Who will England play in the last 16? What happens if they win their group and route to the final explained

England arrived at the World Cup on the back of a dismal run of results, but all of that was forgotten when they crushed Iran 6-2 in their opening fixture.

Fans can now begin dreaming of Harry Kane holding the trophy aloft as the Three Lions banish 56 years of hurt and emulate the Lionesses by bringing football home… maybe.

Unfortunately, Gareth Southgate’s side still have a fair way to go before glory is in their sights – here’s everything you need to know.

Who could England play in the last 16?

If England top their group, they will play their second-round fixture against the runners-up in Group A at 7pm on Sunday 4 December.

The Netherlands‘ 2-0 win over Senegal in their opening fixture makes it clear that they are the team to beat, so it seems a fair assumption that Louis Van Gaal’s side will top Group A.

This means that Senegal and Ecuador will be England’s most likely opponents if they are able to come top of Group B, with Qatar‘s chances of progression looking slim.

Coming second will mean a clash with the winners of Group A – most likely The Netherlands – on Saturday 3 December, kicking off at 3pm.

Regardless of England’s second round opponents, if they are victorious the quarter-final will be played on Friday 9 December (at either 3pm or 7pm).

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Jude Bellingham of England celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Jude Bellingham starred for England against Iran on Monday (Photo: Getty Images)

If they win their group, they are in line to face France in the quarter-finals, provided the reigning champions top Group D and overcome their second round opponents, most likely Mexico or Poland.

Coming second in their group would potentially mean England play Argentina in the quarter-final, as long as they top theirs and overcome Denmark, the most likely runners-up in Group D.

Things get a little more complicated in the semi-finals, with any of the teams in the other side of the draw a potential opponent, depending on how they (and England) fared in the groups.

This means Southgate’s side could be drawn against the likes of Spain, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal or Uruguay.

And if they do make it all the way to the final, England can essentially play any side that they haven’t already beaten in the group stages for their shot at glory.

More on England Football

What is the schedule for World Cup 2022?

The 2022 final falls exactly four weeks after the tournament started on Sunday 20 November, making it the shortest tournament since the World Cup switched to its current, 32-team format in 1998.

Under this condensed format, designed to fit into the European domestic season, the group stages come to an end on Friday 2 December, with the knockout rounds proceeding as follows:

Round of 16

Saturday 3 December

  • 49: Winners of Group A vs Runners-up of Group B (Khalifa International Stadium; 3pm)
  • 50: Winners of Group C vs Runners-up of Group D (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium; 7pm)

Sunday 4 December

  • 52: Winners of Group D vs Runners-up of Group C (Al Thumama Stadium; 3pm)
  • 51: Winners of Group B vs Runners-up of Group A (Al Bayt Stadium; 7pm)

Monday 5 December

  • 53: Winners of Group E vs Runners-up of Group F (Al Janoub Stadium; 3pm)
  • 54: Winners of Group G vs Runners-up of Group H (Stadium 974; 7pm)

Tuesday 6 December

  • 55: Winners of Group F vs Runners-up of Group E (Education City Stadium; 3pm)
  • 56: Winners of Group H vs Runners-up of Group G (Lusail Iconic Stadium; 7pm)


Friday 9 December

  • 58: Winners of 53 vs Winners of 54 (Education City Stadium; 3pm)
  • 57: Winners of 49 vs Winners of 50 (Lusail Iconic Stadium; 7pm)

Saturday 10 December

  • 60: Winners of 55 vs Winners of 56 (Al Thumama Stadium; 3pm)
  • 59: Winners of 51 vs Winners of 52 (Al Bayt Stadium; 7pm)


Tuesday 13 December

  • 61: Winners of 57 vs Winners of 58 (Lusail Iconic Stadium; 7pm)

Wednesday 14 December

  • 62: Winners of 59 vs Winners of 60 (Al Bayt Stadium; 7pm)

Third-place play-off

  • Saturday 17 December (Khalifa International Stadium; 3pm)


  • Sunday 18 December (Lusail Iconic Stadium; 3pm)

Following the final, the first round of Premier League fixtures after the break will be played on Boxing Day, with seven games.

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