World Cup Round of 16 Predictions
By Zach Malamud
Uruguay vs Portugal, Saturday, 2:00 pm-
It was a rough group stage for Cristiano Ronaldo and company as they narrowly finished in second place with a win and two draws. They will have to step it up against a strong Uruguay side led by attackers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani and defenders Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin. Uruguay finished the group stage undefeated in three fairly easy matchups against Russia(3-0), Egypt(1-0), and Saudi Arabia(1-0). The attacking and defensive forces of Uruguay will be too strong for this Portugal side and they will be sent home early in possibly Ronaldo’s final World Cup.
France vs Argentina, Saturday, 10:00 am-
The world was shocked when Messi and Argentina were on the brink of going out of the World Cup in the group stage but they found a way with Marcos Rojo’s 86th minute goal against Nigeria. Now sadly for Argentina it doesn’t get any easier. They will take on a French side who has had their ups and downs but is still no doubt one of the top teams in the world. France finished in the group with two wins and a draw but the opposition which included Peru, Denmark and Australia was not very challenging. We have yet to see the best of Lionel Messi so it should be interesting to see if he can step it up in this really tough game. That said, I think Jorge Sampaoli’s men just got a kickstart from the group stage and will move on in a very close game.
Spain vs Russia, Sunday, 10:00 am-
Spain went through a tough group stage surprisingly finishing with a win and two draws. Iago Aspas scored a last minute goal against Morocco in their thrilling last day of the group stage to help secure first place over Portugal in Group B.This could end up being a tough matchup against a Russian side that finished with two wins in the group stage. Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin led the way for Russia and they have a slight chance of beating Spain. I don’t believe it will happen this time though even with the home field advantage. Spain will come out on top but not by much.
Croatia vs Denmark, Sunday, 2:00 pm-
What a start from Croatia! Luka Modric and company were unbelievable in the group stage. They beat Messi and Argentina 3-0 while also beating Nigeria and Iceland to go undefeated in the group. Croatia can really shock the world and go far into the knockout stages. They first have to beat a Denmark side led by world class midfielder Christian Eriksen. Denmark, who finished the group stage with one win and two draws are not gonna beat Croatia. The Croatians will move on to play Spain in the quarterfinals.
Brazil vs Mexico, Monday, 10:00 am-
This game should be an extremely exciting offensive affair. Both Brazil and Mexico have better attacks then defense. Hirving Lozano has been outstanding for the Mexico side on both offense and defense, putting his body on the line every time he has the chance. But, we saw Mexico’s struggles in their last game against Sweden when they lost 3–0, and their lack of a solid backend will probably see them fall to Brazil. Brazil star left back Marcelo limped off 10 minutes into their final group stage matchup against Serbia with an apparent back injury. It doesn’t look to be that serious and he will most likely play. Brazil has done well so far finishing the group stage with two wins and a draw. They did have a close call in a very exciting matchup against Keylor Navas’ Costa Rica where Phillipe Coutinho scored in the 90th minute to get Brazil the win. Tite’s men should come out on top with Neymar having his best game of the tournament.
Belgium vs Japan, Sunday, 2:00 pm-
This should be the most one sided game of the tournament. Belgium has been astounding so far going undefeated in the group stage scoring nine goals while only letting up two. Belgium was so dominating in their first two matches that they were able to rest most of their starting 11 for their final group stage victory over England. Japan had a shocking upset of Colombia in their opener when a Colombian red card left them with 10 men for most of the match. They finished the group stage with a draw and a loss. Belgium is undefeated in their last 22 games with 17 wins and five draws. I think they will add to that win column very easily. This matchup won’t be close, and Belgium should come out on top.
Sweden vs Switzerland, Tuesday, 10:00 am-
This matchup could end up going into extra time or penalties. This is a very strong Sweden side that beat Mexico 3-0 and just couldn’t get a point from their second match because of a last second winner by Germany. They ended up finishing first in their group with two wins and a loss. Switzerland on the other hand, got a huge result with a tie against Brazil which really helped them secure a spot in the knockout stage. A last minute winner by Xherdan Shaqiri against Serbia also really helped this team to get to the knockout stage. Both teams are very strong but I believe Sweden will come out on top in a tight match that quite possibly needs extra time to determine the winner.
Colombia vs England, Tuesday, 2:00 pm-
Finally, the last round of 16 game will be Colombia taking on England. Colombia had an injury scare with James Rodriguez leaving their final group stage matchup after 30 minutes with an apparent calf injury. However, he should be able to play against a strong England side. England went through the group stage with two wins and a loss with their backups against Belgium. One of those wins was a staggering 6-1 win against Panama in their second group stage game. England will be a tough matchup for Colombia but I think James and his team will come out on top to play Sweden in the quarterfinals.
So that is it for the round of 16 predictions. Check back next weekend for the World Cup quarterfinals predictions. Here is what it could look like: