Top 15 Matches That Could Happen In The Round of 16 At 2014 World Cup
2014 World Cup: Top 15 Matches That Are Possible in the Round of 16
A majority of soccer fans all across the world have likely spent most of their time since the 2014 World Cup Draw going over the groups, looking at all the great match ups, and trying to predict which teams are going to finish atop the group and advance to the knockout stage. But while the group stage does have a substantial list of must-watch games, in some ways it’s rather underwhelming. Only three or four of the groups are all that intriguing, and there seems to be a lack of matches between nations that have a history with one another, either historically or on the soccer field.
But that’s going to start to change in the knockout stage, when most of the weak sides will be weeded out, leaving us with the world’s top teams to battle it out in a one-and-done set up. We obviously don’t know how things are going to shake out in the group stage, so we can’t know for sure which matchups we’re going to get, but there is the possibility that the round of 16 will include some heavyweight fights that we usually don’t get to see until at least the semi-finals. There’s also a chance that we’ll be treated to some traditional soccer powerhouses, regional rivals, and historically linked nations facing off in the first knockout round of the World Cup.
Obviously, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but some of these matchups are too intriguing not to think about ahead of time. So here they are, the top 15 matchups that we could see during the round of 16 in this summer’s World Cup.
15. France vs. Argentina
There’s not great history between these two nations, but there’s a lot to be said about a traditional European power facing one of the South American favorites at this stage in the tournament. It would also be a match that could produce quite a few goals with so many skilled offensive players on both sides.
14. Colombia vs. Uruguay
This is one of several potential matchups between South American nations that we could see in the second round. These two teams met twice during the qualifying process, with the home team winning convincingly both times, so it’d be great to see them play a rubber match on neutral turf, although obviously both would be playing fairly close to home.
13. Untied States vs. South Korea
It may not be the most compelling matchup for much of the world, but surely both sides remember their draw in the 2002 World Cup that ultimately helped both sides advance to the knockout stage. Obviously, there will be no draw this time around, as one side would have to advance. Politically, these two are great friends and close allies, so there’s no added animosity, but the players would surely put on an entertaining and competitive match.
12. Ecuador vs. Argentina
Any match between two South American nations is going to be a big deal at this World Cup. Ecuador hasn’t had great luck advancing past the group stage in its World Cup history, so just getting to the round of 16 would be a big deal for them, and an even bigger deal if they have to face South American neighbor Argentina.
11. Germany vs. Belgium
There’s a little bit of history between these two nations going back to World War II; and the two also met in the round of 16 back in 1994 when the Germans advanced with a 3-2 win. As for the current teams, Belgium is seen as a dark horse to win the tournament, and there’s no better way for them to prove that they’re for real than to beat a traditional power like Germany in the second round, especially when the Germans are well accustomed to playing deep into World Cups. If these two teams were to meet at any point, it could rather quietly be one of the most compelling matches of the tournament.
10. Portugal vs. Russia
These two nations went through qualifying in the same group, with the Russians surprising many by coming out on top, forcing Portugal to go through a playoff with Sweden in order to qualify. Of course, the two head-to-head matchups between Russia and Portugal during qualifying were both won by the home team by a single goal, so a rubber match between two relatively equal teams would be great to see.
9. Mexico vs. Chile
This one isn’t likely to happen, as both teams are going to have their work cut out for them to reach the round of 16, Chile against two world powers and Mexico against themselves. But seeing two Latin American nations face off in a World Cup being held in South America would be something special to watch, especially when both teams can be entertaining to watch, and one of them would be assured of moving on to the next round.
8. Italy vs. Ivory Coast
This would be quite the interesting matchup if it came to fruition. The 2010 World Cup notwithstanding, Italy is a world powerhouse, but the Ivory Coast has an incredible amount of talent and athleticism, and it would be fascinating to watch the two teams clash. Both teams have a lot to prove this summer, as Italy is coming off a terrible tournament four years ago and the Ivory Coast have continuously underachieved in major tournaments, so something would have to give. This match would also give us a look at two of the top strikers in the tournament on the same field in Italy’s Mario Balotelli and Didier Drogba from the Ivory Coast.
7. Brazil vs. Chile
If Chile can find a way to get past either Spain or Holland and finish second in Group B, things will only get tougher for them, as they’ll likely have the Brazilians waiting for them. Obviously, these two are rivals in South America, which would give this match a little more intensity, but it would also be a match between two teams that know how to find the back of the net, so the entertainment value of this match could be limitless.
6. Germany vs. Russia
These two nations have a distinct political history with one another, most notably World War II, but on the pitch these are two young, talented, and exciting teams that would undoubtedly put on a fantastic show if they were to meet in the round of 16. Group G and Group H will be two of the toughest to predict in this tournament, but this may actually be the most probable second round matchup to come out of these two groups, which gives us something to look forward to.
5. Japan vs. Italy
These two teams played quite a compelling match last summer in the 2013 Confederations Cup, with Japan taking a 2-0 lead, the Italians coming back to take a 3-2 lead, Japan tying it at 3-3, only to have the Italians score again late and win 4-3. Anybody who saw that match would love to see a rematch with just as much excitement and goal scoring.
4. Brazil vs. Netherlands
Not only is this matchup possible, it’s probably the most likely scenario for both teams. The Dutch were runners up four years ago and they have a team that can make it back to the finals, but things will be awfully tough for them if they have to face the Brazilians in round two, especially after a couple challenging matches against Spain and Chile in the group stage. This would be a battle between two world powers, and everybody outside these two nations can’t wait to watch it.
3. Mexico vs. Spain
This one is fairly likely to come to fruition, giving us one of those classic soccer matches with colonial undertones from long ago. On the field it could get ugly, considering Spain’s offensive capabilities and Mexico’s profound struggles over the past year, but Mexico could also get an emotional lift from playing the Spaniards and give Spain a tough test.
2. United States vs. Russia
It’s not quite the 1980 Olympics hockey game between the Americans and the Soviet Union, but you can’t look at a matchup of the U.S. and Russia and not think about the long history the two nations have had politically, which would obviously add an extra element to a match that would be incredibly important to both nations from a purely soccer standpoint as well. The U.S. earned a draw in Russia in November 2012, a result that surely didn’t sit well with the Russians, who could be looking for some redemption if they meet the Americans again this summer in what would certainly be a game with a lot of hype and a lot of meaning for both nations.
1. Brazil vs. Spain
Brazil had their way with the Spaniards in the finals of the 2013 Confederations Cup last summer, and while we’d prefer to see this matchup later in the tournament, if one of these teams ends up the runner up in their group, we’re going to see it in the second round. Brazil probably won’t be able to win 3-0 over Spain the way they did last summer, as this would be a highly competitive game between the host nation and the defending world champions.