The upsets continued in the quarterfinals of the World Cup as two powers fell in the round of 16.
Pre-tournament favorites Brazil were left in the throes of a shoot-out defeat by Croatia, whose hopes of qualifying for a second consecutive final are still alive.
Far greater than that upset, however, was Morocco who followed up their stunning victory over Spain by ending Iberian involvement in the tournament with a shock defeat by Portugal, sending Cristiano Ronaldo out of perhaps his last World Cup in tears.
France and Argentina came close to upsetting against England and the Netherlands respectively and are due in the final.
But will these expectations be met?
Stats Perform’s AI model has been updated to provide the latest prediction on who will lift the trophy at Lusail Stadium on December 18th.
Let’s take a look at the results…
FAVORITES: Argentina (40.6%)
Has Lionel Messi’s time finally come? The events on the field and the numbers suggest that Argentina’s greatest player is likely to add the finishing touches to his resume in what will probably be his last World Cup.
Albiceleste were able to come through dramatically handing a two-goal lead to the Netherlands to prevail on penalties and book their place in the semi-finals.
With Brazil failing to do so and losing a successful semi-final to their arch-rivals, Argentina’s path to a first title since 1986 is presumably much easier, and their odds reflect that.
Argentina has a 67.2% chance of reaching the final and a 40.6% chance of taking third place in the World Cup.
However, as they demonstrated by eliminating Brazil, Croatia is likely to make things much more difficult than the model indicates.
2. France (35.2%)
The defending champions were less than convincing in knocking out England to keep alive their hopes of retaining the trophy, needing a missed penalty from Harry Kane to prevent the quarter-final from going to extra time.
Having passed that ordeal, France have the best odds of progressing to the final, with Les Bleus having a 69% chance of beating Morocco in the semis.
However, with their percentage chance of winning the tournament almost five points behind Argentina’s, it is clear that Messi and his companions are considered the stronger team.
France won their last meeting with Argentina at the World Cup, beating them 4-2 in the round of 16 in 2018 on their way to glory in Russia.
3. Croatia (14%)
The World Cup penalty kings are on the verge of a second successive final, but the model expects a clash with Argentina to be a step too far for Croatia.
Croatia have a 32.8% chance of overcoming Lionel Scaloni’s side and, given a 14% chance of ending their bid for a first world title, there is little confidence they can sustain a potential shock victory in semifinal by beating France.
However, Zlatko Dalic’s men have a habit of proving them wrong.
And they also knocked out Argentina in 2018, winning 3-0 in their second group stage match. This last meeting will almost certainly be much less routine.
4. Morocco (10.1%)
The Atlas Lions are the latest surprise of the World Cup, becoming the first African nation in history to reach the semi-finals.
Whatever happens now, they can look back on that amazing achievement with great pride.
A place in the third place play-off looks more likely than a place in the final. Morocco have a 31% chance of stunning the defending champions, according to the model, with their odds of winning just over 10%.
After keeping clean sheets against Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, Morocco are hoping their defensive solidity can take them to a place in the final no one thought possible.