If you've already had enough excitement from the 2014 World Cup, then the knockout stage isn't for you.
The round of 16 isn't for the weak of heart. Things can change in an instant during this round, as one goal is the difference between advancing to the next round or going home empty-handed. The knockout round is unforgiving.
This is what the World Cup is all about.
That said, the benefits of watching the knockout stage are countless. For one, we'll see even more emotional play in this round than we did in the fantastic group stage. The sport's brightest stars also step up in the biggest spots, meaning we could see some stellar performances from the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and others.
You don't want to miss a single minute of the action in this round, even if you think you've already reached your limit based on the incredible play in the first round of this tournament.
Round of 16 Schedule
|2014 World Cup Schedule - Round of 16|
|June 28||Noon||Brazil vs. Chile||ABC||Chile 2, Brazil 1|
|June 28||4 p.m.||Colombia vs. Uruguay||ABC||Colombia 2, Uruguay 0|
|June 29||Noon||Netherlands vs. Mexico||ESPN||Netherlands 3, Mexico 2|
|June 29||4 p.m.||Costa Rica vs. Greece||ESPN||Costa Rica 3, Greece 1|
|June 30||Noon||France vs. Nigeria||ESPN||France 1, Nigeria 0|
|June 30||4 p.m.||Germany vs. Algeria||ESPN||Germany 3, Algeria 0|
|July 1||Noon||Argentina vs. Switzerland||ESPN||Argentina 3, Switzerland 1|
|July 1||4 p.m.||Belgium vs. USA||ESPN||Belgium 2, USA 0|
|FIFA.com; Kenny DeJohn|
Netherlands vs. Mexico
The Netherlands finished first in Group B, winning each of their three matches in the group stage. Their dominance of the group has set them up to be a formidable opponent in the knockout stages.
Mexico, on the other hand, did not lose a single game in Group A. They defeated Cameroon and Croatia, while also playing to a draw against Brazil.
This is going to be a high-scoring affair, as both sides are potent offensively. Holland can certainly post a healthy number of goals, as Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie form an incredible trio on the attack. Van Persie has scored three goals in two matches and Robben has three goals in three matches. I expect at least one of them to find the back of the net in this one.
Mexico's match against Brazil was one of the most competitive in this tournament thus far, and that should bode well for them against this European powerhouse. Guillermo Ochoa was the star of that game, denying Brazil countless opportunities. He'll play a big part in this one as well.
One thing to note is that Jose Vazquez will miss the match after earning his second yellow card against Croatia, so the Mexicans will need to work hard to replace the 35-year-old.
This match will be competitive, but it's hard to deny the striking ability of the Dutch.
Prediction: Netherlands 3, Mexico 2
Brazil vs. Chile
The first match of the knockout stage will feature Brazil and Chile, two South American teams looking to advance to the quarterfinals. Brazil won Group A. Chile finished strong and took second place in Group B. This match won't be a one-sided affair.
Neymar has been in top form for Brazil, scoring four goals in three matches. That said, Brazil came out flat against Croatia and couldn't score against Ochoa and the Mexican team. While a 4-1 win over Cameroon was impressive, there are still questions facing this Brazilian side.
Chile have been on an impressive run. Taking down Australia was relatively easy, but defeating a Spain team expected to bounce back from its 5-1 drubbing against the Dutch was a statement. Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz netted goals in the 2-0 win.
It's extraordinarily difficult to pick against the team with home-country advantage, but I wouldn't be surprised if Chile stunned the entire World Cup and moved on to the quarterfinals. I'll be bold here.
Prediction: Chile 2, Brazil 1
Argentina vs. Switzerland
There's really only one man to watch in this match. If Lionel Messi can exact his will on the Swiss defense, then Argentina will move on the quarterfinals.
No other player in this tournament is as dynamic and opportunistic as Messi. Kyle McCarthy of Fox Sports agrees:
Messi can shoulder the load based upon his first three performances in Brazil. He scored twice in this match [against Nigeria] and served the corner that ultimately prompted the third. He sliced and strutted through the attacking third with intent. He showed all of hallmarks of an in-form player capable of slicing apart a competent opponent.
Messi has been stellar during this World Cup. Defenses haven't had an answer for his incredible ability to find space and take advantage of it.
Switzerland's star, Xherdan Shaqiri, has been in good form as well. He already has three goals, and the Argentinian defense will need to keep tabs on the Bayern Munich player.
I'll take Messi over anybody in the sport right now, though.
Prediction: Argentina 3, Switzerland 1
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR
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