World Cup 2014 Predictions: Projections for Day 16 Fixtures in Brazil

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2014

Brazil's Fernandinho celebrates with teammates scoring his side's 5th goal during the group A World Cup soccer match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

The 2014 World Cup group stages saw drama, controversy and a ton of goals. Following just a single day of rest, fans all over the globe can strap themselves in for the main event—the knockout stages.

It's the best thing in sports, with the 16 remaining nations going into every match knowing it can be their last. You either win, or you go home. Four victories is all you need to lift the World Cup trophy at the legendary Maracana stadium, but those four wins will be hard to come by.

Saturday's fixtures will be an all-South American affair, as hosts Brazil will play rivals Chile in the afternoon before Uruguay and Colombia face off in the evening. Let's have a look at some predictions for each of the two fixtures that will kick off the round of 16.

 

History Won't Mean A Thing When Chile And Brazil Meet

Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Hollywood couldn't have scripted it any better. Hosts Brazil have the pressure of an entire nation desperate for a World Cup win on their shoulders—Chile have been knocked out of the World Cup every time they've met Brazil in the past.

Yes, the Chileans will be extra motivated when they take on Brazil. Yes, the Brazilians know losing simply isn't an option. And no, it won't mean anything once the official blows the opening whistle.

TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - JUNE 25: Neymar poses for a selfie with a fan prior to a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, on June 25, 2014 in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro, Bra
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Both of these teams are just too good to let historical tendencies influence what they do on the pitch. This isn't the same old Chilean team suffering from little-brother syndrome—with stars such as Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Mauricio Isla, they have the talent to compete with any team in the world.

And they know it. That's the vital part. Chile have been wildly impressive during the World Cup so far, choosing to rest key players against the Netherlands in their final group stage fixture.

The Brazilians know it, too. As shared by Selecao Brasileira, star striker Neymar told reporters he had full confidence in his team, but he also admitted Chile have a very good team:

Neither team can afford to focus on the history of these two teams, and more importantly—neither can allow that history to play any part in this fixture. Chile have to get over their Brazil complex—Brazil need to realise and accept the pressure to perform will be there in every match, no matter the opponents.

 

Losing Luis Suarez Can Be Uruguay's Downfall But Also Their Biggest Weapon

Jun 24, 2014; Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, BRAZIL; Uruguay forward Luis Suarez (9) sits on the ground checking his mouth after he allegedly bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini (3) during the second half of Uruguay's 1-0 win over Italy in a 2014 World Cup
USA TODAY Sports

It seems impossible to even think losing one of the top strikers in the world to a lengthy suspension could somehow help a team, but in some cases, it can.

Via SportsCenter, Suarez has played his final minutes of the 2014 World Cup:

Some teams crumble when faced with adversity, but others rally and thrive. In 2006, the Italians were hit with one of the biggest match-fixing scandals the sport had seen in years, Calciopoli. No one gave two cents about the Azzurri's chances during the World Cup except for the players themselves.

The Italians used Calciopoli as fuel to grow as a team, and they put together one of their most dominant World Cup performances in history, conceding just twice on their way to a fourth title.

Uruguay's response to Suarez's ban has been one of total dismay, to the point the team is even considering not playing, per Vicky Davila (h/t to Rafael Hernandez):

There are two directions La Celeste can go from here: Fold, get hammered by an in-form Colombia team and go home blaming the world for your early exit, or use the anger over what you feel is an unfair punishment and put it to good use.

Football is about more than 22 guys kicking a ball. It's about passion, emotion and the will to win. Uruguay have a chance to turn this incident into something positive—whether they do or not will decide how their match against Colombia plays out.