With enough fantastic finishes and heart stopping goals to last a lifetime, this World Cup has proven to be an entertaining one. We head into the weekend with 16 teams left, and plenty of Latino fútbol squads to watch. Let’s take a look at the remaining teams, and what matches we have to look forward to.
Unsurprisingly, Brazil locked in the top spot and head into the next round to face Chile in a tough pairing. Brazil and Chile have both been strong in this tournament, so expect this matchup to be an absolute brawl. Brazil has one of the strongest units this year, but I would not be surprised to see Chile push this one into extra time, and perhaps even pull out a stunner if it gets to penalties. El Tri finished in second place and have been “rewarded” with facing the Netherlands in the next round. Let me put it this way: if this World Cup had been held in Europe instead of Brazil, the Netherlands would have entered this tournament as the odds-on favorites. As it stands, no European team has ever won a World Cup outside of Europe. Still, this is not the round the Netherlands are going to lose in.
The Netherlands and Chile have advanced out of this group. Though we have already gone over their opponents for this week, let’s delve into these teams a little more. The Netherlands boast a strong squad and seem to be unfazed by the Brazilian heat. They have dominated this tournament more than any other squad thus far, and it is their coach’s ability to hide their weaknesses that does them that favor. They use a 4-3-3 formation to highlight their talented forwards, and it helps. Though they are not the most talented squad across the board, at least on paper, their cohesiveness will make them a tough knockout. Chile was kind of put in their place after losing to the Netherlands 2-0, and now face the tough Brazil squad. Chile may have been a dark horse coming into the tournament, but their schedule seems to have done them in. Like I said, though, don’t count out Chile until the final whistle blows.
Colombia and Greece advance after the injury-time stunner for Greece against Ivory Coast. Colombia advances to take on a Uruguay who will probably be without their striker with cannibalistic tendencies, Luis Suarez. This can only a good thing for Colombia, who would have much rather faced Costa Rica in the round of 16. As it stands, the dangerous Uruguay team will not be able to stand up to Colombia without their best player. Greece, along with Costa Rica, was a surprising team advancing into the round of 16, and they have their injury-time penalty kick to thank for that. Ivory Coast was another dark horse for this tournament as a good team that has often been stuck in tough groups. I think they can officially shed the title of unlucky after being unable to advance in yet another World Cup. To be honest though, it would have been fun to see the lightning quick offense of Ivory Coast going against Costa Rica instead of Greece (be advised: there is nothing wrong with your television, that is just how slow the Greek team moves).
Costa Rica and Uruguay advance out of this group in surprising fashion. Costa Rica because, well, they are Costa Rica. They will get a warm-up match with Greece before most likely getting destroyed by the Netherlands in the next round. Uruguay is surprising because of the controversies in their win against Italy. Italy was forced to play a man down after an egregious foul by Claudio Marchisio, and were unable to withstand the pressure afterward. As mentioned, Uruguay strike Suarez bit another player this week, so expect him to be severely punished.
France will be advancing out of this group with either Ecuador or Switzerland joining them. France will be tasked with facing either Iran or Nigeria in the next round, and it is expected that they will easily advance. I foresee Switzerland grabbing the second spot and being rewarded with Argentina. Though I suppose rewarded is not the appropriate term.
Argentina is one of the best teams in the world and easily advanced out of this group. They get an easy win next round as well but are then going to be (likely) facing the tough test that is Germany. That game would be one for the ages, so let us hope that both teams advance as expected. The second to come out of this group will likely be Iran, so expect them to be fed to the lion that is France.
This group is by far the most exciting. I expect whomever ends up advancing in the top two spots to beat their counterparts in Group H. Group G was a strong group this year, and I would be surprised to not see two teams advancing into the round of eight. Germany and United States are my picks to advance and take on Belgium and (likely) Algeria. Either way, the United States have had an amazing World Cup experience. After getting placed in the group of death they deftly maneuvered and they will not go down without a fight. If they ever clean up their early and late game miscues they will be a team to be reckoned with. They should have left the Portugal game with a win but a draw against the fourth ranked team in the world is nothing to hang your head about.
Belgium will be advancing as the top spot and will be joined by the winner of the Algeria-Russia game. As I have mentioned before, Belgium benefited from playing in a weak group and I would not be surprised to see them fall in the round of 16.