Did I say that I won’t be doing any predicting until the semifinals? I changed my mind. Normally I would let my predictions I made back on Friday stay as is, but the Round of 16 matched made me rethink a lot of things. Not simply because I got two quarterfinalists wrong — I’ve been wrong in Round of 16 predictions before and shunned them aside — but because of the play of teams in the Round of 16. Here they’re showing more of their strengths and weaknesses and it’s better to tell who will win.
So I will try to make a new set of predictions for the quarterfinals. Interesting how all six teams that topped their group won their Round-Of-16 match. Also interesting how seven of the eight quarterfinalists are European teams. The USA is the only non-European team that won their Round of 16 match. What did it? Jetlag to all those other teams? The same curse on the men’s World Cup that has prevented any non-European team from qualifying for a World Cup semifinal on European soil since 1998? Bad reffing? Or is it because the European teams are simply the most there? You be the judge. Anyways that’s the way it is and here’s how I predict for the quarterfinals:
Norway vs. England: Already for Norway, this is their best WWC result for them since 2007. They won their match against Australia, but on penalty kicks. They will be hard-pressed against England. Don’t forget it was England who ended Norway’s Women’s World Cup run in 2015 with a 1-2 in the Round Of 16. Don’t forget England looked good in their 3-0 win over Cameroon. I will have to go with England here.
France vs. U.S.A.: The U.S.A. looks like they struggled in their game against Spain. They won 2-1, but it was on penalty kicks from Megan Rapinoe. They appeared invincible in their 13-0 win over Thailand, but don’t forget football is opponent vs. opponent and results can differ greatly. France may have won 2-1 over Brazil, but it was in added extra time. So they showed some vulnerability here.
France may have won over the U.S. 3-1 in a friendly back in January, but this is a different day and a different meet. I think the U.S.A. will win, but in added extra time.
Italy vs. Netherlands: Italy, in its first Women’s World Cup in 20 years, but won their first-ever knockout round game against China 2-0. This is also the Netherlands’ first time ever winning a knock-out match at the WWC, and it was up against Japan: last year’s finalist. Both teams also looked great in their group play. Netherlands won all their games while Italy only lost to Brazil.
This is a tight call between the ‘Cinderella team’ of the tournament and the 2017 Women’s Euro winner. Don’t forget both teams will already have their best-ever result at the Women’s World Cup. I will have to say Italy as they’ve won over the Netherlands in head-to-head competition more often.
Germany vs. Sweden: Isn’t that something that this quarterfinal looks like a rematch of the 2016 Olympic final? Germany is one of five teams entering the quarterfinals with straight wins. Sweden’s only loss came to the U.S.A. in group play. Germany was very convincing in their 3-0 win against Nigeria. Sweden may have won against Canada 1-0 but they proved the can be a strong team.
I predict it will be Germany that wins as they have appeared the strongest. Also because they haven’t conceded a single goal in the tournament. And also Germany has won against Sweden more than they’ve lost in head-to-head competition.
And there you have it. My new predictions for the quarterfinals. Funny how watching play gives you second-thoughts. Right now I’m tempted to predict that the WWC final will be the U.S.A. vs. Germany. But it’s wrong to jump the gun. So let the play decide!
The Group Stage has been contested. Those 36 games delivered a lot in terms of excitement and thrills. There were even surprises. Who would have thought it would be Italy that would top Group C? Also we knew the USA would beat Thailand, but who expected a score of 13-0? Also it’s interesting to note that none of the debut teams qualified for the Round Of 16, but they deserve respect. Chile was the one debut team that achieved a win and Scotland was the debut team that scored the most goals. Even Jamaica and South Africa gave themselves their first-ever WWC goal.
Whatever the situation, the 24 at the beginning had to be reduced to 16 and now that it’s decided, it’s off to the knockout rounds.
ROUND OF 16 PREDICTIONS
Makes better sense that it be called the Round of 16 than the ‘Eighth-Finals.’ With this being a contest of 24 teams, the Round of 16 is a case where the Top 2 teams from each group plus the four best third-place teams qualify for this round. By the time all the second-games were played, it became evident that four game points, the equivalent of a win and a draw, guaranteed qualification. However there would still be at least two teams with a win and two losses that were lucky enough to qualify. Anyways all the qualifiers have been decided as well as who plays who. Interesting how eight European teams and eight non-European teams qualified. Also interesting how each Round of 16 game is a case of a European team against a team outside Europe. Interesting.
