FIFA World Cup

6 Players to Watch on Day 17 of the 2014 World Cup

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentJune 28, 2014

6 Players to Watch on Day 17 of the 2014 World Cup

1 of 7

    Buda Mendes/Getty Images

    After the group stages of the World Cup finished on Thursday, the last-16 ties kick off on Saturday.

    In the early game, hosts Brazil play Chile, who made it out of Group B at the expense of holders Spain.

    And in the late game, Colombia, inspired by the form of Monaco forward James Rodriguez, will play a Uruguay team that will be without Luis Suarez after he was handed a ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

    Here's a list of six players who can shape what happens on Day 17 of the World Cup.

    Feel free to use the comments section below to agree, disagree and add your own.

Claudio Bravo, Chile

2 of 7

    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    It's been a memorable couple of weeks for Claudio Bravo.

    First, he helped Chile get out of a group that included world champions Spain and Netherlands. Then he agreed to a move to Barcelona.

    Next on the list is a date with hosts Brazil in the last 16 of the World Cup. 

    Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa proved that Brazil can be frustrated with the help of a wonderful performance between the sticks, and that responsibility will fall on Bravo on Saturday.

    As shaky as Brazil have been at the back, some of their football going forward has been slick and exciting.

    It's unlikely Chile will be able to book a place in the quarter-finals without Bravo doing his bit to deny Neymar and the rest.

James Rodriguez, Colombia

3 of 7

    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    James Rodriguez has scored in each of Colombia's three group games. All ended in wins as they finished atop of Group C with nine points from nine.

    His pass for Colombia's second goal against Japan was a lesson in improvisation and invention. And his quick feet and finish to score the fourth in the 4-1 win were just as impressive.

    Team-mate Jackson Martinez believes Colombia are benefiting from a player who has matured since his move to Monaco.

    In quotes carried by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo (via FIFA.com), Martinez said Rodriguez was a better player after a year in France:

    It's impressive to see how James has improved. I knew him from FC Porto and I see that now in France he has matured so much.

    The talent he has is something that cannot be questioned. He is having a great tournament.

    The 22-year-old has already become one of the stars of the tournament. And in the form he's in, he'll fancy his chances of leading his team past Uruguay and into the quarter-finals.

    If they do that, Carl Worswick of The Guardian feels it will be huge for Rodriguez.

    "If Colombia make history and reach the World Cup’s last eight for the first time, some believe Rodriguez could even assume (Carlos) Valderrama’s mantle as the country’s greatest player of all time."

Diego Godin, Uruguay

4 of 7

    Petr David Josek/Associated Press

    Luis Suarez's bite on Giorgio Chiellini overshadowed what was a terrific win for Uruguay over Italy.

    It ensured their passage into the second round, qualifying from a group that also included former winners England and Italy.

    It was Diego Godin's goal that secured the vital win over the Italians. It's just unfortunate that it happened after Suarez had already stolen the headlines.

    Uruguay's task against Colombia has been made more difficult by Suarez's absence. But Colombia will be without their star, too, with Radamel Falcao missing the tournament through injury.

    It will be Godin's job to find a way to stop a Colombian forward line inspired by the form of James Rodriguez.

    Playing just off the front, the Monaco man will cause plenty of problems with his pace and movement if Godin and Uruguay can't find an effective way of dealing with him.

Edinson Cavani, Uruguay

5 of 7

    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

    After Luis Suarez was handed a FIFA ban for his bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, Uruguay's hopes will rest on Edinson Cavani.

    Uruguay will miss the Liverpool striker. He was absent for the defeat to Costa Rica but returned to inspire his team to wins over England and Italy to book a place in the last 16.

    Now, they have to do it without him again.

    But Cavani is still a £50 million striker. And Suarez's absence should make him a more central figure in Uruguay's plans for Colombia on Saturday.

    He didn't get the chance to play as a central striker very often at Paris Saint-Germain last season, with the forward line built around Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    He should get an opportunity on Saturday.

Fernandinho, Brazil

6 of 7

    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Fernandinho's World Cup started a bit later than most of the other players in Brazil.

    He got his first run-out against Cameroon in Brazil's final group game. But he made the most of his chance.

    On as a substitute, he helped the hosts shut down the game and ensure they topped Group A.

    And he even got himself on the scoresheet, putting the finishing touch on a well-worked move to score the fourth in the 4-1 win.

    His assured performance has started a clamour for the Manchester City midfielder to start the last-16 tie with Chile at the expense of Tottenham's Paulinho.

    Ater the game, Luiz Felipe Scolari hinted, in quotes reported by Paul Handler in the Manchester Evening News, that his team might now "evolve" to include Fernandinho.

    "I think Fernandinho coming in was critical and we created a number of good chances in attack," Scolari said. "Nature doesn't make leaps, things evolve step by step and this is what we are doing."

Neymar, Brazil

7 of 7

    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    It seems strange to think now that before the World Cup there was a debate raging about whether Neymar could handle the pressure of being Brazil's No. 10.

    Three games in, and he has done everything he can to silence the doubters. 

    Brazil have looked vulnerable at the back at times, but they have also produced some thrilling attacking football. And that, for the most part, is down to Neymar.

    And, according to The Associated Press' Tales Azzoni (via ABCNews.com), Neymar is not yet suffering from the weight of expectation:

    There is no pressure when you are living your dream. I'm doing what I've always wanted to do since I was a little kid. Today my dream is coming true, I'm playing the matches that I've always wanted to be playing.

    He will face tougher tests in the coming weeks than Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. But he has got off to a flying start.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices