The World Cup is apparently immune to boring moments.
OK, so there have been a couple of snoozers, but the prestigious tournament has mostly provided an endless run of thrills and scintillating play.
Sunday was no different.
Belgium got a game-winner against Russia in the final moments, Algeria topped South Korea in a 4-2 goal fest and Portugal grabbed a buzzer-beating goal in the 95th minute to secure an enthralling, back-and-forth 2-2 draw against the United States.
As groups now begin to play their final matches, let's take a look at what awaits on Monday.
Day 11 Results
|2014 World Cup: Day 11 Scores|
Day 12 Fixtures
|Monday, June 23, 2014 Schedule and Predictions|
|Group||Match||Local Time||Time (ET)||Time (BST)||Prediction|
|B||Australia vs. Spain||1 p.m.||Noon||5 p.m.||Spain, 2-0|
|B||Netherlands vs. Chile||1 p.m.||Noon||5 p.m.||Chile, 3-2|
|A||Cameroon vs. Brazil||5 p.m||4 p.m.||9 p.m.||Brazil, 3-0|
|A||Croatia vs. Mexico||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||9 p.m.||Draw, 1-1|
With two matches now being played at the same time for the next four days, picking which one to watch could get difficult. But that won't be a problem with Group B: Australia and Spain are eliminated, while Netherlands and Chile play for the group.
In the "consolation bracket," the Socceroos are just happy to be playing in Brazil (and played extremely well against both Chile and Netherlands), while the disappointing Spaniards just want to go home (and played extremely poorly against both Chile and Netherlands). Still, Australia is without Tim Cahill, and Spain will be playing for pride. Expect talent to finally win out for Vicente del Bosque's side.
On the top of the table, not only will Netherlands vs. Chile be more important, but it will be far more thrilling. SoccerByIves.net's Ives Galarcep put it simply:
The Oranje's attack has looked transcendent at times, while Chile's work rate and ball pressure open up lots of opportunities. The former only need a draw to win the group, but the latter will increase the pace.
Simply put, there are going to be a lot of goals. With no Robin van Persie (two yellow cards) for Louis van Gaal's side, though, the Chileans will earn the three points.
The Group A matches take place two hours later. Some have suggested Brazil can play based on what Group B team they want to face in the round of 16, but Luiz Felipe Scolari rubbished those claims, telling reporters:
People are wrong when they think we are able to choose our next opponent. Either they’re stupid or ill-intended. ... People put us in a difficult position when they say we can choose our opponent. It’s disrespectful towards Cameroon.
The Selecao have been uninspiring in their first two matches. Don't be surprised if they come out and make a statement against a Cameroon side without Alex Song before the knockout stages begin.
Finally, we have Mexico vs. Croatia. Memo Ochoa provided one of the performances of the tournament in a 0-0 draw against Brazil, but that didn't erase Luka Modric's confidence, via ESPN's Tom Marshall:
The Croatians boast an extremely talented midfield of Ivan Rakitic, Modric, Ivan Perisic, Sammir and Ivica Olic behind striker Mario Mandzukic, who was dominant against Cameroon. However, El Tri have yet to give up a goal this tournament and only need a draw to advance.
Of course, that's not to say Mexico will park the bus.
"We have to attack them," manager Miguel Herrera told the media. "Brazil attacked them. Marking and defensive work is difficult for them."
It's a risky strategy, but if Mexico sits back, they will lose. If they can control possession and avoid Croatia getting too many crosses into Mandzukic, though, it will be enough to at least get a draw.
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