Here are my predictions with my winner prediction bolded:
Norway (Group A 2nd) vs. Australia (Group C 2nd): This is hard to tell. Norway have been playing well despite France showing their weaknesses. Australia have performed well but they too faced exposure of their vulnerability thanks to Italy. I give it to Australia not just on play here, but also because Australia beat Norway in a game last year.
England (Group D Winner) vs. Cameroon (Group B/E/F 3rd): England made it through Group D with straight wins. Cameroon made it through by winning their last Group E match against New Zealand. They’re lucky they were able to score again after that own-goal. I’d say this game is England’s to take.
France (Group A Winner) vs. Brazil (Group C/D/E 3rd): France hopes as host nation they’d win all three of their Group Stage games and they did. Brazil won two games and lost to Australia. Because of goal differentials, they finished third in their group. For the winner here, I’ll pick France because Brazil has never won against France.
Spain (Group B 2nd) vs. U.S.A. (Group F Winner): One of the big surprises of this WWC was Spain. They won against South Africa, drew against China and only lost 1-0 to Germany. The US winning Group F was no surprise, but their 13-0 win over Thailand was! For this match, I expect the U.S.A. to win. We might even see another big score!
Italy (Group C Winner) vs. China (Group A/B/F 3rd): China qualifying was not a surprise. Italy topping Group C was a surprise. Especially since they surpassed more lauded teams like Australia and Brazil. It’s hard to predict who will win since China last played Italy back in 2008. I’d have to say Italy because they’ve been better at scoring at this Women’s World Cup.
Netherlands (Group E Winner) vs. Japan (2nd. Group D): This is a tough call. We have the finalist at the last WWC playing against the winner of the 2017 Women’s Euro. I will have to go with The Netherlands because they have been better at winning and scoring at this Women’s World Cup.
Germany (Group B Winner) vs. Nigeria (Group A/C/D 3rd): The reigning Olympic champions Germany have won all their group play games. Nigeria only had a single win, but hung on to qualify. I’m going with Germany because of their consistency.
Sweden (Group F 2nd.) vs. Canada (Group E 2nd.): This is interesting as both teams finished second in their group and both did it with two wins and a loss. Both are Olympic medalists from Rio: Sweden the silver medalist and Canada the bronze medalist. I’ll go with Canada, but to win on penalty kicks.
Provided my predictions for the Round of 16 winners hold true, here are my predictions for the quarterfinals:
Australia vs. England: Australia has only won once in their five meetings with England. I will have to go with England here.
France vs. U.S.A.: The USA appears invincible but keep in mind France beat them 3-1 in a friendly back in January. I’m going with France, but in added extra time.
Italy vs. The Netherlands: Italy may have been a surprise but I think this is where things are going to run out and thing will go in the advantage of the Netherlands.
Germany vs. Canada: This is going to be a tight game as it’s against two of the biggest in the world. I will have to say Germany.
And there you have it. Those are my predictions for the Round of 16 and the Quarterfinals. You won’t be hearing from me again until just before the semifinals. So stay toond!
I have to say it was a very good Group Stage. There was a lot of excitement and a lot of drama. There was a lot of great scoring and a lot of excitement on who’s going to win the Golden Boot. Right now, England’s Harry Kane leads with 5. There was a lot of good play. Only a single game that ended in a 0-0 draw. Also only three red cards: one instant. So it’s good to see the players behaving themselves and sticking to playing well. Argentina almost became the shocker as it almost didn’t qualify, but they made it in their last game. Instead, defending champs Germany were the biggest shocker. The non-qualifications of Poland and Nigeria were also shockers too. And to think of the methods FIFA uses to break ties and send one team with the exact same game stats as the other home while the other qualified. That’s what happened Thursday when Group H ended with Japan and Senegal in a tie with a win, a draw, a loss and even goal differentials. Japan got the edge, and the Round of 16 berth because of less yellow cards amassed. Talk about tight!
Anyways after all that, the field of 32 took 48 games to reduce the field to 16 remaining in contention. From this point on, every game leading to the World Cup will be a knockout round meaning a winner has to be decided. If no winner after regulation, that will mean added extra time of two 15-minute rounds. If no winner after that, then it will start with a 5-set of penalty kicks. If still no winner, then a single-round to get a hit and a miss to decide. That’s how it’s done.
