The final round of the 2014 World Cup group stage fixtures will kick off on Monday, with the majority of tickets for the knockout stages still up for grabs. All teams will have one final chance to show what they do on the biggest stage, and the next four days of competition will be packed with drama and emotion.
Teams like Spain and England have little to play for other than honour, but the likes of Germany and Italy face a real battle to even make it out of their groups despite winning their opening matches.
Here's the full schedule for all of the final group stage fixtures:
|2014 World Cup Group Stage Final Fixtures|
|June 23||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Netherlands||Chile|
|5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Australia||Spain|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Cameroon||Brazil|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Croatia||Mexico|
|June 24||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Italy||Uruguay|
|5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Costa Rica||England|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Japan||Colombia|
|10 p.m. BST/5 p.m. ET||Greece||Ivory Coast|
|June 25||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Nigeria||Argentina|
|5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Iran|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Honduras||Switzerland|
|10 p.m. BST/5 p.m. ET||Ecuador||France|
|June 26||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Portugal||Ghana|
|5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||USA||Germany|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||South Korea||Belgium|
|9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Algeria||Russia|
Hosts Brazil lead Group A on goal difference, and they'll take on already eliminated Cameroon on Monday. Mexico and Croatia will go head-to-head in the other Group A match, and the only way for Brazil to miss out on the knockout stages is a heavy loss against Cameroon (3-0 or more) coupled with a Croatian win or draw against Mexico.
Croatia may very well defeat Mexico, or at least grab a point, but it's unlikely Cameroon will topple the Brazilians by more than three goals. The Indomitable Lions have failed to impress during the tournament so far, and they'll be without the suspended Alex Song in their final fixture.
The real battle will be between Croatia and Mexico, and for El Tri, a single point will do. The Croatians hold the advantage on goal difference, however, and given their powerful attack led by Mario Mandzukic, they're a danger to score at any given time.
Prediction: Brazil, Croatia advance
Chile and the Netherlands have already secured their spots in the next round, and both teams will play each other on Monday, the winner most likely avoiding a clash with Brazil in the round of 16.
Prediction: Chile, the Netherlands advance
Colombia will play Japan, having already secured their spot in the next round. Ivory Coast could still leapfrog the Colombians for the top spot, but in order to do so, they'll have to find a way to overcome a four-goal deficit in goal differential.
Greece and Japan can still qualify, and the mission at hand is very simple for both sides—win their final match. Greece would have to depend on Colombia beating Japan, with the goal difference tie-breaker most likely going to the Samurai Blue.
The Greek team have struggled for creativity so far, and they don't have either the talent or the athleticism to defeat the Ivorians. Ivory Coast have never made it past the group stages, however, so the pressure will be on the African side.
Prediction: Colombia, Ivory Coast advance
Costa Rica have already qualified for the knockout stages, and unless the Central Americans lose big against England and the winner of Italy v Uruguay scores enough to push goal difference in their favour, the surprising Costa Rican side will end the group stages at the top of Group D.
Italy and Uruguay will play for the second ticket to the round of 16, and all the Azzurri need is a draw thanks to a superior goal difference. Via football-italia, pass-master Andrea Pirlo told reporters the Italians haven't even considered a possible defeat:
Am I worried? No. We are all aware that this is a crucial match, but we are equally aware that we are a strong team with destiny in our own hands.
It would be a big disappointment for me and for the whole team to go out now, but it is not something we have thought about.
We are preparing to go through to the next round. Leaving [the tournament] hasn’t entered our minds.
The 2006 champions looked very solid against England but struggled with their movement against Costa Rica, leading to the 1-0 defeat. Uruguay went through a similar pattern, and it's very likely the team with the freshest legs will come out on top in this fixture.
Prediction: Costa Rica, Italy advance
France's advantage in goal difference is enormous (+6), so Ecuador will need a miracle to make it to the knockout stages as group winners. Switzerland will play Honduras, who will need an even bigger miracle just to make it to the round of 16.
The Swiss team have to hope France will play Ecuador with the same vigor they displayed in their two previous fixtures. If Switzerland can better Ecuador's result by two goals, they'll have erased the goal difference and lead Ecuador thanks to the head-to-head.
France's lead in Group E is relatively safe, however, and if Les Bleus decide to give some of their key players a rest, the advantage lies with Ecuador.
Prediction: France, Switzerland advance
All Nigeria need is a single point against Argentina in order to advance, and a win against the tournament favourites would see the Super Eagles rise to the top of Group F.
Iran need to beat already eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina and make up a two-goal deficit between them and the Nigerians. However, the Lions are one of the few teams yet to score a goal during the 2014 World Cup. The task seems nearly impossible, but if they get some help from the Albiceleste, all they need is one win.
Argentina have the quality required to hand Nigeria a significant defeat, but the Bosnians won't just gift Iran the three points. It's the young nation's first ever appearance at a World Cup, and they'll want nothing more than to end their tournament on a high note.
Prediction: Argentina, Nigeria advance
The Group of Death has lived up its billing in 2014, with all four teams still not mathematically sure of progression to the knockout stages. All Germany and the USA need is one point from their head-to-head, so should Die Mannschaft and the Yanks draw their final match, the conspiracy theorists will have a field day.
Germany's advantage in goal difference is significant, and it's highly unlikely Joachim Low and his men will miss out on the round of 16.
The USA came agonisingly close to beating Portugal on Sunday, and should they lose to Germany, the winner of Ghana v Portugal would have to make up a two-goal differential. The Ghanaians can do that with a simple 1-0 victory, while Portugal would have to win by at least four goals.
The Yanks are in the best spot of all three teams, and if they just take care of business on their end, they'll make it to the knockout stages.
Prediction: Germany, USA advance
It wasn't pretty, but two close wins have already ensured the Belgians of their spot in the next round. All they need is one point from their final fixture against South Korea to finish Group H on top, and they'll already know which opponent they'll be facing next as Group F will wrap up earlier in the day.
Algeria will advance if they beat Russia, but even a draw will most likely do, as South Korea would have to beat Belgium by a significant margin to make up the goal difference.
The Russians have no choice—beat Algeria, and hope the Red Devils do what they have to do and defeat South Korea. It's a tall order for Fabio Capello and his men, but given the Koreans' struggles against quicker players out wide, Russia will have their fate very much in their own hands.
Prediction: Belgium, Algeria advance
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