Monday evening saw Brazil, Chile, the Netherlands and Mexico set up encounters against one another for the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, so now focus turns to Groups C and D.
Colombia and Costa Rica are already through to the knockout rounds. Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece are all battling to make it out of Group C, while Italy and Uruguay will enter a shootout in Group D.
It's only natural that we form our own predictions for who will make it to the round of 16, but Spain's shock exit at the first hurdle of the 2014 tournament is a reminder of how easily the odds can be upset.
With two last-16 ties already set in stone, let's take a look at what the remaining round of 16 hopefuls must do in order to make it through to the next phase of competition, along with a prediction of what the full draw will look like.
|Remaining 2014 World Cup Group Outcome Projections|
|Round of 16 Projected Fixtures|
|Team 1||VS.||Team 2|
|Costa Rica||vs.||Ivory Coast|
|*Fixture already determined|
|Group C Standings|
Colombia need just a point from their Tuesday evening fixture against Japan to seal Group C's top spot as their own, having stood as the dominant force in this particular pool with victories over Greece and the Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Alberto Zaccheroni's men—currently tied with Greece on one point apiece—need to win. They also need to hope that the Greeks can beat the Ivory Coast, but not by a larger margin than their required victory over the Colombians, lest they get leapfrogged on goal difference.
FourFourTwo's Michael Cox has praised Juan Cuadrado as the key man in Colombia's terrific group-stage run:
Group C's African representatives stand in precarious waters. The Ivory Coast is two points ahead of Greece and Japan at present but with a tricky fixture against the former left to play. Should they win, their round of 16 berth is guaranteed, but a draw would make their final group minutes all the harder to bear.
If the Ivory Coast draw and Japan win, it would come down to a matter of goal difference, which currently runs in favour of the former by a margin of one. Therefore, the Japanese need to seek goals in their closing first-round encounter.
|Group D Standings|
It would have taken a premonition of seer-like quality to foretell that Costa Rica would be the side topping a contentious Group D this summer, but the CONCACAF upstarts can do just that by claiming a single point from eliminated England on Tuesday.
Commentator Sam Matterface provides a preview for that encounter, supporting the notion that Costa Rica will finish on top of the group with a maximum nine points:
However, a draw will do as the Central Americans look to seal first place in the pool, and even a loss could be acceptable as Italy would still need to overcome the Costa Ricans' superior goal difference with a thumping of Uruguay in order to come out on top.
Tied with La Celeste at three points, it's winner takes all as far as third-placed Uruguay are concerned, with Italy needing only to draw in order to clinch the second spot as their own.
|Group E Standings|
France have run rampant against a pool of teams that has so far proven to be vastly inferior, and a draw against Ecuador on Wednesday is all that's needed to claim first place.
The South American outfit are currently second. They are tied with Switzerland at three points but are two goals better off on goal difference. With Ottmar Hitzfeld's side facing pushovers Honduras, a win against the French will likely be needed.
Although mathematics dictates that Les Bleus aren't yet officially through to the round of 16, their goal difference of plus-six—at least eight goals superior to anyone else in Group E—means that first place will assuredly belong to them.
If an Ecuadorian upset against the French is to be completed, one man the underdogs will need in form is forward Enner Valencia, scorer of each of their three goals in this tournament. Squawka shows just how accurate Valencia has been thus far:
Honduras are out after claiming no points as of yet. Should both Ecuador and the Swiss draw, the former would go through based on a superior goal difference, but a tense duo of final fixtures await.
|Group F Standings|
Lionel Messi's last-gasp goal in Saturday's 1-0 win over Iran guarantees Alejandro Sabella's men a place in the round of 16, and a draw against Group F's second-placed Nigeria is all that's required to secure priority qualification.
That result would also assure the Super Eagles of qualification as runners-up. Defeat, however, would give Iran the slightest of opportunities in beating them to the second spot.
For that to happen, Nigeria must lose. Carlos Queiroz's outfit would then need to overcome last-place Bosnia-Herzegovina by a sufficient enough margin so that they would then outscore Stephen Keshi's side on goal difference.
Squawka sheds some light on a factor of Nigeria's play that they will undoubtedly find boosts morale within their camp with an Argentinian matchup looming:
It's a tough proposition for Nigeria—do they shore up defence, go for second place and settle for more difficult opposition (presumably France) in the next round? Or should Keshi line up with the intent of upsetting Lionel Messi and Company, but risk missing out on the round of 16 altogether as a result?
|Group G Standings|
Arguably the most enticing group of the lot heading into our final batch of group-stage fixtures, Germany, the United States, Ghana and Portugal each have a chance to qualify for the round of 16 on Thursday.
This is also the only pool which fails to feature a team that has won two or more games so far in the competition. Germany and the United States are tied in first and second respectively with four points apiece, claiming a win and a draw each.
The pair can qualify in precisely that order should they draw on Thursday, but a win for either team would guarantee first place in the pool.
ESPN's Marc Stein isn't getting ahead of himself in terms of aspirations for the USA, though, insisting he'd settle for the runner-up berth:
Both Portugal and Ghana need there to be a winner in the German/American collision. If this happens, the victor of the Portugal/Ghana encounter can then tie the loser of that fixture in points and take second place as their own.
The third-placed Black Stars look most capable of doing so, just two behind the USA on goal difference. For Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo would need to be in stellar form if they were to overturn a goal difference of minus-four.
That being said, if they can beat the Ghanaians by a large margin and if Germany defeat the USA, round of 16 football may yet be attainable.
|Group H Standings|
Group H is identical to Group C in terms of points distribution, and leaders Belgium—currently three points clear of second-place Algeria—require just a point from their matchup with South Korea in order to take first place.
Marc Wilmots' men are already in the round of 16, but as BT Sport's Ian Darke suggests, it hasn't been as comfortable as some assumed it might have been coming into this World Cup:
Algeria face Russia in their last group fixture, where a win would also guarantee their place in the next round, and first place could even be theirs if South Korea manage to defeat the Red Devils.
Should the Asian party pull off that feat while the Algerians fall to Russia, it would then come down to goal difference between the two victors, Russia currently leading that aspect by one.
Finally, a draw for Algeria would also mean that Russia miss out. Then attention would rest with South Korea, who could hop above the North Africans with a win over Belgium, should they be able to give their goal difference a sufficient boost.
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