FIFA World Cup 2014 Round of 16 Predictions
The group stage games of arguably the best World Cup ever are now done and dusted. The field has now been narrowed down to 16 teams who will compete in the round of 16 or the pre-quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
This is where it is gets real serious because there will be no second chances. Every match from this point onwards will be a knockout encounter so the pressure to deliver will be immense. The round of 16 has thrown up some really intriguing clashes and it will be really fascinating to see who goes on to the last eight.
Let’s take a look at the eight games coming up and see who makes it to the quarterfinals.
1-Brazil vs Chile
Arguably the biggest and the toughest game of the second round. The two South American giants are looking seriously good in the tournament. Brazil topped their group by beating Croatia and Cameroon while they drew with Mexico. Chile on the other hand beat Australia and World Champions Spain but came up short against the Netherlands in what was a very tough group.
Brazil haven’t really set the tournament on fire as yet but the good thing from their point of view is that Neymar is in pretty good form. Chile have been quite decent as well. They beat Spain and Australia quite comfortably and gave the Dutch a spirited fight. Their main attacking threat Alexis Sanchez has been one of the players of the tournament too.
Now who goes through out of these two sides is the big question. Well it is a 50-50 call in our opinion but Brazil might just edge this game. A lot of goals were scored in the group stage but expect the games to be a bit more tactical from this point onwards. This is because the margin of error is close to non-existent and that is where we think Brazil have an edge. Chile are a very good expansive team but Brazil are more functional and tactical which might just tip the balance in their favor.
Brazil to advance, but only just.
2-Colombia vs Uruguay
This is another all South American clash between two sides who know each other inside out. Colombia have been one of the teams of the World Cup so far. They have lit up the tournament with their free flowing attacking play. They topped their group ahead of Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan beating all three times on their way to scoring 9 goals and conceding only two.
Uruguay on the other hand have had an interesting campaign so far. They were in Group D alongside England, Italy and the surprise package Costa Rica. They lost to Costa Rica 3-1 in their opening game but their talisman Luis Suarez returned in their second game against England and scored twice to win the game for his country. Uruguay then beat Italy in a controversial game to qualify for the round of 16. Italy had a man sent off after a straight red card which looked harsh. Then Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini just before Uruguay scored their winning goal. No action was taken by the referee during the game but FIFA has now banned Suarez for a long time and his World Cup is over only after two matches.
So who will win the game? Well our pick is Colombia since they have looked a proper team and Uruguay, well, they haven’t been that convincing. Then there is the Suarez issue to deal with and that will put them under even more pressure. It will be a really good game that is for sure and by what we have seen so far in the tournament, Colombia have the edge and momentum.
Colombia to win after a game full of goals.
3-Netherlands vs Mexico
Netherlands weren’t being taken very seriously ahead of the tournament and some people went so far as to say that this team will not even make it out of the group. The reason behind that assumption was that this isn’t really a talented enough team and in all honesty that wasn’t without merit. But they shocked the world when they thumped Spain 5-1 after a brilliant counter attacking performance. Australia ran them close in the second game but the Dutch won 3-2 and then they went on to beat Chile 2-0 to top the group.
Mexico got out of the group stage after beating Croatia 3-1 in their last game. They beat Cameroon but drew against Brazil to finish level on points with the host nation but in second spot on goal difference. The Mexicans have got the job done till now but they will need to shift gears if they are to topple the Dutch.
Netherlands look like easy winners on paper but this World Cup has shown that anything can happen. Netherlands will be under pressure as the favorites to win so expect the Mexicans to frustrate them and hit them on the break. Tactics will play a big part and a lot will hinge on how Mexico stop Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. After everything is said and done we expect Netherlands to win this game but it will not be easy at all.
Netherlands to win by a one goal margin.
4-Costa Rica vs Greece
This game pits Costa Rica, the surprise package against 2004 European champions Greece. Costa Rica caused somewhat of a stir by beating Uruguay in their opening game 3-1. They followed that up with a 1-0 victory over Italy and a draw against England to top the standings. It was a really tough group and not a lot of people tipped the Costa Ricans to advance from one of the hardest groups in the tournament. The proved everyone wrong and qualified with a game to spare.
They will be up against Greece, the team that made it to the round of 16 by the skin of their teeth. They were beaten 3-0 by Colombia but managed a 0-0 draw against Japan in their next round. Greece then had to beat Ivory Coast in their last game to qualify and Samaras scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in stoppage time to put them through.
Greece have more pedigree but Costa Rica have more pace and that is what should hurt the Europeans in this game. Costa Rica have played fearlessly and been devastating on the counterattack. Greece have the nous and are experts at grinding out results. It will be a really good game that can go either way.