ROUND OF 16
This is the first of it. The round to reduce the field of the 16 who qualified after Thursday to the eight to play in the quarterfinals. Interesting hoe many surprises there were in the tournament. Anyways onto my review of the Round of 16 matches:
URUGUAY vs PORTUGAL
This is a case of two teams going through one of their best eras on a long time. Uruguay has had their best era in decades and Portugal has had their best era… ever! Both even generated a superstar of their own with Uruguay shelling out Luis ‘Chewy Louie’ Suarez and Portugal shelling out Cristiano ‘CR7’ Ronaldo.
As for teams, Uruguay is one of three teams at this World Cup that won all three of their World Cup matches. Portugal may have had a win and two draws, but they did prove that they can deliver when it matters most. You put the pressure on Portugal, they will deliver. It’s hard to tell who will win since the last time the two countries faced off against each other was all the way back in 1972. I will have to predict Portugal, but on penalty kicks. I think they have what it takes to go the distance against Uruguay. They are a team of surprises.
FRANCE vs. ARGENTINA
France has been showing for years what a strong team unit they are. In fact they almost won the Euro in their backyard in 2016. France has been exhibiting the same team unity and same strength throughout the tournament. Argentina has been struggling. First was their draw against Iceland, then a 3-0 loss to Croatia, but then rallying back with a win against Nigeria.
The only way I can see Argentina winning against France is if the strength they had against Nigeria is carried over. In the meantime, I hate to piss off Messi fans but I think France will win.
SPAIN vs. RUSSIA
For Russia, their qualification to the Round of 16 is a triumph on home soil. This is the first time ever as the Russian Federation that they qualified. This is also the first time to the knockout round since the Soviet team last did it in 1986. Spain’s qualification is also a triumph. You know this year it’s all about Germany failing to qualify? Well if you remember Spain was the defending Cup champions in 2014 and they were the ones that fell apart in the Group Stage that time. So their return is a big relief.
As far as team performance, it looks like Spain is the most skilled and the most organized. They’ve been known to play brilliantly even in the games they draw in. So I will have to pick Spain to win this.
CROATIA vs. DENMARK
Great to see Croatia deliver awesome play in their three wins. Also great to see their fans behave themselves in the stands this time. Denmark’s play has not been the most spectacular, but it has been consistent enough for them to nab their first Round of 16 berth in 16 years.
For the win, I will have to pick Croatia. I cannot see Denmark outperforming them here.
BRAZIL vs. MEXICO
Two teams hungry for victory. Mexico want to win its first knockout round game since they hosted in 1986 and Brazil wants to return to the top after their Massacre At The Mineirao in 2014. Mexico performed brilliantly during their first two games just before falling to Sweden 3-0. Brazil started off weak with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland but came back to win both their other matches.
Both teams have met many times before with Brazil winning most of the games. Though Mexico has beat them at times. Brazil’s last loss to Mexico was in 2012. I will predict Brazil to win, but only in added extra time.
BELGIUM vs. JAPAN
Lots of talk of no African teams in the Round of 16, but what’s also noteworthy is that Asian teams did very well here in Russia. While all AFC qualifiers failed to win a match in Brazil 2014, AFC teams in Russia won a total of four matches and Japan qualified for the Round of 16. As for Belgium, they showed brilliance in world Cup qualification play and they took their brilliance here in Russia as they’ve won all their games here.
Because of that, I predict Belgium to win.
SWEDEN vs. SWITZERLAND
Sweden keeps on surpassing any expectations you place on them. They outpoint the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying to get a playoff round, they outperform Italy in the playoff round to qualify for the World Cup, and they top Group F en route to qualifying! Who needs Zlatan anyways? Switzerland will also show their power when you least expect it as they drew 1-1 against Brazil here in Russia and beat Serbia.
Sweden and Switzerland have even past results against each other and their last meeting together was all the way back in 2002. I’m anticipating this to draw into penalty kicks, upon which Switzerland will win.
