After getting back underway on Saturday, the World Cup round of 16 throws up another two terrific collisions on Sunday, with the Netherlands taking on Mexico in Fortaleza before Costa Rica and Greece meet in Recife.
All four teams in action yesterday came from the South American continent, but the European and Central American influence of Sunday's proceedings makes for a much more cosmopolitan prospect.
We're just over a fortnight into the World Cup, and already the fixtures seem to be flying by, so make sure to read on for all viewing information, preview and predictions for Sunday's action.
|Date||Time||Fixture||Live Stream||TV Info|
|June 29||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Netherlands vs. Mexico||ITV Player (UK, ESPN Watch (US, subscription required)||ITV (UK), ESPN (US)|
|June 29||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Costa Rica vs. Greece||ITV Player (UK, ESPN Watch (US, subscription required)||ITV (UK), ESPN (US)|
Netherlands vs. Mexico
Having beaten the likes of Chile and Spain in the group phase, one would certainly be justified in looking upon the Netherlands as a new contender to go all the way in Brazil.
However, Mexico offer up a challenge the likes of which Louis van Gaal hasn't faced yet in this tournament, a far more defensively astute task than others might offer.
Robin van Persie has told the Times of India (h/t Goal.com's Peter McVitie) where his Oranje side must improve if they expect to beat El Tri:
It's now a knockout. They played really well and remained unbeaten in their group. Even the hosts could not score against them. That speaks volumes about their abilities. Moreover, they will be playing in familiar conditions. We have to be more alert and best-prepared to face all sorts of situations.
There is absolutely no scope for errors. We have to minimise our errors and try our best to capitalise on the errors of our opponents. We are not thinking far at this point of time. Just want to concentrate on the match at hand and give our best.
The Holland striker is right to look upon the Brazil game as a template for how matters might go in Fortaleza this Sunday, the Dutch likely to become frustrated at times with Mexico's soaking up of pressure.
And logic dictates that will be the story of this fixture. Mexico may well last the 90 minutes with a drawn scoreline, but eventually the Netherlands' mass of attacking value should grab them the win.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico AET
Costa Rica vs. Greece
Costa Rica's accomplishment in topping a pool that contained Italy, Uruguay and England is nothing short of incredible and shows that a firm team ethic spliced with research can get any team far.
And as reward for their feat, Jorge Luis Pinto's men have been given very arguably the easiest opponent in the round of 16, with Greece having barely and very controversially managed to pip Ivory Coast in group qualification.
Broadcaster Paul Sarahs concurs that the opposition gives La Sele an extremely good chance at making it to the quarter-finals:
@MikeMcKenna_ They've been great and their fans are immense! Costa Rica my highlight so far. Real chance at a QF, incredible achievement.— Paul Sarahs (@PaulSarahs) June 27, 2014
Before the tournament began, this fixture would have seemed not only impossible but also a very unappetising fixture. Now, it's a far more intriguing matchup.
Costa Rica's progress in the competition has been no fluke, and at times, their chemistry has allowed them to play attractive, passing football that the Greeks just haven't mustered.
If Costa Rica can maintain the same air of fear in their game and not allow complacency to settle in, this tie should be a relative walkover, with Greece only scoring two goals in their group fixtures, both of which came against the Ivorians.
Prediction: Costa Rica 2-0 Greece