World Cup Schedule 2014: Full Picks and Bracket Projections for Updated Fixtures

Stuart Newman@@StuNewmanSportFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

PORTO SEGURO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12:  A replica of the FIFA world cup trophy is displayed during the Group A match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, 2014 in Porto Seguro, Brazil.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

The drama of the World Cup 2014’s group stage barely gave us a moment to pause for breath over the last two weeks, and while the groups are now all settled, the heart-stopping excitement is set to continue in the round of 16.

Brazil has served up a tournament like no other so far, with shock results, controversy both on and off the pitch and, of course, fantastic football.

Crunch time of the World Cup is now upon us, and with eight huge fixtures on the way from Saturday to Tuesday, we take a look at which teams have what it takes to continue their World Cup dream and take an in-depth look at two nations that could go the distance.

World Cup 2014 Round of 16
DateDrawPredictionTV Info
June 28Brazil vs. ChileBrazil 1-2 ChileBBC One/ABC
June 28Colombia vs. UruguayColombia 3-1 UruguayITV1/ABC
June 29Netherlands vs. MexicoNetherlands 1-0 MexicoITV1/ESPN
June 29Costa Rica vs. GreeceCosta Rica 2-1 GreeceITV1/ESPN
June 30France vs. NigeriaFrance 3-2 NigeriaBBC One/ESPN
June 30Germany vs. AlgeriaGermany 2-0 AlgeriaITV1/Univision
July 1Argentina vs. SwitzerlandArgentina 2-1 SwitzerlandBBC One/Univision
July 1Belgium vs. USABelgium 1-2 USABBC One/Univision


Colombia Not to be Underestimated

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Jackson Martinez of Colombia (center) celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Colombia at Arena Pantanal on June 24, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Chri
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Many people have been surprised by the brilliance of Colombia so far in Brazil, but they really shouldn’t be, as manager Jose Pekerman has put together a quite formidable squad.

Three wins from three in Group C, including convincing victories against Greece and Japan, has put Colombia within a game of their best-ever performance at a World Cup, and the praise has been coming in thick and fast—including from Gary Lineker:

Standing in their way of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history are Uruguay, who will be without their star man, Luis Suarez, in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

Suarez’s tournament came to an end after FIFA issued him a four-month ban from football following an alleged bite on Giorgio Chiellini, per BBC Sport, and it’s clear that the Uruguayans will miss their hitman.

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Giorgio Chiellini of Italy react after a clash during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias H
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

In their opening 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, Uruguay looked incredibly flat without the Liverpool striker up front, and they simply ran out of ideas. When he returned against England, though, it was clear just how much he contributes to Uruguay’s cause.

With two goals and a performance that caused shockwaves in the tournament, it looked like Suarez was going to reverse his bad boy image in Brazil, but his madness put him right back to square one.

Colombia will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of facing a Suarez-less Uruguay, though they would have the class in their outfit to get past the Uruguayans even if there were 11 of him on the pitch.

James Rodriguez has arguably been the sensation of the tournament so far, finding the net in each of Colombia’s group matches, and being a hot favourite among fans—per The Sun–Football:

He’s also been pretty popular with his teammates, understandably, and striker Jackson Martinez told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that he’s very impressed with the Monaco man—per

“It's impressive to see how James has improved. I knew him from FC Porto and I see that now in France he has matured so much. The talent he has is something that cannot be questioned. He is having a great tournament.”

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  James Rodriguez of Colombia celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Colombia at Arena Pantanal on June 24, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Christopher Le
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

With Rodriguez in form and the players around him equally impressive, Colombia are looking good to reach the quarter-finals and continue their outstanding form as we approach the tournament’s climax in Brazil.

Prediction: Colombia 3-1 Uruguay


USA to be World Cup Surprise Package

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22:  Fans in Grant Park celebrate a goal by the U.S. against Portugal in a Group G World Cup soccer match on June 22, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Fans were turned away from the free event after a 10,000-person capacity was reached.  (Pho
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Though the daunting task of facing Belgium awaits the USA in the round of 16, the Americans’ group stage proved that they’re more than ready for the challenge.

Deemed the “group of death” by many, the USA navigated through Group G in style and deservedly booked their place in the knockout stage as runners-up to Germany.

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 22: Clint Dempsey of the United States celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammate Michael Bradley as Joao Pereira of Portugal looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between the United States and Por
Elsa/Getty Images

A win, a draw and a loss doesn’t look fantastic on paper, but it’s the way that Jurgen Klinsmann’s side went about their business against world-class opposition that will have given USA fans cause for optimism.

An attacking style with a solid defensive line gives any team a chance of success, and USA have just that, with Clint Dempsey being their stand-out performer of the group stage.

Dempsey has rolled back the years in Brazil, scoring two of the USA’s four goals with strong performances to boot. The 31-year-old now has Belgium firmly in his sights, a team that are yet to get going in Brazil.

So much was promised of Belgium before the tournament got underway, and though they managed three group-stage victories out of three, they would have come unstuck against better opposition.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 17:  Belgium players celebrate victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Belgium and Algeria at Estadio Mineirao on June 17, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The USA are that better opposition, and while they don’t harbour the star-studded outfit that the Belgians do, they’re one of the most determined units at the World Cup.

Legend of the U.S. game, DaMarcus Beasley echoed such a sentiment while talking with, saying that his side are more prepared than ever to mount a charge for the trophy:

Now that we’re in to the knockout rounds it’s one and done. We want to take it to the next level now. You’re getting a lot of weird results in this Cup. Anything can happen. We have depth now that we didn’t have before. We like to keep the ball. We have players in Europe and playing in big clubs.

Beasley will be in charge of keeping Belgium’s impressive front line quiet, but they haven’t exactly been at their loudest so far.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Toni Kroos of Germany challenges DaMarcus Beasley of the United States during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Marc Wilmots’ men have scored just four tournament goals in Brazil, scraping to narrow victories against their Group H counterparts in the process.

Though they’re a team to be feared, Klinsmann will set his side up to ignore the hype and just play the kind of football that’s already gotten them this far.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany  at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griff
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If the USA manage to break down the Belgians with their fluid playing style and find some goals, Wilmots’ side could be in trouble in Salvador.

It looks like it's coming down to a battle of the defences in the final round of 16 match of the tournament, and while the USA may not be better off in terms of personnel, they’re a much better unit.

All they need to do is find their way to goal and keep their roller-coaster World Cup going.

Prediction: Belgium 1-2 USA


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