COLOMBIA vs. ENGLAND
This makes it the first time Colombia has made it to the knockout round in two consecutive World Cups. They started on a weak note losing 2-1 to Japan, but have won both games since. England can take pride that this World Cup puts to rest the humiliation of 2014 where they not only failed to make it past the Group Stage, but failed to win a single game. This time they won their first two matches and even has Harry Kane in the hunt for the Golden Boot Award.
England has never lost to Colombia in the five previous times they met. So I will go with England, but in added extra time.
Let’s just assume that my predictions for the Round Of 16 wins turn out right. Here are my picks:
France vs. Portugal
Portugal may have beaten France at Euro 2016, but France has beaten Portugal more often. I will have to go with France here.
Spain vs. Croatia
Spain has won against Croatia more often, but Croatia has the edge as they beat Spain at the 2016 European Championships. I will say Croatia here.
Brazil vs. Belgium
The two have met only four times before, but Brazil’s last loss to Belgium was in 1963. I will predict Brazil to win this game.
Switzerland vs. England
If my prediction does hold true, then this will be Switzerland’s first trip to the Top 8 since they hosted in 1954. The last time Switzerland beat England was back in 1981. So I have to pick England here.
And there you have my predictions for the Round of 16 and the Quarterfinals. I will save my predictions for the semis and the finals until they are decided. Which means you will all have to wait until next Sunday, at the earliest, to read them!
That’s the Group Stage for you. All four teams in each group play each other and have to prove in those 270 minutes and then some if they deserve to move on. Sixteen teams proved themselves worthy and it’s up to a single match in the Round of 16 to narrow the field of 16 down to 8 and the quarterfinals to reduce the field of 8 down to 4. So here are my predictions for the next two rounds:
ROUND OF 16
First off the Round of 16. This is the first Euro ever to have such a round. That’s what happens when you increase the number of teams from 16 to 24. Similar confusing format as the Women’s World Cup last year, if not the same. And here are my predictions with my picks for the winner in bold.
Switzerland (Group A 2nd) vs. Poland (Group C 2nd): This makes it the first Euro for either team to qualify for the knockout round. This is also the first Euro Poland won their first game. Also who would’ve expected that draw to Germany? I believe further success will come Poland’s way as they have been excellent. Also Switzerland has never won against Poland. They may have drawn in a friendly almost a year and a half ago but Poland has always beat Switzerland.
Wales (Group B Winner) vs. Northern Ireland (Wildcard: Group C): You could attribute Wales coming out on top because of Gareth Bale but it is a whole team effort. Also Northern Ireland knew how to deliver in their surprise win over Ukraine 2-0 which was enough to give them the berth here. The two have played each other eight times before with Wales winning three times, NI once and four draws. Their most recent match was a friendly back in March where they drew 1-1. I feel this will lead to a draw that will go to penalty kicks where Wales will win.
Croatia (Winner Group D) vs. Portugal (Wildcard: Group F): Normally I would predict Portugal to win this, especially since Portugal beat Croatia the three previous times they’ve met. However you just have to watch the play of these two teams here to get a good sense who will win. Croatia has been playing brilliantly despite their games plagued by obnoxious flare-throwing fans. However Portugal has struggled in their lineup and they have not appeared all that together. In fact you’d expect a team like Portugal to qualify with more than just three straight draws. I will give it to Croatia to win. They definitely look like a team that’s on. Note: If Croatia wins, this will be the first Euro where Croatia wins a knockout game.
France (Winner Group A) vs. Republic of Ireland (Wildcard: Group E): As host nation, France had to do well. However they already had a talented enough squad to take them through the first round. Actually many people are thinking France has what it takes to win. Ireland have to have the ‘luck of the Irish’ that they were able to qualify after their win against Italy. They had a tie and a loss and appeared in danger of heading out. It’s either the luck of winning or Italy just wanting to take it easy knowing they finished first in their group. It almost seems like a forgone conclusion for France to win. Besides their last loss to Ireland was all the way back in the 80’s. It’s fair to pick France.
Germany (Winner Group C) vs. Slovakia (Wildcard: Group B): Germany won their group as expected. This was Slovakia’s first Euro so a chance for themselves to prove themselves in front of the whole continent. They did very well in tying England and beating Russia. You think they should be invincible against Slovakia, right? Not so fast! Germany may have beat Slovakia in three of the five times they met but their last meeting was a month ago in a friendly and it was SLOVAKIA that won 3-1. So I predict the game will go to a draw even in extra time. However I predict Germany to win on penalty kicks. I have a hunch that’s what it will come down to. The only sure thing about Germany is a blemish-free penalty kick result.
