Published on by Darren8196 1 Comments Updated on
Two very exciting games down, six more to go as the Road to Finals began with ten goals in two games which ended with both Ronaldo and Messi heading home.
Now it is time to look at the second half of the Round of 16, with Brazil, Belgium and England the big teams to watch out for here.
Brazil v Mexico
Brazil looked unconvincing in their opener against Switzerland but two solid wins and clean sheets later, they look like they could be serious challengers once again. Coutinho has been the star of the show over Neymar, and as long as they are playing well together, they are a tough team for anyone to beat.
Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany got many people on the hype train for them. A 3-0 loss to Sweden put in their last game saw them drop down to second place in the group and have a much tougher game. They will be without Hector Moreno for this game after he picked up two bookings in the group stages, which may cause them some issues defensively, but the experience and leadership brought by possible replacement Rafa Marquez will no doubt help fill that void.
Brazil are bookies favourites for this one, and I am inclined to agree with them and go with a win for the Seleção.
My Prediction: Brazil win
Match played: Monday 30th, 3:00 p.m. (BST) / 10:00 a.m. (EST)
Belgium v Japan
Belgium and England’s reserve players played out a nervy last group stage game, in which the Red Devils came away with three points. And with only Boyata and Courtois playing any meaningful amount and expected to start the next game, they will be well rested and recuperated for the knockout stages.
Japan suffered a scare after they went behind to Poland, but with Colombia beating Senegal, the Japanese became the first team to progress from the group stages on fair play points, having had two less bookings than Senegal. They have been solid but relatively unimpressive, and I feel like they were massively helped by Colombia’s early red card in the opening game.
On paper, this is perhaps the most one-sided of the games this round, with Belgium’s top talents all over the pitch appearing to be too much for the experienced Japanese side.
My Prediction: Belgium win
Match played: Monday 30th, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Sweden v Switzerland
Sweden shocked everyone by pushing Germany very close, before following it up with a solid 3-0 win over Mexico to progress to the knockout stages as group winners. However, they will be without veteran Seb Larsson for this game, who is suspended after picking up two yellows in the group stages. They have only made it beyond the first knockout game once in the last 50 years, and this is arguably their best chance to do so.
Switzerland aren’t without their own suspensions, with both Schar and Lichtsteiner missing from their regular back four this game due to accumulated bookings. With the likes of Shaqiri in their team, they will be hoping that his power and skill will help break down a very stubborn defence that Germany and Mexico struggled to get past. While in defence, the maturity shown by 22 year old Akanji has been noted by many and kept the experienced Djourou out of the team.
The bookies are very even between these two, but I feel like Switzerland may have the slight upper hand and will be able to come through for the win.
My Prediction: Switzerland win
Match played: Tuesday 30th, 3:00 p.m. (BST) / 10:00 a.m. (EST)
Colombia v England
Colombia come into this one full of confidence after cruising to a 3-0 win over Poland and battling out a narrow 1-0 win over Senegal to top the group. They will no doubt be aiming to better their best ever performance at the World Cup which they achieved four years ago, and a win here would set them up well for that. Concerns over James Rodriguez’s fitness remain, with the most recent news reports at the time of writing suggesting that he won’t play.
After many claiming there was no chance of them winning before the tournament began, the normal English hype is back in full force with the chants of “It’s coming home” being heard across England. Having rested the majority of their main players in the tie against Belgium, they now face a tough test against Colombia. With only two bookings so far, Walker and Loftus-Cheek, they will be hoping that neither of them pick up a booking and face suspension in the quarter finals. Kane will no doubt be looking to add a few more goals to his tally as he aims for the golden boot.
England are the bookies favourites for this one and I am probably agreeing with them, especially with Rodriguez looking like he will miss the game.
My Prediction: England win
Match played: Tuesday 30th, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
With just eight games to go after these ones, it looks set to be a tense next two weeks. All we can hope for is that the drama, goals and excitement can continue all the way through.
As always, good luck and happy predicting!