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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Round of 16 Difficulty Table

The MD-4 roster is open, so let’s start making our infinite transfers!

Kylian Mbappe - France - Group D - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Shout out from Kylian Mbappe |
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Already planning your transfers for the Round of 16? Well our MD-4 rosters are now open, so you should be! Here’s a look at the match-ups.

Emotions ran high on the last match-day of the group stage. Thirteen teams jubilantly celebrated as they joined France, Portugal and Brazil in the knockouts, but the rest shed tears over missed opportunities as they bowed out of the tournament and flew home.

Use the table and bracket below to target lopsided R-16 matches that could promise extra goals and more-likely clean sheets for the stronger team. Also check out Dhivakhar’s Player Picks for the Round of 16.

Additionally, the following fantasy resources are worth revisiting as well:

NMA Fantasy Mini League:

League code: K2QVR5ZB

Finally, for fun facts, daily match reviews, group stage rankings, top goal-scorers / providers, fantasy best XI, and the best five players in each position every week, bookmark our NMA World Cup Stream, which we refresh daily with updated info.

Round of 16 Matches

Netherlands vs USA

Netherlands finished 1st in Group A, one of the weaker groups. The Oranje have been able to score when needed except against Senegal, which indicates that they may not be able to score against an organised team. They scored five goals in two other games while USA scored only two.

USA on the other hand kept two clean sheets and conceded only one goal in the one other match. This may be due to the difference in the opponents the US faced. The difference in quality probably favors of Netherlands to qualify to the quarter-finals, but if Team USA can frustrate the Dutch as much as they frustrated the English, then anything could happen in a penalty shootout after a drab (but tense) scoreless match.


England vs Senegal

England won Group B over USA, Iran and Wales. The English slowed in the second match against USA. They scored nine goals in the other two matches, but none against the US.

Senegal on the other hand lost the first match against Netherlands even though the Africans looked like the team in control. They went on to score five goals and concede two in consecutive wins over Qatar and Ecuador. If England’s match against USA is any indication, then Senegal may have a better shot than what the odds suggest to cause yet another major World Cup upset.


Argentina vs Australia

Both Argentina and Australia had similar group stage trajectories. Each lost in MD-1 (to Saudi Arabia and France respectively). Then each won two consecutive victories in MD-2 & MD-3. Argentina defeated Mexico and Poland 2-0 exhibiting World class team organization. Australia defeated Denmark and Tunisia 1-0 by playing 10 men behind the ball to nick victories on the counterattack. There is no comparison between Argentina's attack and the teams Australia defeated, so this match should not trouble the South American champions... Unless they forget the harsh lesson taught by Saudi Arabia.


France vs Poland

France is one of three teams that secured qualification in MD-2, so I will not put much stock in the loss to Tunisia in MD-3. The French team rotated heavily due to injuries and forward-thinking.

The Poles played like the Australians, but they ultimately failed to keep Argentina from scoring, so the same should apply in the Round of 16. If the first-team players are fully fit and ready, then France should pass by Poland without much trouble, but I have major doubts for France's chances in the quarterfinals and (if they get that far) the semifinals.


Japan vs Croatia

This one is interesting because, well, have these two nations even met before? Japan is a bit inscrutable, and Croatia is underperforming. Winning the “Group of Death” is no simple feat, and this should count as a major accomplishment for Japan despite the loss to Costa Rica.

Croatia on the other hand defeated only Canada and came close to conceding on several occasions against Belgium. There is always that magic that we saw against Canada, so the Croats on a good day can surprise anyone (and that magic took them to the final in 2018).

This is a highly unpredictable affair that could go either way. It will be Japanese flair versus Croatia's grit and experience.


Morocco vs Spain

Spain started off the World Cup with a 7-0 hammering of Costa Rica but then trailed off to draw with Germany and then fall to the Japanese on MD-3, which shows that it may have been Costa Rica's shortcomings and not Spain's attack that made the difference in that match.

Morocco conceded just one goal in the group stage, an unfortunate own-goal after keeping clean sheets against Belgium and Croatia. Morocco’s defensive midfield is as good as it gets, and they are strong on the counter with big names that can make a difference.

Spain may have the upper hand in theory but Morocco will not be an easy opponent.


Brazil vs Korea Republic

Among yesterday’s still-alive teams (along with Uruguay and Ghana), Korea had the lowest odds to qualify, yet they pulled off another World Cup 2022 upset by defeating Portugal 2-1 to take second place from Uruguay. Brazil, on the other hand, qualified comfortably by defeating Serbia and Switzerland and keeping two clean sheets in the process. This matchup may be one to focus on considering Brazil was able to rotate its squad on MD-3. Any result other than an easy win for Brazil will be a huge surprise.


Portugal vs Switzerland

Portugal was one three teams to qualify after playing its first two matches. They lost the last match 1-2 against South Korea in one of the most dramatic nights of the World Cup.

Switzerland struggled against Cameroon, Brazil and Serbia but came out on top twice. This may not be an easy tie for Ronaldo’s Portugal, but the quality in Portugal’s attack should prove overwhelming for the Swiss.

Round of 16 Difficulty Tables

This will be a subjective difficulty table since FIFA rankings may not sufficiently differentiate between teams in the Round of 16. The color code is as follows:

  • Green: A simple match that should be won with little trouble.
  • Yellow: The match is winnable but not straightforward.
  • Orange: The match is against a tough team. A win would be unlikely.
  • Red: An extremely difficult opponent. The team is expected to lose.

So we want to lean toward green teams, which we’re now allowed to load to the tune of four per. However, many fantasy game factors continue: We want keepers from two different days, and we want reliable bench players late in the round. On top of that, there are stars who will deliver big in big games, even when they lose.

And finally, this seems to be a year of upsets, and we do get four free transfers going into the quarters, so a little diversification is warranted.

And if you have a chip left, then your strategy can take a different line from the vanilla advice given here.

World Cup Qatar 2022 Brackets


How is your R16 roster shaping up? What strategy are you pursuing? Are you playing a chip (booster)? Please log in and tell us what’s on your mind!