B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Arjen Robben Ready to Rock

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Arjen Robben Ready to Rock

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    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction, combined with a Man of the Match selection (based on FIFA's official decision).

    The predictions are in the following slides, and you will be able to chart their success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all scorelines and the Man of the Match awards correct will receive a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Netherlands vs. Mexico

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    Alex Dimond: Netherlands 2-0 Mexico

    Mexico are a pretty limited side all told, and they never get beyond the last 16. Netherlands have the quality in attack to overcome their best defence.

    Man of the Match: Robin van Persie

    Robin van Persie could bag a couple in this one if the service is right.

     

    Karl Matchett: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

    This could be one of the most intriguing tactical battles of the entire World Cup. Two similar systems; the best attack against the best defence; pace and counter-attack against solid shape; impressive retention of the ball and a compact, hard-working unit. A lot of these round-of-16 games could go either way, but the idea here is for Netherlands’ impressive attack to tip the balance.

    Man of the Match: Arjen Robben

    Arjen Robben has the capacity to open the Mexico defence in one-on-one situations, where their passing and counter-attacks might otherwise struggle.

     

    Michael Cummings: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

    We've been here with the Netherlands before—impressive in the group stage, taking the full nine points. So how far can they go? This match, against a Mexico side that's disciplined and tough to break down, could give us a good read on the Oranje. It probably won't be easy, but the Dutch should have enough attacking quality to go through.

    Man of the Match: Robin van Persie

    The Netherlands can hurt opposing teams several ways, but the most lethal option—with apologies to Arjen Robben—might be Robin van Persie. He looked to be in good form during the group stage, and now the Dutch need him to shine in the knockout phase.

     

    Sam Tighe: Netherlands 1-0 Mexico

    The Mexicans have been fantastic, surprising many by combining steely defensive play with bright attacking football. Miguel Herrera has done a wonderful job, but the fairy tale run ends here against the wily old Louis van Gaal.

    Man of the Match: Arjen Robben

    I expect the Dutch to soak up pressure once again and play to their strengths on the counter-attack. Arjen Robben to have another superb game.

     

    Will Tidey: Netherlands 2-1 Mexico

    Mexico have improved no end from their qualifying campaign, but they don't do enough to get past a strong Netherlands side. Not even Guillermo Ochoa can stop them.

    Man of the Match: Robin van Persie

    Robin van Persie to fire for the Dutch, with a memorable goal somewhere in this one.

Costa Rica vs. Greece

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    Alex Dimond: Costa Rica 0-1 Greece

    The Central Americans enjoyed the more impressive group-stage performance, but I can see them being frustrated by the Greek defence in this one. They may well need extra time to do it, but the Europeans could just sneak the win.

    Man of the Match: Kostas Manolas

    Manolas has improved his reputation with his performances in Brazil, and he could catch the eye as his side repel all Costa Rican attacks.

     

    Karl Matchett: Costa Rica 1-2 Greece

    Costa Rica could be a little braver from the start in this round after finishing as Group D champions. They are unlikely to fear Greece. But the Greeks are savvy tournament operators; they know how to absorb pressure and score a goal when they need to, and reaching the quarter-finals is within their grasp.

    Man of the Match: Georgios Samaras

    Georgios Samaras to offer his own blend of creativity and penalty-area threat again and prove decisive.

     

    Michael Cummings: Costa Rica 2-1 Greece

    Costa Rica have been one of the surprise sides of the tournament, beating Italy and Uruguay on the way to winning a tough group. But was it as tough as we first thought? And can Greece grind their way to yet another ugly—but positive—result? This one could go either way, but I'm backing the CONCACAF side to continue their Cinderella run.

    Man of the Match: Keylor Navas

    Navas played well in goal for Costa Rica throughout the group stage, conceding just once—a penalty, even—in three matches. Greece won't exactly be the most dangerous side Costa Rica have faced, but they do have a knack for coming up with a few really big chances every match. Navas' ability to deal with those chances might make the difference.

     

    Sam Tighe: Costa Rica 1-1 Greece (Greece to win on penalties)

    The winner of this tie could well be decided by who opts to take control of possession, as the one who is allowed to sit off and counter-attack is far more likely to win. Ultimately, I can't see either side separating themselves. A penalty shootout ensues.

    Man of the Match: Georgios Samaras

    Why not Georgios Samaras, again, to come to the rescue late on and score an equaliser to force extra time? Bet he scores his shootout kick too.

     

    Will Tidey: Costa Rica 1-2 Greece

    Costa Rica were great in their first two games—beating Uruguay and Italy—but their dream run ends against the Greeks. I'm not sure how they'll get it done; Greece will just find a way.

    Man of the Match: Georgios Samaras

    Samaras to inspire with a goal or two, leading the Greek line and causing all kinds of problems for a reasonably small Costa Rica back line.

Updated Standings

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    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline, two points for correct Man of the Match.)

    Sam Tighe76
    Michael Cummings65
    Will Tidey62
    Karl Matchett59
    Alex Dimond51