Hungary (Winner Group F) vs. Belgium (Group E 2nd): A case of two teams. One is a team playing better than their country ever has. Another you could rightfully call the ‘comeback kids.’ However it’s better to say Hungary proved you can’t call them a ‘blast from the past’ anymore. Hungary has a team that’s ready to return their country to glory. However Hungary’s comeback is not immediate. It’s slow but sure. However I think the Round of 16 is the furthest they’ll be getting right now. Besides Belgium has never lost to Hungary in the times they’ve played each other. I predict Belgium to win.
Italy (Winner Group E) vs. Spain (Group D 2nd): How about that? Two teams that have a stellar reputation in football. Two teams that had an embarrassing Group Stage ouster during the 2014 World Cup. Two teams that played very well in the Euro 2016 group stage. And only one will still be in the running and one other will be out in the Round of 16. There may be concern since both teams lost their last game. However Italy decided to send in some lesser-skilled players for their match against Ireland since they knew they’d finish first in Group E anyways. Spain on the other hand started brilliantly and ended up giving their 1st place ranking away to Croatia. The two have known to have a colorful rivalry with Italy last defeating Spin in 2011. However I think Italy will win in added extra time.
England (Group B 2nd) vs. Iceland (Group F 2nd): England qualifying is not a surprise. Here in Euro 2016, they’re back in a familiar position. Iceland however has been the big surprise of the tournament with 1-1 draws against Hungary and Portugal and a last-second goal giving them a 2-1 win over Austria. The funniest thing is that whenever you see 25,000 Icelandics waving their flag in the stadiums, you’re reminded at least 5% of Iceland’s population is there. Yes, pound-for-pound Iceland has proven themselves in recent years to be the top football team in the world, especially during Euro 2016. However I think Icelandic luck will end here. England has only played Iceland once before and won but that was back in 2004. I’m sure England will win again here although definitely by a smaller margin.
It is tradition that I make quarterfinal predictions. For each quarterfinal, I assume each prediction I make for the Round of 16 is true, though you know it’s not always the case. Whatever the situation, here goes:
Croatia vs. Poland: Croatia is the best it’s ever been at a Euro as is Poland. Poland is actually the best it’s been in decades. However both Croatia and Poland have met five times in the past with Croatia winning three times and Poland once. I predict Croatia to win again but in added extra time.
Wales vs. Belgium: Wales and Belgium have met ten times before with Wales winning three times and Belgium four. I predict this will go to a draw in added extra time and Belgium will win on penalty kicks.
Germany vs. Italy: Traditionally Italy has been known as Germany’s ‘Achilles Heel.’ Germany has lost to Italy on many big occasions like the semifinals of both the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012. However Germany turned the tables in a friendly three months ago and won 4-1. I predict Germany to win again here.
England vs. France: A familiar rivalry. England has won in 17 of the 30 previous meetings. However the tabled turned for France starting in 1999 and the odds would be in their favor with wins or draws. However England got back their advantage back in a friendly in November and won 2-0. I think however France will have the advantage with the home crowd.
And there are my predictions for the first two knockout rounds. That’s how I see things but I know there will be at least one surprise or two. Pele has always said “Football is a box of surprises.” Expect to see some here in the next few rounds. And I’ll see you all again in the semis.
The Group Stage has been contested over the past two weeks. Some results did go as widely predicted and some were surprises. Who thought Cameroon would come second in their group? Who thought Colombia would beat France? And who thought Group D would be that close? A group with three teams in FIFA’s Top 10 would be a tough group. Whatever the situation, the 24 at the beginning had to be reduced to 16 and now that it’s decided, it’s off to the knockout rounds.
Round of 16
First off the Round of 16. It’s not like the men’s World Cup where it’s just the Top2 from the group that qualify. This WWC is now going to the format of the men’s World Cups from 1986 to 1994 where it’s the Top 2 plus the four best third-place teams. Ah, nothing makes any real sense. Whatever the situation, here are my predictions with my winner prediction bolded:
China (Group A 2nd) vs. Cameroon (Group B 2nd): This is a hard one to predict since neither team have played each other in the past. China is performing well especially for such a young team–for the record no Chinese player is older than 26– but Cameroon have been pulling some surprises. They won 6-0 against Ecuador, beat Switzerland and was the only team to score a single goal against Japan. I will have to predict Cameroon to win this match because of the excitement they’ve been delivering in their performances.
