The final 16 teams of the 2014 World Cup have been determined.
If you thought the group round was fun, just wait until we get rolling with the knockout stage of this tournament. There are no second chances in this stage. If you lose, you're out. It's rather unforgiving.
This is where winners are made, especially in this sport. Winners (teams and individuals alike) step up during the most crucial stages of play. Some of the sport's top stars—Neymar, Lionel Messi and others—will be featured prominently. It will be up to them to propel their teams to the quarterfinals and beyond.
Now that the group stage is over, let's review the final group tables and scores from Day 15.
Day 15 Results
Germany 1, USA 0
While both sides had a rather favorable chance of advancing into the knockout stage, Germany and the United States came out strong in this match. The intensity and determination of each side was clear from the opening minute of play.
The first half ended in a stalemate. It appeared as if the Germans had control, but the Americans went through spurts of impressive offense in the half. That said, nothing materialized for either team.
Thomas Muller got his team on the board early in the second half, however, in a play that was described perfectly by Paul Wilson of The Guardian:
Per Mertesacker produced a header from [Mesut] Özil’s cross that [Tim] Howard did extremely well to reach, let alone beat out, only for his clearance to find an unmarked Müller on the edge of the area and he thumped a shot unstoppably past the goalkeeper for his fourth goal of the tournament.
The goal was impressive, and Muller admitted that the strike wasn't from his usual range:
ESPN FC also pointed out that the score was an important one in the young star's international career:
Thomas Mueller now has 9 goals in 9 career World Cup matches. At 24, he's the 4th youngest player to 9 WC goals. pic.twitter.com/T4QYuaU9zs— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 26, 2014
With the result, Germany took the top seed in Group G. The Americans also advanced as the second seed.
Portugal 2, Ghana 1
In a result that ended up being rather meaningless, Portugal defeated Ghana. The chances were slim for either side to advance to the round of 16, but when this result was paired with the above result, both Portugal and Ghana were eliminated.
Portugal got the advantage in the 31st minute when John Boye netted an own-goal. Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso struck a ball that went off the foot of Boye, and the ball soared over goalkeeper Fatau Dauda's head for a goal.
Seeking the equalizer, Ghana found it in the 57th minute. Asamoah Gyan made history with this header:
Dauda would be in the middle of another Portugal score in the 80th minute. After batting down a chance toward Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star struck one with the left foot that went to the far post and into the back of the net.
Portugal won as a result.
Algeria 1, Russia 1
Both sides needed a win to guarantee advancement into the next round. The draw worked in favor of the Algerians and eliminated the Russians.
Russia were off to a fantastic start early on, however, as a bullet header in the sixth minute by Aleksandr Kokorin gave them an early 1-0 lead.
Following the goal, the Russians played strong defense until the 60th minute. Algeria equalized when the keeper failed to defend a free kick, leaving Islam Slimani open to head home the opportunity from close range.
The result would hold through extra time, giving Algeria it's first berth in the round of 16 in history:
Algeria are a team that the opposition might not want to deal with in the knockout stage. They're on a good streak and will be tough to contend with.
Belgium 1, Korea Republic 0
It's not easy to win with 10 men when locked in a stalemate at the half, but that's exactly what Belgium did on Thursday. Steven Defour received a red card in the 45th minute, leaving Belgium without an extra man for the remainder of the game:
Korea Republic could not capitalize, however, as the Belgian defense was stellar throughout. That said, so was South Korea's. Belgium didn't net their lone goal until the 78th minute. That's when Jan Vertonghen struck:
GOOOOAAAALLL BELGIUM! Vertonghen, a central defender, follows up Origi's shot with a goal off the rebound. 1-0, #BEL, 78'— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 26, 2014
In the round of 16, Belgium are slated to play the United States. This will be a tough match for both sides, having both played gritty contests on Day 15.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: