In the 2014 World Cup, we have seen great scoring, thrilling comebacks, last-second-goals, joyous celebrations and painful defeats. Dramatic matches, and their accompanying Maalox moments, have been numerous. We have even seen a player go cannibal and bite one of his competitors. Now we are out of the group phase of play and we begin the “win or go home” portion of the tournament. Half of the tournament field has been culled. We are now left with the best 16 teams in the World Cup.
I am fully aware that trying to predict anything at this World Cup is an exercise in futility, but I am a glutton for punishment so here it goes…
Netherlands v Mexico
The Netherlands and Mexico both cruised through their groups with relative ease. Both teams are playing very well at the moment, and this will be another game featuring high-powered offenses and plenty of goals. At the end of the day, I don’t think Mexico can get past Robben, Van Persie and the quality of the Netherlands. Netherlands 4 – 2.
Costa Rica v Greece
Costa Rica has shocked the world by playing an attractive style of soccer and winning their group against the likes of Itay, England and Uruguay. Greece will sit in, defend and look to counter. With World Cup darlings Costa Rica riding the shoulders Joel Campbell, they should prove too much for the Greeks. Costa Rica 1 – 0.
France v Nigeria
France has played well, scoring eight goals in their first three matches. Nigeria grinded out a couple of matches to claim a spot in the second round. While I like Nigeria’s pace and athletic ability, I think this will be a difficult match against a very good French side. Look for Pogba, Benzema and Giroud to create lots of chances for Les Bleus. France 2 – 0.
Germany v Algeria
One of the great stories of this World Cup is that Algeria was able to get through to the second round for the first time in the country’s history. Unfortunately, they will face Germany. The German machine has been impressive to watch and should have a relatively easy time of things with Algeria. Germany 3 – 0.
Argentina has Messi and a host of talented player, but was only able to get through a relatively weak group by beating each opponent by one goal. Switzerland has been scoring goals, but has been letting them in as well. Depending on which Swiss team shows up, this could be a very entertaining match. Playing in South America should ultimately help Argentina see this one through. Draw 2 - 2, Argentina advances on penalties.
U.S. v Belgium
The U.S. was able to get through the “group of death” on a superior goal difference. Belgium is a young team chock full of talent. Although they won all three of their first round games, they only led in those games a total of 25 minutes. Expect the belief that Juergen Klinsmann has instilled in his boys, paired with the drive and determination of any team from the United States, to see the red, white and blue through to the quarterfinals. United States 2 – 1 in extra time.
If this World Cup has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Enjoy the second round of the World Cup. Who knows what will happen?