And then there were 16. With Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands and Cost Rica through, our man YASSER ALLY offers some predictions on the fixtures to come.
France vs Nigeria
To be frank, France haven’t really been tested so far in the tournament. It’s hard to judge how good this team is considering how easy their group matches were. They just might get a shock then when they face off against a pumped-up Nigerian team, which has had to fight its way through their group stages. If they’re not burnt out and can bring their A-game, we could be in for the biggest upset yet. The key for Nigeria is Ahmed Musa. As one of two African teams left in the tourney, here’s hoping the Super Eagles fly on.
Head Prediction : France 2 – Nigeria 1
Heart Prediction : France 1 – Nigeria 2
Germany vs Algeria
I doubt that this Algerian team can soar to the heights of the class of 1982, which famously defeated West Germany 2-1 at the World Cup, but memories of that memorable day will not be in short supply. Let’s hope the Algerians don’t try and park the bus to try and catch the Germans on the counter because that’s not going to cut it. Algeria has some serious pace in attack so I’m hoping they try to take on the slow and sluggish German defense. That being said, Germany should march on.
Head Prediction : Germany 4 – Algeria 0
Heart Prediction : Germany 0 – Algeria 0 (Algeria to win on penalties)
Argentina vs Switzerland
More of the Messi show, please. Argentina’s diminutive striker is carrying his team through the tournament in much the same way that his mentor Diego Maradona did in 1986. On paper, Argentina is the stronger team, but this is a team sport and there is always the chance that Messi could fail to produce the goods. But the Swiss did famously beat Spain in Durban at the last World Cup, so they can’t be written off. Experienced Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld could conjure up some tactical magic to cause a fright for Argentina, but it’s unlikely.
Prediction : Argentina 2 – Switzerland 0
Belgium vs USA
Belgium will write off the USA at their own peril. Belgium has individual talent aplenty with Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Felliani,Thibaut Courtois and more. This year’s dark horse, the USA, can claim a big scalp here if they continue to play with the confidence instilled in them by their charismatic coach Jurgen Klinsmann. This week the Indystar described Klinsmann’s team as the greatest team in US soccer history. Barack Obama will consider a public holiday should the USA progress.
Prediction : Belgium 1 – USA 1 – (USA to win on penalties)