For two weeks, the Round of 16 has been a hypothetical. Now that the games are set, here’s what you need to know about the second round of the 2014 World Cup.
Format and changes
- Top two teams from the tournament’s eight groups have advanced, slotting into a pre-determined bracket;
- Teams that finished first in one group will face second place-finishers from others;
- Games start on Saturday and will happen two-per-day until the quarterfinals are set on Tuesday;
- If a game is tied after 90 minutes, there’ll be 30 minutes of extra time, then penalty kicks;
- Your margin for error is over – it’s now win or go home;
- Yellow cards carry over from group stage and will continue in the knockout rounda.
Here are the eight matches, which begin on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. Winners of each day’s games play each other in the quarterfinals.
Saturday, June 28
Brazil vs. Chile, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Belo Horizonte – The home nation will be favorites, but a midfield that failed to impress during group stage will have its hands full with an energetic Roja. Slotted adjacent to Colombia-Uruguay, this pod ensures one South American team will make it to the tournament’s semifinals.
Colombia vs. Uruguay, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Rio de Janeiro – The day’s second all-South America matchup with see the CONMEBOL champions, without Luis Suárez, take on the favored Cafeteros. Colombia’s attacking midfielder James Rodríguez has been one of the stars of the tournament, while Edinson Cavani will be asked to step up in the wake of his suspended teammate.
Sunday, June 29
Netherlands vs. Mexico, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Fortaleza – The Dutch have been as strong as any team in the tournament, but allowing only one goal in group play, Mexico’s already showed the quality to keep up with the Oranje. Their veteran defense led by Rafa Márquez will be tasked with slowing the competition’s most potent striker tandem: Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
Costa Rica vs. Greece, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Recife – The least-likely of the knockout round match ups features two teams who’ve found success without seeing much of the ball. Greece’s last minute winner against the Ivory Coast clinched their first knockout round spot, while Costa Rica were the surprise winners of one of the tournament’s deepest groups. Shockingly, one of these teams will be in the quarterfinals.
Monday, June 30
France vs. Nigeria, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Brasilía – Though they were drawn in their last group game by Ecuador, France has been one of the tournament’s best teams. Nigeria, much like Greece and Algeria, were the beneficiaries of a thin group, finishing second behind Argentina. On paper, this is one of the most lopsided of the round’s matchups, but given the surprises we’ve seen throughout the tournament, there’s no Round of 16 mismatch that can’t be overcome.
Germany vs. Algeria, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Porto Alegre – Despite stumbling in their second group game against Ghana, Germany remains one of the tournament’s favorites, with a possible matchup against France potentially providing semifinal quality in the round of eight. To get there, however, the Germans will have deal with the team they controversially put out of the 1982 World Cup. Though collusion with Austria kept Algeria from getting out of the teams’ group in Spain, Algeria is finally into the knockout round after Thursday’s draw with Russia.
Tuesday, July 1
Argentina vs. Switzerland, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, São Paulo – Four goals from Lionel Messi pushed the Argentines to the top of Group F, while Switzerland recovered from its thrashing by France to make the final 16. Both teams have a wealth of attacking talent, but Argentina’s is amongst the best in the world.
Belgium vs. United States, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Salvador – Who could have predicted this one? Belgium is one of four perfect teams remaining in the tournament yet failed to show it in any of their three group matches. They’ll still be favored over the USA, however though, the resiliency the Americans showed to get out of the famed ‘Group of Death’ will force the Belgians to play closer to their potential. This will be Americas best ever chance to get to the quarter finals where they would surely face Argentina and Lionel Messi. That would be the biggest game in US Soccer team history and would no doubt achieve the biggest TV ratings for a Football/Soccer game in history too. So excited !