Which eight teams will qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup?
The World Cup last-16 ties begin on Saturday, when Brazil play Chile and Uruguay play Colombia. Which eight teams will win?
All the big teams have been kept apart in this round as they were either group winners or eliminated at the group stage.
Brazil v Chile (Saturday, June 28, 5pm BST)
The hosts versus the team-that-sent-Spain-home. Chile are not entirely a surprise package but Brazilian fans will be happy that their team has avoided the Dutch or the Spanish.
However, the hosts have yet to really scare anyone in this tournament so far. They weren’t convincing when defending against both Croatia and Cameroon and they failed to beat Mexico.
Neymar has scored 57% of Brazil’s goals and been involved in the majority of their attacks in this tournament. If Chile are to reach the quarter-finals they need to starve the Barcelona forward from any service. Remember their domination of the Spanish midfield? A repeat performance could provide the shock of the tournament.
On the other hand, while Chile looked impressive in their 2-0 win over Spain, the defeat to the Netherlands would have bothered them and Brazil could take the same counter-attacking approach. Alexis Sánchez is the key for Chile going forward, whilst more has been expected from Arturo Vidal. Defensively they’ve worked very well as a team with Gary Medel being a key part of it.
Should be a close match that I don’t see being an easy victory for Brazil as the odds perhaps suggest.
Prediction: Brazil 2-1 Chile.
Colombia v Uruguay (Saturday, June 28, 9pm BST)
Colombia have been one of the most exciting countries in the tournament so far and one of the most well-supported too. The South Americans scored 9 goals on their way to picking up 9 points in the group stage.
James Rodríguez has been one of the stars of the tournament and has scored in every game for Colombia so far, including his cheeky lob against Japan in their last game.
While we were backing Uruguay to go through to at least the quarters, Luis Suarez’s suspension and the poor Suarez-less performance in their opening game doesn’t bode well for the South Americans. Uruguay have only had 10 shots on target in their first three matches, and Suarez scored half of their 4 goals.
Prediction: Colombia to win 2-0.
Netherlands v Mexico (Sunday, June 29, 5pm BST)
The Netherlands impressed in winning Group B and their 2-0 victory over Chile showed that they can win without RvP’s goals. The United striker is well-rested after suspension whilst Arjen Robben has arguably been the player of the tournament to this point.
Mexico have tactically sound in this tournament, allowing 1 shot on target by Cameroon, drawing 0-0 with Brazil and then thrashing Croatia 3-1.
Louis van Gaal’s side may need to be patient against the Central Americans but the lack of attacks Mexico made against Brazil points to a Dutch win and Netherlands marching unhindered into the quarters.
Prediction: Netherlands to win 3-1.
Costa Rica v Greece (Sunday, June 29, 9pm BST)
Two of the surprises of the tournament so far sees Costa Rica and Greece do battle for a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Costa Rica have been tactically sound, keeping clean sheets in their last two group games after conceding a penalty in the first.
Greece haven’t been bad tactically either after conceding a very early goal on their way to a 3-0 defeat against Colombia to start their World Cup. Costa Rica’s momentum may be too big of a challenge for the Greeks to digest.
Prediction: Costa Rica to win 1-0.
France v Nigeria (Monday, June 30, 5pm BST)
Unimpressive in their 0-0 draw against 10-man Ecuador in their final group game, France have otherwise been a strong contender to win the World Cup for a second time.
Didier Deschamps’ side have yet to fall behind in this tournament with the only 2 goals conceded coming after they had a 5-0 lead over Switzerland late on.
Nigeria impressed against Bosnia and Herzegovina and put up a good showing in defeat to Argentina, the only nation who have scored against Vincent Emyeama in Brazil 2014.
France’s odds are much shorter than I would have liked but I think they will step it up and progress to the quarter-finals.
Prediction: France to win 2-1.
Germany v Algeria (Monday, June 30, 9pm BST)
The 2014 World Cup favourites will fancy their chances against Algeria who have reached the second round for the first time in their history.
Germany didn’t allow USA many chances at all in their last game and pace has been the most troubling weapon against Joachim Löw’s side whom looked very good going forward.
The Europeans are good at defending set pieces which has been one of Algeria’s biggest weapons in this tournament. Thomas Müller is looking to win his second Golden Boot in this tournament and his movement should cause Algeria too many problems.
Prediction: Germany to win 3-0.
Argentina v Switzerland (Tuesday, July 1, 5pm BST)
We’re still waiting for their breakout performance in this World Cup after Lionel Messi has dragged Argentina to three one-goal victories.
Xherdan Shaqiri looked a handful against Honduras in their last group game in scoring a hat-trick and Switzerland could cause the South Americans problems at the back as they have looked weak defensively.
The odds suggest a comfortable Argentina win and you’d expect them to go through.
Prediction: Argentina 4-1 Switzerland.
Belgium v USA (Tuesday, July 1, 9pm BST)
Belgium have got the job done in the second half of all three of their group games which they won by a single goal.
USA don’t appear to have any special players on the pitch but as a team they’re working great in denying the opponents too many opportunities. I do think they tire out more than most teams in the second half though despite their late winner vs Ghana.
Eden Hazard has the potential to win this game in the second half, whilst the pacey Divock Origi could be a useful second half substitution.
Prediction: USA to win 3-2.
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