The first two knockout-round matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were full of excitement, Brazil scraping through on penalties against Chile and James Rodriguez inspiring Colombia to victory against Uruguay.
Sunday sees the turn of the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and Costa Rica as each side looks to a last-eight spot in the pursuit of World Cup glory.
The Dutch face arguably their toughest test yet—although they did play reigning champions Spain in the group stage and beat them 5-1—against a confident Mexico side.
Meanwhile, in probably the most unlikely of the last-16 matchups, an impressive-looking Costa Rica face a Greek side who made it through to the knockout rounds courtesy of a late penalty as they beat Ivory Coast.
Read on for a full schedule for Day 17 as well as predictions for both of the games.
|June 29||5 p.m./Noon||Netherlands vs. Mexico||2-1|
|June 29||9 p.m./4 p.m.||Costa Rica vs. Greece||1-0|
Netherlands vs. Mexico
The Dutch are favourites to advance from this particular last-16 tie, and rightly so. Louis van Gaal's side thrashed Spain in their tournament-opener, proving that—on their day—they are a match for anyone.
While Mexico looked good in the group stages—claiming wins over Cameroon and Croatia and a 0-0 draw with Brazil—their stalemate with the hosts was a result of a poor display from the Selecao and an inspired performance from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, per BT Sport's Darren Fletcher:
Ochoa is ridiculous tonight - that's at least 4 top saves. I know Brazil haven't been great but they'd have won easily but for him— Darren Fletcher (@DFletcherSport) June 17, 2014
The Netherlands are arguably a better side than Brazil and, at this stage, are unlikely to put in a flat performance.
An in-form Robin van Persie returns from his suspension to lead the line for the Dutch, while Arjen Robben and Daley Blind look likely to star once again in this World Cup. They should prove too much for Mexico.
Mexico have reached the last 16 of the World Cup in the five previous tournaments but failed to reach a quarter-final. It looks like being six in a row for Miguel Herrera's side.
Costa Rica vs. Greece
The Greeks made it through to the last 16 in second place in Group C behind Colombia, having lost 3-0 to the South Americans, drawn 0-0 with Japan and defeated Ivory Coast 2-1.
While they looked relatively impressive against the Ivorians, a return of just two goals from the group stages is poor, and Costa Rica should have the quality to send Greece home.
Jorge Luis Pinto's side had a phenomenal group stage, topping Group D with wins over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, and only conceding once, from a penalty, per Squawka:
Teams to concede this fewest goals at the World Cup: Mexico, Belgium, Costa Rica (all 1), France, Brazil, Germany, Colombia (all 2).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2014
With Greece's lack of scoring ability, Costa Rica's defence and the attacking quality of the likes of Joel Campbell, the Central American side should advance.
However, they will be in for a tough time, as Greece will likely sit deep, but, as they proved by conceding four goals in the groups, they do not have an impenetrable defence.