage. Perhaps his most critical stop came during the 1-1 draw with Australia, a game Denmark couldn't afford to lose.
Age Hareide's side don't score many goals. In fact, they are the lowest scorers among the last 16, having struck only two times so far. That highlights Schmeichel's importance.
In the next round, Denmark must keep tight at the back against Croatia to progress any further. The Croats are in free-scoring form, hitting seven goals in the group. They will expect to advance. Can Schmeichel prevent them?
Uruguay's defence is yet to be breached in this World Cup. It's largely down to the fine partnership between captain Diego Godin and youngster Jose Gimenez. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the latter has been the more impressive.
Gimenez missed La Celeste's last game due to a thigh injury. He was excellent in the two matches prior, averaging over five interceptions and four clearances. As important as his defensive contribution has been, the 23-year-old's finest moment was heading the late winner to defeat Egypt 1-0.
Uruguay's 3-0 victory over Russia secured top spot in the group. Next up is Portugal. Although the European champions often struggle to blitz teams, they have Ronaldo. Gimenez must remain vigilant at all times.
The Mexican sensation put up a good showing in the group stage. Lozano will be intent on replicating such form when the knockouts commence.
The 22-year-old can be a real live wire. Just ask Germany. His most impressive attribute is the sheer confidence he excludes when in possession. Not only ever-willing to take on defenders and shoot at goal, he's also excellent from set-plays.
Mexico collide with Brazil for a quarter-final place. The Selecao, although favourites to advance, are yet to be tested defensively. With Lozano in top form, El Tri can cause an upset.
It's been a familiar story for Spain over the past two weeks: porous at the back yet electric going forward at times. One Spaniard earning his keep is Isco.
The 26-year-old has developed a telepathic understanding with Andres Iniesta. Isco has been at the heart of everything good about La Roja. He scored in the group's decider against Morocco, earning the man of the match award.
When comparing close control and executing intricate passes, very few players match Isco. In the last three contests, he averaged around 100 passes per game with an astounding 93% accuracy.
Spain face Russia in the last 16. One would think they should progress with ease, but it might prove more difficult. The Russians have exceeded expectations. Isco will no doubt be gunning for them.
Colombia has failed to impress in this World Cup. Despite finishing as group winners, the South Americans haven't hit the heights expected.
James Rodriguez is failing to light up Russia in the same way he did Brazil four years ago. Radamel Falcao isn't as reliable as he once was. That leaves Cuadrado.
Truth be told, the winger himself has underwhelmed slightly. There have been periods in games where he was completely anonymous. Still, his performance in the win over Poland proves he can deliver when it matters most.
Colombia come up against England in the first knockout round. The Three Lions have had it easy thus far. Los Cafeteros will provide a sterner test. With Rodriguez struggling for form and fitness, the onus is on Cuadrado to lift his country.