The 2018 World Cup's group stage concluded Thursday, ending a two-week whirlwind of goals, VAR and dashed dreams.

Belgium defeated England 1-0 to win Group G, but both sides sent out their B-squads with an eye already on the Round of 16. While the Red Devils won the group, they may have the more difficult road moving forward.

With usual contending nations such as the Netherlands, USA, Chile and Italy at home watching, the group stage lacked intrigue at times as smaller nations didn't always seem up to the challenge.

However, the tournament should regain some drama in the Round of 16, as a couple of the matchups look like potential finals.

Most Intriguing Round of 16 Matchups

France, with stars Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, taking on Lionel Messi and Argentina seems like the obvious choice for most intriguing, as both teams had Finals ambitions heading into the tournament. But both have struggled, leading to lackluster performances.

Instead, the most intriguing Round of 16 matchup is Brazil vs. Mexico.

Brazil, led by Neymar and Philippe Coutinho, have improved every game. With Marcelo and Danilo nursing injuries, it lacks defensive reinforcements, but Brazil has the firepower to win this tournament.

Subsequently, Mexico played a large role in dismissing defending champion Germany from the group stage, playing an aggressive, up-tempo style. The attacking trio of Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano have meshed well, but the defense remains a concern following a 3-0 loss to Sweden.

Also, don't sleep on the England-Colombia matchup. If James Rodriguez is unable to play after being forced from Thursday's win over Senegal with an apparent calf injury, England will have a great chance to advance. Harry Kane would then be licking his chops at a long run on the weaker side of the bracket.

Toughest Road to Glory

It's hard to imagine a worse scenario for Mexico following the group stage. After finishing second to Sweden in Group F, El Tri drew Brazil in the Round of 16 — which is where Mexico has been defeated in each of the last six World Cups.

Should Mexico defeat Brazil, it would then likely face tournament dark horse Belgium in the quarterfinals after the Red Devils just cruised through Group G with all nine points.

If Mexico can pull off two upsets, a semifinals matchup against either France, Argentina, Portugal or Uruguay stands in their path of the Finals. So, in other words, Brazil, Belgium, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and a young, talented France squad are all possibly standing in Mexico's way.

Who will win Golden Boot?

England's Harry Kane leads the chase with five goals — though one was a complete accident. Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Ronaldo each have four goals, while Russian midfielder Denis Cheryshev and Spain's Diego Costa both have three goals.

It seems likely Kane, Lukaku, Ronaldo or Costa will claim top-scoring honors, but watch out for Belgium's Eden Hazard, currently sitting at two goals.

Should England defeat Colombia, it has a nice road to the semifinals, giving Kane a couple chances to add more goals. But Ronaldo helped lead Portugal to a 2016 Euro win, and he could get hot this summer and scorch the nets enough to win the Golden Boot and lead Portugal on a run.

Team No One Wants to Face

Sweden may not have famous striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the squad, but this chippy, well-organized unit has given opposing teams fits. Starting with a hard-fought upset over Italy in a playoff to get into the tournament, Sweden has looked tough in must-win games.

Sweden won two games to win Group F, which also featured Germany and Mexico. Its only loss was a 2-1 defeat to Germany after grabbing an early 1-0 lead and watching helplessly as German midfielder Toni Kroos scored in the game's final seconds.

While Sweden may lack front-line star power and attacking prowess, it makes up for it with great discipline and an organized back line. Pitted in the weaker side of the bracket, Sweden could continue turning skeptics into believers with a deep run.