In the round of 16 more records fell, some bringing tears of joy and others bringing tears of depression to their holders.
QATAR 2022: The most important stats from the 2022 World Cup so far
All the numbers from the World Cup that actually matter
No one can understand this more than Spain who gained the unenviable honour of becoming the first team in World Cup history to lose four penalty shootouts when they were shocked out of the 2022 World Cup on penalties against Morocco.
Spain (2002, 2018, 2022) are also one of only three countries to lose three consecutive penalty shootouts at the World Cup, joining England (1990, 1998, 2006) and Italy (1990, 1994, 1998) who also lost back-to-back shootouts without winning any in between.
As if those weren’t bad enough, Spain’s 77% possession against was the second-highest in the World Cup knockout stages since 1966. The highest being Spain’s 79% possession against Russia in the 2018 round of 16. Interestingly, they lost both ties.
It was not all bad for Spain in the records department, as their teenage sensation Pablo Gavi became the youngest player since Pele in 1958 to start in the knockout stage of the World Cup aged just 18 years and 123 days.
Their opponents Morocco also entered the record books, becoming the fourth African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals and the first to do so while being managed by an African coach.
The Atlas Lions’ third win of the tournament was the seventh at the World Cup by an African team at this edition, which is almost double the continent's next-best tally for wins (4 - in 2002 and 2010).
Overall, the 2022 World Cup’s round of 16 was electrifying and served up as much entertainment as any other round of 16 that you might remember. Serving up a total of 28 goals excluding penalties which is the most at any tournament since the round of 16 was introduced in 1986.
Morocco’s inspired performance against Spain earned them a date with Portugal in the quarterfinals, who have some record-breakers and top performers in their ranks as well.
Porto’s 39-year-old defender Pepe became the oldest player to score in the World Cup knockout stage, beating Roger Milla’s record from 1990. Despite this astounding record set, he was not the main talking point as Portugal beat Switzerland.
All the headlines were stolen by 21-year-old Benfica forward Goncalo Ramos who scored a sensational hattrick, becoming the first player to score a hattrick on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose did so in an 8-0 drubbing of Saudi Arabia in 2002.
Ramos’ three goals came from an xG of only 1.5, meaning that he overperformed his expected goals by 1.5 in just one night. As incredible as that is, Ramos is only the sixth-highest in xG overperformance in the 2022 World Cup.
At the top of that list is the Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo who has also scored three goals, but from only 0.6xG, an incredible overperformance of +2.7.
He is followed closely by England and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka who has overperformed by +2.4 and Kylian Mbappe in third place with 5 goals from an xG of 2.7 and an overperformance of +2.3.
Mbappe leads both the charts for goals and expected goals at the World Cup, while his France teammate Antoine Griezmann is top of the expected assists (xA) chart.
Unlike Mbappe, Griezmann’s expected tally doesn’t tally with the actual outcomes, as he has registered only one assist from an xA of 2.4.
Bruno Fernandes and Harry Kane both top the assists chart with 3 assists each, and Fernandes’ five-goal contributions at the 2022 World are the most by a Portuguese player since 1966 when Esuebio and Jose Torres had 10 and six goal contributions respectively.
Spain's obsession with possession means that the top three passers in the World Cup so far are Spanish, and they have four players in the top 10 passers at the World Cup.
Rodri's 676 passes outrank every other player at the World Cup, 250 more than the next-best Pedri (426 passes) and more than double the 10th-highest, Aurelin Tchouameni (306 passes).
One of the biggest criticisms of Spain was that they maintained a lot of sterile possession and it's worth noting that despite having the most frequent passers, they do not have the most frequent passers into the penalty area.
In fact, the Spanish player with the most passes into the penalty area, Dani Olmo is only eighth in the ranking of players with the most passes into the penalty area.
Argentina's Lionel Messi tops that particular statistic and has also played the most progressive passes in the World Cup (34). He has also created the most chances at the World Cup (10).