USA (Group D Winner) vs. Colombia (Group B/E/F 3rd): Colombia has been one of the surprises of the Cup so far but I believe this is where their magic will come to an end. The US are tops on talent and experience. Colombia have accomplished a lot here but they’re still growing as a team while the US is among the top in the world. So that’s why I predict the US for an easy win.
Germany (Group B Winner) vs. Sweden (Group A/D 3rd): If there’s one Round of 16 match that can deliver a surprise, it’s this match. Both teams are raked in FIFA’s Top 5 and both are capable of surprising the top countries. As for past stats, they’ve played each other three times before with Sweden winning twice and Germany once. However Germany has been playing brilliantly and powerfully and Sweden has drawn in all three of their games. That’s why Germany is my pick for this match but in extra time.
France (Group F Winner) vs. South Korea (Group E 2nd): There’s not too much to build upon in terms of past results. They’ve only met once before with France winning 1-0. However I would have to make my judgment upon the teams’ game play here. France was excellent but did expose their weaknesses with their 2-0 loss to Colombia. South Korea is a team still learning and playing. With that in mind I will have to pick France.
Brazil (Group E Winner) vs. Australia (Group D 2nd): How about that? Brazil was the first team to clinch #1 in their group after only two games. Shows that Marta and the girls are on target. Australia are also phenomenal as they’ve been playing with consistency by winning against Nigeria and drawing against Sweden. May make FIFA want to rethink their current #10 status. However even though Australia want this to be the World Cup where they finally win a knockout game, I don’t think the Matildas will win here. Brazil has played them eleven times and won seven. I have to go with Brazil on this one.
Japan (Group C Winner) vs. Netherlands (Group A/F 3rd): Another pair that will meet together for the first time at this World Cup. This is actually easier to predict. Japan has been dominating while the Netherlands are learning and getting better over time. However I don’t think they will have enough to defeat the defending Cup champions. I believe Japan will take it.
Norway (Group B 2nd) vs. England (Group F 2nd): One thing about the Three Lionesses is that some people on Twitter are saying they can teach the men a thing or two. England has been brilliant this tournament but Norway has proven themselves great performers too. Their ‘blast from the past’ thing seems to be just a myth and are able to prove themselves again. Predicting this game won’t be easy especially since they’ve only played each other once before and Norway won 2-0. For this, I will have to go with England in extra time. Norway has shown improvements over time but I don’t think it will be enough here.
Canada (group A Winner) vs. Switzerland (Group C 3rd): I will have to be frank and honest here. I’m happy of Canada’s progress but judging by their play over the past few days, I don’t think they’re playing like they deserve to win the Cup. They will really have to step up their game if they want to win the World Cup or even progress further. Basing a prediction on head-to-head play only adds to the confusion. Wikipedia says they’ve played each other four times with Canada winning three while FIFA says they’ve never played head-to-head ever. As for Switzerland, they’re getting better. This is their first World Cup and they’re improving. However I don’t think they’re at the same level of play as Canada. That’s why I predict Canada to win this match. And Canada better win! Because that’s the Round of 16 game I’m seeing!
Updated: June 24, 2015
I was going to leave my original predictions for the quarterfinals but seeing the number of hits this post has been getting has caused me to change a couple of matches. So here are my predictions for the quarterfinals:
Germany vs. France: If you think Germany’s Round of 16 match against Sweden will be a nailbiter, the nailbiting won’t be over yet as I believe they will face France in the quarterfinals. However Germany has been next to dominant while France has shown in their loss to Colombia their reputation of choking at big meets. That’s why I’m leaning towards Germany.
China vs. USA: China is a former great country in women’s football seeing to make a comeback. It appears their ‘young team’ has paid off because they have made it to the quarterfinals. However this is where I feel their comeback will stop. The US is more experienced, more familiar with being a dominator, and they know how to deliver. That’s why the US is my unanimous pick for the win here.
