FIFA Under-20 World Cup: Predicting All 8 Round of 16 Ties

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IJune 30, 2013

The 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup has now reached the knockout stages and, thanks to the somewhat ill-conceived idea of 24-team tournament play, we say goodbye to just eight teams after a total of 36 matches.

The tournament, thus far, has failed to kick into life as hoped, with some major absentees and a lack of atmosphere in the stadia hindering the spectacle.

However, with every match now taking on increased importance, the competition should now begin to live up to expected levels for such a prestigious tournament.

Let's take a look at the Round of 16 ties and attempt to make some predictions as to who will make the quarterfinals.

Spain vs. Mexico

The first of the quarterfinals will pit two of the pre-tournament favourites together, with European Under-19 champions Spain looking to defeat CONCACAF's sole remaining representative Mexico.

The pair's form in Turkey couldn't be more different, though. While Spain sailed through a difficult group with three wins from three matches, Mexico was forced to beat Mali in the final game of Group D to register their first points of the competition.

With that in mind, and considering the serene progression of La Roja to date, it is hard to bet against the European Champions. Prediction: Spain.

Greece vs. Uzbekistan

Runners-up in the European Championship, Greece qualified from Group D in relatively trouble-free fashion, overcoming Mexico before securing draws with Mali and Paraguay.

In the next stage they will now face another of our "lucky losers", in an Uzbekistan side who finished third in Group F.

Greece have the pedigree to win the game comfortably, but the Uzbekis have shown that they have some quality of their own this tournament. A 4-0 defeat to Uruguay, though, must be quickly forgotten. Prediction: Greece.

Nigeria vs. Uruguay

An intriguing encounter between two sides who have played some excellent football, but also looked incredibly fallible thus far in the tournament.

Nigeria ran Portugal close in their opening group fixture, before sealing wins over both South Korea and Cuba to progress. Uruguay, meanwhile, fell short against Croatia before impressive victories over New Zealand and Uzbekistan.

It is one of the hardest encounters in which to call a winner, but Uruguay's better technical quality could be decisive. Prediction: Uruguay.

France vs. Turkey

France came into the tournament as one of the most fancied sides for the title, and despite failing to truly ignite in the group stages, remain one of the favourites for success.

In Turkey, though, they will face a difficult opponent in the next round. A loss to an impressive Colombia side aside, the hosts managed good wins over Australia and El Salvador to progress with ease.

Les Bleuets must respect their opponents, or they could be in for a major shock. The likes of Paul Pogba, Florian Thauvin and Yaya Sanogo should make France too strong for their opponents. Prediction: France.

Portugal vs. Ghana

Another difficult tie to call, despite Ghana's Black Satellites having only crept into the Last 16 by the skin of their teeth. In a group with Spain and France, they will be relieved to have progressed at all.

Portugal, largely thanks to flying winger Bruma, have been free-scoring in front of goal. But there are worrying defensive frailties that Ghana can look to exploit if they can get in possession of the ball.

It is likely to be a game won and lost in midfield, with both sides capable of scoring plenty of goals if required. Portugal will be favorites to succeed, but a Ghana success would be no real shock. Prediction: Portugal.

Croatia vs. Chile

A real battle of two potential candidates to reach the semifinals, with both Croatia and Chile looking like excellent sides at this level.

Croatia will be disappointed to have drawn with Uzbekistan, but were impressive in victories over Uruguay and New Zealand. In Marko Livaja they have an excellent striker who could be key in closer knockout rounds.

Chile, despite progressing to the knockout stages, will be disappointed with their performances so far. Defensive frailties have been a major issue for the South Americans, but they have been a highly impressive unit over the past 12 months. Prediction: Chile.

Colombia vs. South Korea

South American champions Colombia have yet to find top gear at the tournament, but have been comfortable in their progression to this second round.

For Korea, though, it has been a rockier road, with only a narrow victory over a disappointing Cuba side sparing the Asian champions from a disappointing first round exit.

Colombia's star players should be simply too good for their opponents, with playmaker Juan Quintero and striker Jhon Cordoba already in fine fettle. Prediction: Colombia.

Iraq vs. Paraguay

Another difficult tie to predict, with obvious favourites Paraguay coming up against the tournament's surprise package Iraq.

The Iraqi's come into the event with some pedigree, having finished second in Asian qualification while also boasting an experienced squad. Victories over Egypt and a much-changed Chile side were unexpected.

Paraguay, meanwhile, are nominally the weakest of the South American entrants, but are also unbeaten thus far in the tournament. A tough match to call, but the Paraguayan's experience should help. Prediction: Paraguay.


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