Jun 27, 1014 days ago

2014 World Cup – Second Round matches

2014 World Cup – Second Round matches

The 2014 World Cup reaches the knockout stages this week and it’s a combination of the pre-tournament favourites and some surprise packages that make up the last 16. Will the big guns make it to the quarter finals or will there be yet more upsets in an unpredictable tournament?

Here’s our preview of some of the second round matches at the 2014 World Cup.

South Americans bid to make quarter finals

The first two last 16 matches feature four teams from the host continent.

Hosts and favourites Brazil kick off the knockout stages as they face dark horses Chile. It’s been a mixed tournament so far for Phil Scolari’s side who have dazzled in patches but have failed to set the tournament alight. Neymar has been their key player so far but to win the competition Brazil will need more from the likes of Fred and Hulk.

Chile are one of the most exciting teams to watch in Brazil and their win over Spain was one of the highlights of the tournament so far. They boast a potent combination of talent and athleticism and their brand of high energy football has served them well so far.

Brazil are naturally the favourites in Belo Horizonte but I can see Chile pushing them every inch of the way. Back the draw after 90 minutes at 3/1.

The second all-CONMEBOL clash of the round is Uruguay v Colombia. Colombia have put the disappointment of losing talisman Radamel Falcao behind them and, in James Rodriguez, have one of the players of the tournament so far. They qualified with ease scoring nine goals in the process and head to Rio de Janeiro in great form.

Uruguay scraped through Group D at the expense of Italy and England but the actions of their star striker have overshadowed their progression to the last 16. On the pitch they have been less than impressive – don’t forget that they lost to Costa Rica – and so I expect Colombia to progress at 23/20.

Big names looking to progress

The Netherlands avoided a tricky knockout fixture with hosts Brazil by winning the group and are rewarded with a last 16 match against Mexico. Mexico have performed better than I expected but their record at the Finals is pretty poor and I expect Holland to keep up their good run here at 11/10.

Argentina are the second favourites for the tournament and Lionel Messi has lit up their tournament so far. The diminutive striker scored twice against Nigeria and the winners against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina and his side face Switzerland in the last 6.

I’ve been reasonably impressed by the Swiss despite their thumping by France and this might be a closer match than many expect. Xherdan Shaqiri scored an excellent hat-trick against Honduras and is 12/1 to score first and I’m also tempted by the huge 13/2 available on the Europeans.

Germany have been one of the more impressive sides in the tournament so far and face surprise package Algeria in Porto Alegre.

Algeria have reached the last 16 for the first time and have a score to settle with the Germans after the events of 1982. Then, having beaten West Germany 2-1, they were eliminated on goal difference after the Germans and Austrians played keep ball for 80 minutes knowing both would progress.

Algeria are 10/1 to repeat their upset of 32 years ago but I fancy the Germans to go through here.

Outsiders look to continue their good form

You’d have got long odds on a Greece v Costa Rica tie in the last 16 and both teams have defied expectations by qualifying from their group. A win for the Central American team would continue their fairytale although Greece’s tactics do work well in knockout football. The 11/2 on a goalless draw looks good value.

Nigeria are one of just two representatives from Africa in the knockout stages and I don’t fancy their chances of progressing any further against an impressive looking France side. The Super Eagles gave Argentina a scare but were largely hopeless against Iran and so I expect France to ease into the quarter-finals at 8/15.

Despite their ‘dark horse’ status, Belgium have done nothing to convince me that they will win their first World Cup in Brazil. They face the USA for a place in the quarter finals after Jurgen Klinsmann’s side unexpectedly eliminated both Ghana and Portugal.

The USA have been much better than I expected and I actually fancy them to cause an upset here. Their organisation can frustrate Belgium and it could well be the case that the team will beat the collection of individuals – although it may take extra time to do it. The draw is available at 5/2.

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