After a day of rest, the 2014 World Cup gets serious on Saturday as the round of 16 gets underway with only South American nations in action.
The Estadio Mineirao will play host to Brazil's collision against Group B runners-up Chile before Group D stars Colombia take on Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
It's only the very beginning of the competition's second round and already the extreme quality of those qualified teams is evident in Saturday's matchups. We provide full fixture information and match previews below.
|Date||Fixture||Time||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Sat, June 28||Brazil vs. Chile||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||BBC One (UK), ABC (US)||BBC Sport website (UK), WatchESPN (US, subscription required)|
|Sat, June 28||Colombia vs. Uruguay||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||BBC One (UK), ABC (US)||BBC Sport website (UK), WatchESPN (US, subscription required)|
Brazil vs. Chile
Chile did superbly to emerge out of a group containing both Spain and the Netherlands, but the slew of tough scheduling doesn't end there, with Brazil up next on their timetable.
Jorge Sampaoli will have been extremely encouraged by his side's work in the first round of competition, but a 2-0 loss to the Oranje showed that La Roja can certainly be made to look vulnerable, and Brazil will feel they have the weapons necessary to do the same.
The Associated Press gives us a look into the Selecao's preparations ahead of Saturday's fixture:
With Hulk back in their line-up for the 4-1 win over Cameroon, Brazil looked to have a lot more bite in their last outing, having appeared stifled and withdrawn for periods of their 0-0 stalemate with Mexico in the game prior.
These two teams have netted 12 goals at the World Cup between them already, and Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated points out what a shame it is that South American giants of such vast quality have to collide so early in the tournament:
FIFA's clever plan to hurt South America: Make 4 South American teams fight for 1 semifinal spot (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay).— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 24, 2014
As was the case against the Dutch, Chile's full-backs will be the men to watch in Belo Horizonte. Neymar and Hulk are arguably the best on-paper wing partnership in the entire competition, so Sampaoli's preference for playing three at the back with wing-backs could be a risk too far.
Prediction: Brazil 2-2 Chile AET (Brazil win on penalties)
Colombia vs. Uruguay
Before the World Cup got underway, Colombia were being looked upon as one of the competition's dark horses, a side to keep one's eye on.
However, that dark horse is now one of the steeds leading the chase from the front after looking so convincing in the group stage, cantering to a perfect three victories against Greece, the Ivory Coast and Japan.
Infostrada Sports tells us that James Rodriguez has been their key man throughout, with the Monaco star holding one particular record on a par with Argentina's Lionel Messi:
For Uruguay, there's only one figure in the frame, and following the third biting controversy of his career in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Italy, Luis Suarez will not be available for the Colombia clash.
But even if they could count Suarez among their ranks, however, this is still a mountainous task for La Celeste.
Granted, Uruguay could very well be the most difficult task Jose Pekerman's side have faced in the competition thus far, but Colombia held the best defensive record in CONMEBOL qualifying for this tournament, a factor often forgotten in the midst of their hypnotising attack.
Jackson Martinez could retain his place as Pekerman's leading man up front after netting twice in the 4-1 demolition of Japan, but Teofilo Gutierrez may yet reclaim his berth in the side. Either option has the potential to do damage on Saturday.
Prediction: Colombia 3-1 Uruguay