The World Cup of surprises in the first phase with historical teams such as Germany, Belgium or Uruguay eliminated and with countries from the five continents in the round of 16 for the first time in history. In this edition, the increase in competitiveness that is taking place in world football has become clear.
Because three AFC teams (Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea) have gone through to the knockout rounds, a record for the Asian confederation that up to now had achieved a maximum of two representatives in this phase of the competition, in 2002 and 2010. It is also a notable feat that, for the second time (the first was in 2014), two teams from Africa (Senegal and Morocco) have qualified for the round of 16.
"The result of the group stage demonstrates the extent to which many more countries have acquired the necessary tools to compete at the highest level," said Arsène Wenger, FIFA's Director of World Football Development. "This progress is the result of better preparation. and opponent analysis, which in turn responds to more equal access to technology.This is a development in line with the work FIFA is doing to increase the competitiveness of football around the world."