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Which team has the hardest path to 2022 World Cup final?

Here’s a look at which teams might have to run the gauntlet in the knockout bracket.

Wales v England: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

The group stage has concluded and the round of 16 bracket is set for the 2022 World Cup. Which team has the hardest path to the final? Several nations stand out when looking at the bracket; however, two teams have it worse than the others. We’ll break it down below.

Hardest path to 2022 World Cup final

Croatia were able to breath a sigh of relief after keeping Belgium off the scoreboard in the final match of Group F. This ultimately put Croatia through to the round of 16. However, the 2018 World Cup runner-ups now have a mountain to climb if they want to return to the final. Croatia have a tricky matchup against Japan, a nation that earned outright victories against Germany and Spain in the group stage. If Croatia advance to the quarterfinals, that sets up a potential meeting with the 2022 World Cup favorites Brazil.

England fell one match short of the 2018 World Cup final. In fact, the “Three Lions” haven’t reached the World Cup final since they were crowned champions in 1966. England have enough talent to make a run, but the path is tricky this time around. The British will face Senegal in the round of 16, a matchup that could be tougher than it seems on the surface. If England advance to the quarterfinals (-390 odds via DraftKings Sportsbook), there’s a good chance the 2018 World Cup Champions — France — will be waiting. Whoever advances from that match will likely face either Spain or Portugal in the semifinal. Looking at all of that, England have far from an ideal path to the title.