Australia vs. Japan: Australia are the surprise of the tournament. Everyone thought Brazil would be the team in the Round of 16 but Simon seized the moment. However this is where the Matilda’s magic will end. I’m going to have to side with Japan on this one not just of how they’re doing now but of the last four years of head-to-head play. Australia and Japan have met many times but only won one game and that was back in 2010.
Canada vs. England: Okay, both team played well but both showed weaknesses. England may have lost to France but they won against Mexico and Colombia. Canada won against China but drew their two other games. I feel this will be a tight match that will draw down to penalty kicks which will be won by, believe it or not, England. Hey, the English men may have a reputation of being complete rubbish at penalty kicks but the lasses may tell another story.
And there you go. Those are my WWC predictions so far. I have no plans to make any more WWC predictions until the semi-finals. Stay tuned until then!
The Group Stage was held these past two weeks for the same reason time and time again at each World Cup: to separate the contenders from the pretenders. There were some surprises both in terms of who qualified and who were ousted. The big name countries that were ousted were some of the biggest news. Nevertheless those that qualified got their moment in the sun.
Now begins the knockout rounds to determine the two teams in contention for the Cup. However the first round of the playoff stage will be the Round of 16. The Group Stage not only decided the two advancers from each of the eight groups but also determined who plays who in the knockout stage. Heck they’ll even go to the ever-dreaded penalty kicks to get a winner. One thing about this phase is that it’s organized so that neither of the two qualifiers from the Group Stage meet again until they are both lucky enough to both reach the final.
So without further ado, here are my predictions for the first set of the knockout phases. I will consider both their play exhibited in the Group Stage and their head-to-head play in past matches:
ROUND OF 16
-Brazil (Group A 1st) vs. Chile (Group B 2nd): Brazil and Chile sure have a habit of meeting each other at the World Cup. First time was in 1962 in the semifinals when Chile was host nation. Brazil won 4-2. Next time was in 1998 in the Round of 16: Brazil won again 4-1. The next time was in 2010 again in the Round of 16: Brazil won again 3-0. Look who play in the first Round of 16 match?
In terms of looking at the teams, Brazil has been excellent but has a habit of slowing down when they shouldn’t. Just ask Mexico. Chile has been very good and proved they can rise to the occasion against even the heavy favorites like Spain. Netherlands however gave them a reminder how they still have a ways to go.
My prediction for this round will be Brazil to win. No way is Brazil going to lose in front of their home country. Not with the memories of the Maracanazo in mind. Yes, I’ll post that flashback soon.
NOTE: One thing I’ve noticed is that every first-game of the Round of 16 begins on a good and often thrilling note. I still remember USA 1994 and seeing the first Round of 16 match: Germany vs. Belgium. Three goals scored in the first fifteen minutes. Also a bit of trivia. The first Round of 16 game has never gone to penalty kicks. Let’s hope it stays this way this year.
-Colombia (Group C 1st) vs. Uruguay (Group D 2nd): Funny thing about the first day of the Round of 16 is that it might make you think you’re watching the Copa America instead. Actually one thing about the South American countries is that they’re very thorough in their play against each other. While some continents contest a few countries against each other for a World Cup berth or even half the countries, all South American countries play each other twice to determine the qualifiers. Each of the countries know each other very well from the play. They know their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s possible that even the best South American team can be defeated by a South American team that doesn’t have the legacy or the higher FIFA ranking. Sometimes it makes you wonder if it’s harder to win a continental championship than the World Cup. Not just for South America but for all continents.
Both Colombia and Uruguay have played each other a lot over they years. They’ve both won some and they’ve lost some. Uruguay has won more but Colombia has won more in recent years. My pick for the winner will be Colombia. However don’t be surprised if the match goes to penalty kicks to decide the winner.
-Netherlands (Group B 1st) vs. Mexico (Group A 2nd): Most people at the beginning were writing the Netherlands off, especially from their three losses in the Euro 2012 Group Stage. They didn’t show much sign of improvement. That is, until they stepped on the field against Spain. There they reduced the defending Cupholders to size and continued with impressive wins against Australia and Chile. Orange magic was back. Mexico themselves had low expectations. However it took consistent play from them, and even proving to be a tough match for Brazil, to send the message they haven’t lost it.
My pick for the win is the Netherlands. They have been a scoring machine since the start of the Cup and they don’t show signs of slowing down.
