Everyone knows that predictions are a fools game, but we also know that there is nothing else to do when there isn’t football on that awful day after the group stages. So, just for fun, here is the way I see it going.
Brazil v Chile
Arguably the tie of the round and as the hosts enter the ‘must win’ territory of the knock0out phase the pressure will grow by the minute. Chile’s best chance is to hold off the early surge from Neymar and others, and try and keep the ball like they did so well in the group stage. If they can get to 60 minutes at 0-0 then the pressure might force Brazil into something silly. I don’t think they will be able to, but I don’t expect Brazil to win by any more than 1 goal.
Columbia v Uruguay
Without the only player who looked like a threat in front of goal (albeit against a schoolboy English defence) the Uruguayans will almost certainly not be strong enough for the all-conquering Columbians. The speed with which they move both the ball and themselves has already left their group opponents mesmerised, and I expect the same here. Comfortable win for the Columbians.
Netherlands v Mexico
Netherlands haven’t really had a tough match yet, other than for about 30 minutes combined they cruised through the group stage. Mexico have already parked the bus effectively against Brazil, and their best chance in this match will be doing the same again. Whether they can resist the temptation to go forward if the Dutch sit deep, inviting the counter, will be interesting to see. Expect the Netherlands to win, but it might not be done in 90 minutes.
Costa Rica v Greece
This could be an interesting game of style over substance, with the Greeks packing the midfield and their well-drilled defence, while the Costa Ricans looked good going forward against poor group opposition without being tested really at the back. This could end up being played mostly in the middle third of the pitch, and watch how soon the Greeks start playing for penalties. It’ll probably come down to a moment of brilliance or an error, and both circumstances favour the Costa Ricans.
France v Nigeria
France made enough changes in their last group game to come back fresh for this, and will the Nigerians have already put in their best performance in the loss to Argentina. I expect them to cause the French some problems, and if they score the first goal they might just cause a big upset. Having said that if France play like they did in the first two games, especially attack like they did against Switzerland it could be a rugby score. France to win, but not without difficulties.
Germany v Algeria
While Algeria might just be happy to be here I fancy them to cause the Germans some real problems, especially on the counter attack. Having said that Germany should have enough to see them off, don’t be surprised though if it’s very tight for the first 70 minutes.
Argentina v Switzerland
Argentina will win this without too many problems. Switzerland will be organised at the back but that won’t stop Messi if he brings anything like his top game. I don’t think the Swiss showed enough against the best team in their group to give an indication that they might even run Argentina close, so I expect this to be fairly comfortable.
Belgium v USA
I’ll start with an old cliché; either of these teams could win this game. The USA managed to get through despite losing to Germany and the Belgians never really got out of third gear in their group, despite winning all three games. If they can move into top gear then they’ll have enough to beat the USA, but they haven’t shown any sign of doing that yet, and a well-drilled USA side should have enough to reach the last 8.
I’ll update the predictions after the next round, but here is the way I see it going, at this stage.
Brazil v Columbia
France v Germany
Netherlands v Costa Rica
Argentina v USA
Columbia v Germany
Netherlands v Argentina
Columbia v Argentina