World Cup: Knockout Stage Preview

After an exciting group stage we've now entered the single-elimination knockout round of the World Cup scheduled to begin Saturday, June 30th. Here's our previews of each game. 

 Fox Sports

Fox Sports

France vs Argentina

June 30th - France managed to somewhat underwhelm in the group stage despite having quite possibly the deepest team in the tournament. The same can be said about Argentina, however it wasn't a surprise to anyone since they nearly missed out on the World Cup entirely. Just like how Messi carried Argentina into the tournament, I'm expecting him to carry Argentina into the quarterfinal with some help from Ever Banega and negative 100 help from Javier Mascherano. (@abel_figgy)

Argentina 2; France 1

 

Uruguay vs Portugal

June 30th - Uruguay and Portugal set trends opposite of one another in the group stage. The Portuguese, predominantly Cristiano Ronaldo, gave us the splash entrance we all expected from a side with such a talent. Cristiano set his neighboring country on fire with a hat trick to tie it in his first match of group play. Portugal then went on to squeak by Morocco with a one goal win, before tying the Iranians 1-1. Ronaldo traded in scoring goals for a Metta World Peace-esque elbow attack that somehow only managed to warrant a yellow card. Uruguay kicked off the tournament edging a Salah-less Egypt and talentless Saudi Arabia 1-0 a piece. In their final match of group play, though, Suarez and Cavani both scored in a 3-0 thwarting of the previously hot Russian side. With Cavani and Suarez hitting a stride, Uruguay’s quality will outlast the one man show in Portugal. (@iirenzo)

Uruguay 2; Portugal 1

 

Spain vs Russia

July 1st - The host nation Russia exploded onto the scene of the World Cup by scoring 5 goals against Saudi Arabia and 3 versus Egypt. As the level of competition raised Russia struggled mightily against Uruguay losing 3-0. I just don't see Russia keeping up with a world-class team like Spain unless Spain continues to make silly and costly mistakes that have kept their opponents in the game. Spain have dug themselves into a hole in two of their group stage matches thus forcing themselves to stage a comeback. As the tournament progresses and the teams get better they can't afford to keep playing so lackadaisical. I think the talent gap in this game will ultimately win out as Spain will advance to play the winner of Croatia v Denmark. (@alecbruins)

Spain 2; Russia 1

 

Croatia vs Denmark

July 1st - Croatia has finally played up to their potential in this World Cup advancing through the group stage with 9 points and a GD of 6. As we noted in our podcast, this is the golden era of Croatian football but also their last real shot with this group to advance deep into this tournament. It's just really difficult to beat a midfield with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic playing as well as they are. Denmark most impressive feat in the group stage was a draw with World Cup favorite France 0-0. They conceded only 1 goal (P) in group stage but they will need much more from Christian Eriksen and their attack to have any shot at advancing. (@alecbruins)

Croatia 2; Denmark 0

 

Brazil vs Mexico

July 2nd - Brazil has all the talent in the world yet looked very vulnerable against their first two opponents in the group stage. However, this Brazilian side is fresh off an impressive win showing off that trademark flare that only Brazil could provide. Mexico survived the group of death and looked like a team to be reckoned with (which I believe they still are) but got absolutely dominated physically by a bigger and stronger Sweden side. Don't expect Brazil to bully Mexico like Sweden did. In fact, look for Mexico to play physical against a very floppy Brazilian team. Mexico also has probably the most dangerous counter attack in the tournament. I'm looking for that to put Mexico over the hump and into the quarterfinals. Lozano WILL be in the net and Neymar will be on the ground. (@abel_figgy)

Mexico 2; Brazil 1

 

Belgium vs Japan

July 2nd - Quite possibly the biggest mismatch in the round of 16, Belgium should view this game as a tune up for the quarterfinal. Belgium looked dominant, albeit it in an incredibly top heavy group. This game may bare the same results as Belgium’s group stage games did. A Belgium vs Senegal matchup would have been much more intriguing. (@abel_figgy)

Belgium 3; Japan 0

 

Sweden vs Switzerland

July 3rd - This is the least exciting matchup of the round of 16. There aren’t household names on either side for the casual fan to latch on to, and neither side have dazzled in this World Cup. Although, both sides have been competitive throughout. Sweden’s eleven are First-Team All Grit. They’re a physical side and while they’re not the most exciting, they capped their group play by curb stomping Mexico in an impressive 3-0 game. The Swiss lack playmakers who can create their own space and I’d bet Sweden will edge this out in a very tight one.  (@iirenzo)

Sweden 1; Switzerland 0

 

Colombia vs England

July 3rd - Rejoice! This will be an exciting match because England have decided to show up in this tournament. We’re all aware of England’s  long-standing tradition of underwhelming performances in major tournaments. This time around, they’ve got the big dick energy often harbored by the Germans; They’re poised, aggressive and most importantly, Harry Kane — who tallied five goals in two matches — is going to give any side he plays werk on behalf of his country. Side note, for my American Football guys, if you have ever wondered what Megatron would look like on the pitch, the Englishman Ruben Loftus-Cheek warrants a view. For the Colombians, here’s what you need to know going into the match: James Rodriguez is out. It’s curtains. (@iirenzo)

England 2; Colombia 0