Into the knockout stages we go.WRITTEN BY THE EDITOR ON JUNE 28, 2018. POSTED IN SPORTS
32 teams began, and now we are down to 16. Let's recap on the initial action and what lies ahead in the next round.
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It has been a helter skelter couple of weeks of football. 32 teams came, and 16 teams remain with a shot at ultimate glory.
Germany were yet another defending champion team that succumbed to the rigours of group play. With an early loss to Mexico, a last minute escape against Sweden kept their trophy titles alive, but South Korea sent them packing with an injury time 2-0 win.
The ‘favourites tag’ seems to be be getting passed around. Brazil looked subdued against Switzerland and Costa Rica, but hit form against Serbia to top their group. Spain and Portugal matched themselves shot for shot in their opening tussle and went on to progress from their group, but hardly with much of a flourish. France looked untroubled, but were also off their best in the only 0-0 so far against Denmark. Argentina were in danger of going home early, but some Messi magic finally got them on the right track and into the playoffs.
Belgium are looking the strongest of ‘the favourites’ then, but joining them with perfect records from the group stage are Uruguay and Croatia. Those last two teams can certainly be put into the ‘dark horse’ category as we progress to the next round.
Africa’s hopes were solely held by Nigeria and Senegal, but they both fell short at the final hurdle. So nobody from the continent shall advance from the five teams on display.
The all important next round has some seriously big matches as you would expect.
France vs Argentina headlines them straight up, with the South Americans certainly going into this as the underdogs. Uruguay will certainly back themselves to beat a Ronaldo led Portugal. Spain get the fortunate break of Russia in their match, with the host nation surely reaching their ceiling in the tournament.
Croatia similarly will take on Denmark who will battle to match the class of Luka Modric’s team. Brazil vs Mexico should produce tremendous fireworks as Neymar and company look to assert their prowess upfront. Belgium cruised through their group, but the challenge of a plucky Japan will finally truly test their mettle.
It all wraps up on Tuesday as Sweden take on Switzerland in an all European clash before Colombia provide the ultimate test for England.
Feel like you know which way the games are going to go?
Well go ahead and make your picks. (Mine are below in bold)
France vs Argentina 16:00
Uruguay vs Portugal 20:00
Spain vs Russia 16:00
Croatia vs Denmark 20:00
Brazil vs Mexico 16:00
Belgium vs Japan 20:00
Sweden vs Switzerland 16:00
Colombia vs England 20:00
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