A varied Tuesday morning Mailbox, with thoughts on the England U21s, a Sterling ruse, Kane realism, Wenger coaching youth and enjoying the charity match...
As it's the international break, the Spanish Thing goes Stateside for a week. The defending may be suspect, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a retirement home...
The round of 16 may have gone with the form book in terms of results, with each of the eight group winners progressing to the quarter-finals, but it was still full of surprises, with all of the tournament favourites taken right to the wire. Of eight matches five were forced into extra-time, two to penalties and just the one was separated by more than a single goal.
In this piece WhoScored.com look at the top rated XI to have been eliminated from the competition thus far, with players having to have appeared at least three times to this point in order to qualify.
Tim Howard (USA) - 7.87 WhoScored.com rating
Everton number one Howard unsurprisingly makes the cut following his heroic display against Belgium, earning himself a hashtag on Twitter courtesy of a tournament-high 15 saves against the Red Devils. It was enough to earn the experienced shot stopper a perfect match rating of 10 from WhoScored.com - only the second of the competition behind Oscar's masterful opening night performance against Croatia - and took his average for the tournament to 7.87.
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast) - 7.65 rating
Having expressed a desire to make the next step in his career after a superb campaign with Toulouse in Ligue 1, Aurier certainly did his chances of earning a move this summer no harm despite Ivory Coast's group stage exit. The youngster started all three games at right-back, picking up 2 assists and a man of the match award against Japan, with his average rating the best in the squad by a distance. Aurier made at least 3 more interceptions than any other teammate (9) as well as completing the most accurate crosses at the other end (4).
Kenneth Omeruo (Nigeria) - 7.44 rating
If any Chelsea fans were keeping a watchful eye over their young defender Omeruo, who spent the last half of the season on loan at Middlesbrough, they'd likely have been suitably impressed. The centre-half was composed throughout Nigeria's 4-game campaign, playing with a maturity beyond his 20 years. Emerging as the Super Eagles top rated player according to WhoScored.com, Omeruo won the most aerial duels for his side (12), while no teammate made more interceptions (11).
Diego Godin (Uruguay) - 7.43 rating
It could have been a very different campaign for Uruguay had it not been for Godin. The centre-back could easily have been sent off against England but avoided a second yellow to help ensure the Three Lions early exit before scoring a crucial late winner - he's made a habit of that - against Italy to set up a round of 16 clash with Colombia. The Uruguay captain led by example, winning more aerial duels (15) and interceptions (11) than any teammate.
Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland) - 8.11 rating
Another player to carry his excellent club form onto the international stage was Rodriguez, whose impressive performances at left-back weren't enough to see the Swiss upset the odds against Argentina. The 21-year-old has been attracting interest across Europe and displayed exactly why, picking up 2 assists and averaging an exceptional 5 tackles per game - only Oscar and Mascherano (both 21) have produced more in total at the World Cup so far.
Ivan Perisic (Croatia) - 7.59 rating
Croatia may have fallen at the first hurdle but they still displayed an impressive attacking threat at times, none more so than Perisic. In three appearances the winger scored twice and registered an assist, mustering 11 shots at goal in total. The Wolfsburg wide man also won 5 aerial duels and completed 5 dribbles, proving an effective threat on the counter on the Croatian right-flank.
Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) - 8.20 rating
It might not have panned out the way Bosnia & Herzegovina hoped in their debut World Cup finals, exiting at the group stages, but they certainly gave it a good go, with playmaker Pjanic at the centre of things. No player created more chances for teammates in the group stages than the Roma midfielder (12), with the 24-year-old perhaps warranting more than his one assist. He also scored in the dead rubber with Iran and completed an impressive 13 successful dribbles in the middle of the park.
Keisuke Honda (Japan) - 7.48 rating
Japan may well have a number of creative talents within their side but they still look to their poster boy Honda to pull the strings, forcing the likes of Kagawa and Okazaki into more peripheral roles at international level. The 28-year-old stepped up to the plate to lead the way for the side in terms of shots (10), key passes (7) and dribbles (6), but it wasn't enough to see Japan progress to the round of 16.
Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland) - 7.71 rating
He may have started the campaign relatively quietly but versatile Bayern Munich attacker Shaqiri came to life in Switzerland's final group game, netting a hat-trick - one of only 2 in the tournament so far - against an admittedly weak Honduras outfit. He again looked the biggest attacking threat in defeat to Argentina but was unable to prevent the narrow, extra-time defeat, though only Lionel Messi has created more chances in the tournament to date (17).
Alexis Sanchez (Chile) - 8.17 rating
The star of the show for a Chile side that again won over the neutrals at this World Cup having been such a breath of fresh air in South Africa four years ago, Sanchez's campaign ended in the heartache of a penalty miss. It was a cruel outcome for a player that had shone so brightly throughout the tournament, netting twice and picking up an assist as the South Americans fell short of a quarter-final berth. Only the Argentine pairing of Messi and Di Maria have completed more dribbles than the Barca-man (22) and it's no coincidence that no player was fouled more times than the apparent Liverpool target (24).
Enner Valencia (Ecuador) - 7.50 rating
If there was an award for the 'Best Newcomer' at a World Cup then Valencia's name would certainly have been in the hat this time around, with the Ecuador forward a relative unknown prior to the tournament. He scored 3 times from just 8 shots in an eventually unfruitful group phase for the South Americans, as well as completing 7 dribbles to attract admiring glances from a number of clubs across Europe.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.