Just four teams are left standing in Qatar. Pre-tournament favourites Brazil have been forced to head home after a shock defeat to Croatia on penalties, joined by the Netherlands, England and Portugal as four heavyweights of World football were packing their bags.
It comes as Morocco became the first African side to ever make the semi-finals of a World Cup, where they will be up against France in a mammoth clash. In the other semi-final, Lionel Messi will continue his dream of World Cup glory up against last tournament’s finalists Croatia, led by Luka Modric’s swansong.
As expected, then, the team of the quarter-finals is largely made up of stars from the victorious nations, though there are some honourable mentions to those on the plane home.
GK: Dominik Livakovic (Croatia)
Croatia squeezed past Brazil on penalties to reach a second consecutive semi-final at the World Cup, but had goalkeeper Livakovic to thank for the most part. He narrowly missed out on our team of the round of 16, despite saving three penalties in the shoot out, but outdid himself this time, with 11 saves to keep the Selecao down to just one goal before helping his side through once more on penalties.
RB: Josip Juranovic (Croatia)
No one expected to see a Celtic player anywhere near this stage of the competition, but Juranovic had one of the best games of his career as he helped keep Vinicius Jr quiet while also getting forward for his side, and was probably the best outfield player on the pitch.
CB: Jawed El Yamiq (Morocco)
Making his first start of the tournament thanks to injury to Nayef Aguerd, there were concerns that he may be a weak leak for Morocco as they looked to make history. However, he was excellent, with the 30-year-old making two blocks and a massive 15 clearances to help the Atlas Lions ensure African representation in the semi-final for the first time in World Cup.
CB: Dejan Lovren (Croatia)
It has been some tournament for veteran defenders, and Dejan Lovren continues to impress at the heart of Croatia’s defence as he partners the exciting talent of Josko Gvardiol.
The former Liverpool man made 10 clearances and won all 5 of his duels against the Selecao to help his side book their place in the World Cup semi final for a second consecutive tournament, and proved that even at 33 years-old he is still capable of outstanding performances on the World Stage.
LB: Yahia Attiyat Allah (Morocco)
Like with El-Yamiq, there was fear that the absence of Noussair Mazraoui could be damaging for Morocco, but in fact it was the opposite, with Attiyat-Allah turning in an excellent performance from left-back.
He grabbed the assist for En Nesyri’s winner, while he was also Morocco’s most creative player and did more than his fair share of defending too.
CM: Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia)
The often overlooked Workhorse of Croatia’s lauded midfield trio, Marcelo Brozovic was excellent against Brazil in front of his defence. Tasked with keeping Neymar quiet, he managed to do so to great effect for the most part, while he also won 3 tackles and 11 duels in an all-round top defensive performance.
CM: Antoine Griezmann (France)
While all of the focus ahead of the game was on Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann delivered another top performance as he helped France beat England. Mr Consistent for Les Blues, he came up with two assists to knock the Three Lions out, and provided the moments of quality that ultimately separated the two sides.
CM: Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
Another game, another top performance from Amrabat in the heart of midfield for the Atlas Lions. The central midfielder continues to shine for the Atlas Lions as they upset the odds, and was a huge part of their historic success over Portugal to reach the semi-finals.
RW: Bukayo Saka (England)
Even though England were knocked out, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka continued to star for the Three Lions. The winger was a threat against France all evening and won the first of England’s two penalties, earning him the highest rating on the England side from French paper L’Equipe in the process.
ST: Wout Weghorst (Netherlands)
Burnley will be wondering where this Weghorst was for most of last season, as the Netherlands striker came off the bench to grab two goals and pull the Netherlands back into the tie before they were knocked out on penalties.
His late free-kick was genius, and was the latest-ever knockout goal in World Cup history, and should have counted for so much more.
LW: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Another top performance from Argentina’s no.10 was almost undone by a late Netherlands barrage, but Messi’s pass for the first Argentina goal was one that few would have seen, and even fewer would have executed. While his post-match antics will be scrutinised, he did most of his talking on the pitch once more.