Costa Rica to beat Greece because of their pace and technical ability.
5-France vs Nigeria
The French topped Group E with 7 points ahead of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. They beat Honduras 3-0 and thumped the Swiss 5-2 before drawing against Ecuador. Their performances in the first two games were a wakeup call for people who weren’t taking France seriously. They were devastating and have shown that they are a side that teams will be looking to avoid.
Nigeria finished second behind Argentina in Group F. They drew 0-0 with Iran in their first game and then beat Bosnia 1-0 in their second. Then came their toughest game of the tournament against Argentina. Nigeria held their own but were beaten 3-2 after a brace from the genius that is Lionel Messi. They finished a point ahead of Bosnia to capture second place in the group and a meeting with France.
Nigeria have been quite good in the way they have approached their games. Apart from their first game against Iran, the Africans have been very good to watch. They attacked both Argentina and Bosnia which was good to see. Their opponents however are bang in form as well. France have shown that their next golden generation has arrived and that they will be a serious threat to whoever they come up against. France has too much firepower and that might be too much to handle for Nigeria.
France to go through by a two goal margin at least.
6-Germany vs Algeria
Germany topped the dreaded Group of Death by finishing ahead of United States, Ghana and Portugal. Their campaign began with a 4-0 trouncing of Portugal which was followed by a pulsating 2-2 draw with Ghana. The Germans capped off their group stage proceedings by winning 1-0 against the U.S.
Algeria were in Group H with Belgium, South Korea and Russia. Just like Costa Rica, they weren’t given much of a chance when the groups were made prior to the World Cup but they upset the odds and qualified in second place behind Belgium. Their campaign began with a 2-1 loss to Belgium in a very close game but they bounced back to defeat the Koreans 4-2 in their next encounter. A 1-1 draw with Russia was good enough for them to make it out of the group.
Algeria’s abilities on the pitch have surprised a few people. They have attacked but it has been calculated. The tactical tweaks have been sensible and all this bodes well for their future. However they are up against a team that is one of the best in the world. The Germans are masters of counterattacking and have one of the best squads in the world. There is a lot of talent that gives them different options to change the system even in between games and that is something not a lot of other teams have.
Germany to win comfortably.
7-Argentina vs Switzerland
This tie has the potential of being special. Argentina topped Group F in front of Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia. The South Americans, one of the favorites for the World Cup beat Bosnia 2-1, Iran 1-0 and Nigeria 3-2 to score maximum points. Lionel Messi has been at his imperious best and he scored in all three games. They have played different systems but it is their 4-3-3 that has worked the best and expect that to be their default tactical strategy from this point onwards.
The Swiss finished a point behind France in Group E to secure their passage to the second round. They got their campaign off and running with a 2-1 win over Ecuador but came unstuck against France in their next match. Switzerland then comfortably beat Honduras 3-0 to rubberstamp their presence in the round of 16.
Now the thing here is that even though Argentina won all three of their group games, they haven’t really looked convincing. Yes, they have scored goals but they have conceded as well and their defense has looked quite open till now. We get the feeling that a well set up team can cause them problems and Switzerland can very well turn out to be that team. The Europeans will play it tactically because they know they don’t have the kind of quality that the Argentineans posses. If they get their tactics right and get behind Argentina’s leaky defense, then anything can happen.
Argentina’s superior quality to win this for them but not by a big margin.
8-Belgium vs United States
Now to the last game of the round of 16 and this is another one of those encounters that are just way too tough to call. Belgium topped Group H with wins over Algeria, South Korea and Russia. They beat Algeria in their first game 2-1, Russia 1-0 and South Korea 1-0 as well to rack up nine points out of nine.
The United States got out of the Group of Death and they deserved it as well. They beat Ghana 2-1 in their first game of the World Cup. The US then came within seconds of winning against Portugal in their next encounter. They were leading 2-1 and with only 25 seconds left on the clock, Portugal scored to level the game. US then went into their last game needing only a draw to secure qualification but ended up losing the game 1-0. They finished level on points with Portugal but went through because of their superior goal difference.
Belgium will be favorites with the talent they have. Yes, they won all three of their group games but none of those were convincing performances. They have their work cut out if they are to live up to their pre tournament hype of being this World Cup’s dark horses. The United States are good, make no mistake about that and they have the team to hurt Belgium. Klinsmann has galvanized them and the United States are performing. Their performances in the group stage were better than the results show.
Klinsmann to mastermind a huge win over Belgium and the US to make it to the quarterfinals.
So there you go, we have put our necks on the line. Now let’s hear what you have to say about this.