-Costa Rica (Group D 1st) vs. Greece (Group C 2nd): Of all the pair-ups in this Round of 16, this is the only pair that has never played against each other even once before. Costa Rica has been the ‘Cinderella team’ of this World Cup so far with their wins against heavy favorites Uruguay and Italy. Greece has also had a ‘Cinderella’ moment here at the World Cup. With a loss and a tie, they appeared close to elimination before playing the Ivory Coast. However Greece had a surprise. And repeating their surprise from Euro 2012 when a win against Russia in their last Group Stage game, and also with a loss and a tie, helped them advance.
I’ll have to go with Costa Rica because they’ve been better at winning here at the World Cup. But don’t rule out Greece causing a surprise.
-France (Group E 1st) vs. Nigeria (Group F 2nd): France has impressed the football world with their comeback here at the World Cup. The 5-2 win over Switzerland sure showed Les Bleus are back. Nigeria is also another comeback team. They tied Iran, won against Bosnia and gave Argentina a good fight in their 3-2 loss against them. Nigeria advanced for the first time in 16 years and for the third time in their history, making them the first African nation to advance past the Group Stage three times.
I’m normally one to rely on head-to-head stats. If I did, I’d pick Nigeria as they won their one head-to-head match. However I give it to France for their brilliant play they’ve been showing.
-Germany (Group G 1st) vs. Algeria (Group H 2nd): Germany just keep on showing their consistency. The sixteenth straight World Cup where they advance past the Group Stage and the seventh straight World Cup where they finish the Group Stage #1 in their group. Algeria however are having their best ever World Cup. Their first World Cup where they advance past the Group Stage. It was a brilliant 4-2 win against South Korea that solidified their chances.
Now the hard part. Predicting the winner. Normally I’d pick Germany because of their consistency and the fact they’ve made the Top 8 every year since 1954. However I’m reminded at the FIFA site that Germany has played Algeria twice before and lost both times. I’ll say Germany but don’t be surprised if this takes penalty kicks to decide.
-Argentina (Group F 1st) vs. Switzerland (Group F 2nd): Argentina continue showing their consistency even though their wins have been lax. One thing is that Lionel Messi has come back and has scored four goals. Switzerland has been mostly consistent in their play and they didn’t let their 5-2 defeat from France bring them down.
I pick Argentina and not just because of their play. FIFA stats show that Argentina and Switzerland have met six times before. Argentina has won four timed and they drew twice. I don’t think this will be the place Switzerland will get their first win against Messi and the boys.
-Belgium (Group H 1st) vs. U.S.A. (Group G 2nd): Belgium is back. They’ve been questions whether they deserved their ‘seeded’ status during the draw but they’ve won all three of their games, even though with small results like 2-1, 1-0 and 1-0. USA keep writing new chapters for themselves. They deliver an impressive record in the Group Stage to qualify for the Round of 16 for the second time in a row. To think the USA used to be a joke in the football world. Not anymore.
I pick Belgium. yes, the USA has shown they can put up a great fight with even the best of them. However I will rely on the head-to-head stats where the USA has beaten Belgium one time in the five times they’ve met. The last game they played was a friendly less than a year ago which Belgium won 4-2.
For this part, I will assume the quarterfinal match-ups go with my Round of 16 winner predictions.
-France vs. Germany
-Brazil may not like this because they’ve had bad luck against France in the previous three World Cup meetings. I predict France because they’ve had better head-to-head play against Germany.
-Brazil vs. Colombia
I predict Brazil. At first many thought they’d crumble under pressure but they have poured it on against Croatia and Cameroon.
-Argentina vs. Belgium
Argentina’s won three of the four times they’ve played Belgium. It’s likely to stay that way here.
-Netherlands vs. Costa Rica
Oranje and the Ticos have never faced each other before. However Netherlands is skilled enough a team to bring Costa Rica’s ‘Cinderella story’ to an end.
Okay, I’ll save my actual predictions for the semifinals and finals once we learn of the true winners of the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals. My coarse predictions for the semis, should my predictions actually all turn out right, is Argentina beating Netherlands and Brazil finally beating France. Netherlands will win the 3rd-place match and Brazil will win the Cup. In the meantime, those Round of 16 and quarterfinals predictions are my actual predictions for now.