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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

World Cup 2018: Day 16 updates - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo prepare for second round action

It is the first non-action day at the 2018 tournament with the group stages over. The focus is on the last 16 now, with the first games on Saturday being France v Argentina (6pm) and Uruguay v Portugal (10pm)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are preparing for their second-round-game with Uruguay on Saturday. Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are preparing for their second-round-game with Uruguay on Saturday. Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

4.45pm - Messi and Argentina train

Argentina were four minutes from going out of the World Cup on Tuesday. But they survived and reached the second round.

Lionel Messi and his teammates trained on Friday ahead of their second round clash with France on Saturday.

You have to go back to 2002 for the last time Argentina did not at least reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup so the pressure is well and truly on them.

Check out the gallery below of their training.

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3.25pm - Arab sides must 'work harder'

No Arab sides in the last 16 and Tunisia manager Nahib Maaloul is not convinced things will improve easily.

He said: “We have four Arab teams that are not yet at the required level for the tournament, they still have to work harder and improve their performances. In order to do that, we need to have more of our players in professional leagues so they can learn and grow.

“I don’t think we have high-quality performance, we need to change our lifestyle because it is not in line with high-level football, we need to change the way we train. We need two more generations to reach [the top] level of performance in terms of fitness and physical strength. We are far from the required level.”

You can read the story from John McAuley here.

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12.30pm - Predictions time: End of the line for Messi as Portugal and Ronaldo win

Bad news. We could not afford Achilles the Russian cat to come in and do our predictions for the last 16. Key demands on litter tray access that just were not feasible meant the Moscow moggy was unavailable.

So, you have to put up with sports editor Graham Caygill's last 16 predictions instead.

He is forecasting that it is the end of the line for Argentina and Lionel Messi, but that Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo march on, while Brazil will also be among those to reach the quarter-finals.

You can read his full predictions here.

The National are predicting Lionel Messi and Argentina will be knocked out of the World Cup by France. Juan Mabromata / AFP
The National are predicting Lionel Messi and Argentina will be knocked out of the World Cup by France. Juan Mabromata / AFP

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10.30am - The last 16, who is playing who

We are now at the knockout stages. For a quick guide at who plays who, and how they got here, check out our interactive wall chart below.

Interactive Wall Chart

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9.15am - So, be brave everyone. We knew this day would come. That is right. It is a day with no live football. The group stages are over and we are now at the last 16 stages.

There is a 24-hour break, largely for everyone to get their breath back, before the second round kicks off on Saturday.

It will still be a busy day and The National will keep you informed on all the major updates during the day.

France v Argentina and Uruguay v Portugal are Saturday's games and all four teams will train and have news conferences on Friday.

We will have updates on the draw for the last 16 and how things are now looking, and other news too.

But firstly, to recap this is the draw:

Saturday

France v Argentina (6pm)

Uruguay v Portugal (10pm)

Sunday

Spain v Russia (6pm)

Croatia v Denmark (10pm)

Monday

Brazil v Mexico (6pm)

Belgium v Japan (10pm)

Tuesday

Sweden v Switzerland (6pm)

Colombia v England (10pm)

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Read more

John McAuley's World Cup diary: Fans in Russia have been amazing - and so has Google Translate

WATCH: Lionel Messi sits out training as Argentina prepare for clash with France

Podcast: Messi finally comes through as World Cup knockout stages take shape