Brazil were the favourites to win the World Cup before a ball had been kicked at the 2014 summer showpiece, but how does the ground settle as we head into the knockout stages?
With the field now whittled down to the last 16, some giants are living up to their pre-competition tags as favourites, while other minnows—Costa Rica and Greece among them—have unexpectedly waded into the discussion.
The round of 16 gets underway on Saturday, and below we provide the latest fixture schedule, odds and predictions for each fixture, previewing the three biggest games.
All odds come courtesy of Oddsshark.com.
|Date||Time||Team 1 (Win Odds)||Draw Odds||Team 2 (Win Odds)||Prediction|
|June 28||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Brazil (25-36)||391-100||Chile (9-2)||Brazil win (pens)|
|June 28||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Colombia (6-5)||5-2||Uruguay (23-10)||Colombia win|
|June 29||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Netherlands (11-10)||267-100||Mexico (51-20)||Netherlands win AET|
|June 29||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Costa Rica (3-2)||11-5||Greece (19-10)||Costa Rica win|
|June 30||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||France (1-2)||5-1||Nigeria (6-1)||France win|
|June 30||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Germany (100-333)||17-5||Algeria (10-1)||Germany win|
|July 1||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Argentina (100-227)||261-100||Switzerland (6-1)||Argentina win|
|July 1||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Belgium (50-59)||333-100||U.S.A. (17-5)||Belgium win AET|
Key Round Of 16 Fixtures
Brazil vs. Chile
Saturday will be a momentous day for South American football as all four teams competing look to do their continent proud, and while Colombia take on Uruguay in the later matchup, Brazil and Chile promise to get things off to a fiery start.
Both teams have been attractive to watch throughout the course of their group endeavours, but Neymar has stood out en route to becoming the joint-top scorer in the tournament.
Chile have arguably looked more organised than their hosts, and have already beaten reigning champions Spain. In Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal they have two of the most sought-after players in European football.
Simon Caney of Sport believes the game is too close to call:
Despite the tight proximity of the clash, Chile are still standout underdogs to win on Saturday, currently priced at 9-2 by Oddsshark, while hosts Brazil will be expected to use that home advantage in progressing to the quarter-finals, sitting as 25-36 favourites.
Alternatively, a draw could be seen as good value at 391-100, with the two teams very likely to be tense in this make-or-break fixture, which makes extra-time a firm possibility.
Prediction: Brazil 2-2 Chile AET (Brazil win on penalties)
Netherlands vs. Mexico
There arguably isn't a round-of-16 tie that poses two sides with more differing styles of play than that of the Netherlands versus Mexico.
The Oranje have been expressive, open and willing to take risks whenever they find possession, which, as OptaJohan points out, hasn't been all too often:
40% - The Netherlands have the third lowest possession rate at the World Cup so far, behind Iran and Honduras. Switch.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 25, 2014
Mexico, on the other hand, are a far more reserved party, more interested with limiting enemy opportunities before springing forward with lightning-quick breaks. It shows in the odds, too, with Miguel Herrera's men priced by Oddsshark at 51-20.
However, El Tri drew 0-0 with Brazil in the group stage and beat Croatia 3-1, so they have already passed a couple of stiff tests. The Dutch can still be found at 11-10 in what will be a must-watch matchup for those who revel in the art of managerial tactics.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico AET
Argentina vs. Switzerland
Lionel Messi has been the fire behind Argentina's 100 percent World Cup campaign so far, scoring and earning the man-of-the-match award in all three of their group fixtures.
Switzerland are the next target in his sights, pitched as lowly 6-1 underdogs to beat La Albiceleste on Tuesday, while Alejandro Sabella's men sit pretty at 100-227.
It's difficult to see past an Argentinian win here, and a 3-0 win over Honduras in the Swiss' final group game shouldn't paper over the cracks of what is a defensively poor side.
Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Switzerland