With 11 days of the World Cup in the books, the group stage is drawing near its close as Day 12 begins a stretch of four games each day that will decide who advances to the next round.
Group B has already worked itself out as far as who is advancing, but the Netherlands and Chile will battle to decide who wins the group. In the other pair of matches on Monday, Croatia face Mexico needing a win to advance, and Brazil can reign supreme in the group with three points against Cameroon.
Predictions for who will advance look drastically different than they did even a couple of days ago, with surprising results being the norm in Brazil. Let's take a look at how each group currently shakes out.
|Group A Table|
Brazil were expected to stroll to three easy wins despite formidable tests in Group A, but that hasn't quite been the case. They pulled out a decent 3-1 win after sputtering early against Croatia but were held to a scoreless draw against Mexico.
Technically, Brazil could be eliminated if they lose their final match by multiple goals and the Croatians and Mexicans draw to tie all three up at four points. But fortunately for the host nation, they're playing Cameroon, who were just beaten soundly in their opening two matches in Brazil.
Brazil should easily win that match, but then it comes down to Croatia and Mexico. The Mexicans have fought well, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is one of the stars of the tournament. Croatia found their fire against Cameroon with four goals, though, and they have the momentum.
Predictions: Brazil, Croatia
|Group B Table|
Most expected Group B to be wrapped up within two matches, but not with world champions Spain sporting a minus-six goal differential and already bounced from contention.
Alas, the Netherlands and Chile both have clinched their spots in the round of 16 with two opening victories. The Dutch have the goal-differential advantage by just one, so a draw would tilt in their favor.
Chile dominated Australia and followed up with an inspiring victory over Spain. There's no doubt that they'll be a terror in the knockout stage and against the Netherlands, but they simply can't match the Dutch squad's star power.
With the likes of Arjen Robben leading the charge along with a strong defense, the Dutch will wrap up the group and carry their momentum into the knockout phase.
Predictions: Netherlands, Chile
|Group C Table|
Few, if any, groups at the World Cup have worked out like conventional wisdom would suggest. Group C might be the lone exception.
Colombia have been convincing in their opening two matches, picking up all six points against Greece and Ivory Coast—the latter of which clinched their spot in the knockout stage. Ivory Coast come in at second currently.
Japan have threatened at times, and they'll have their say against Colombia if they want to advance. But it will take a win over the South Americans, which seems improbable at best for Japan—who couldn't beat a 10-man Greece side.
Assuming goal differential stays where it's at, all it will take is a draw against reeling Greece for Ivory Coast to advance. And considering the form they've shown throughout stretches in Brazil, three points is much more likely.
Predictions: Colombia, Ivory Coast
|Group D Table|
Oh, you correctly predicted this group back on June 12? Good one.
Group D received plenty of attention with three former world champions—Uruguay, England and Italy—in the group. One of the toughest picks on the World Cup bracket was deciding which two of the three would see their way on.
Costa Rica had something to say about that. They shocked the world by defeating Uruguay 3-1 in their opener, then they outplayed Italy in a 1-0 victory to clinch their spot in the round of 16 and very nearly guarantee them winning the group.
Now, England are eliminated. Italy and Uruguay have one final match with everything on the line—they're tied at three points, so the winner will advance while the loser goes home. The Italians looked horrid against Costa Rica, but they'll be wise to cut out counter opportunities for Uruguay and that's really their only hope of scoring goals.
Predictions: Costa Rica, Italy
|Group E Table|
After years of futility for France in international competition, it's safe to say that they're soaring in Brazil, per Bleacher Report UK:
Most of the doubt surrounding the French has been quelled in the span of two routs, 3-0 over Honduras and 5-2 over Switzerland.
Fascinatingly enough, they haven't yet qualified for the knockout stage—but it would take a loss to Ecuador, Switzerland beating Honduras and both results lopsided enough to erase France's plus-six goal differential. Not happening.
With so much still left to play for, France will keep it going against Ecuador and make it three wins in three matches. That props the door open for the Swiss to get through with any points against Honduras—who lose their two opening matches but are far from an easy out.
Predictions: France, Switzerland
|Group F Table|
Argentina haven't been very convincing in their opening two matches, but they have two wins and are in control heading down the stretch.
With a win or draw against Nigeria, the Argentines will win the group. But since the Nigerians topped Bosnia-Herzegovina and got a crucial three points, it will take an Iran victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina to keep Nigeria from advancing.
Bosnia-Herzegovina have played much better than their 0-2 record in Brazil indicates, and they'll prove it against Iran. It will be tough for the Iranians to get any points, much less three, along with flipping the goal differential in their favor.
Predictions: Argentina, Nigeria
|Group G Table|
Just seconds away from advancing to the knockout stage and taking a lead in Group G, the United States were stunned by a late Portugal goal and ended with a 2-2 draw.
Still, the USA look to be in position to advance. Jurgen Klinsmann's side face Germany next, but the Americans can still get into the knockout stage with a loss if they receive help from the Portugal-Ghana affair.
It will take not just a win for either Ghana or Portugal to advance, but also the hopes of Germany and the U.S. not to draw all along with making up the goal differential deficit. The most likely result remains Germany and the USA getting out of the "group of death."
Predictions: Germany, USA
|Group H Table|
Belgium were expected to dispose of their competition in Group H rather easily. That certainly can't be said after their two matches, but they've snuck out two victories.
That has put the Belgians in the driver's seat entering the final group-stage matches. Thanks to a 1-0 victory from a late Divock Origi goal to beat Russia on Sunday, they have six points through two games and are all but certain to win the group.
After waiting to see who else would emerge in the group, Algeria made a huge statement in a 4-2 win over South Korea. They showed promise at times in their loss to Belgium, but it came full-circle on Sunday.
But Russia are still able to advance out of the group should they beat Algeria in their final affair. The Russians have been far from impressive thus far in Brazil, and Algeria's momentum should carry over to get them into the next round.
Predictions: Belgium, Algeria
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