With Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands and Costa Rica safely through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Day 19 sees two more round-of-16 matches take place.
Monday sees Europe take on Africa with in-form France taking on outsiders Nigeria, while tournament joint second-favourites Germany are up against Algeria.
The European teams are hot favourites to progress, but an all-African quarter-final could be on the cards, which would guarantee an African nation in the last four.
Here is how you can watch these two crucial knockout matches:
|Schedule For World Cup: Day 18|
|June 30||France v Nigeria||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Brasilia||BBC One/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 30||Germany v Algeria||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Porto Alegre||ITV/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
Karim Benzema to Emerge From the Shadows
Despite his lofty achievements in the game, Karim Benzema has never quite been rated in the top bracket of players in world football.
The 26-year-old was originally a hot prospect in his Lyon days, and his transfer to Real Madrid proved how highly regarded he was. But in the Galactico team of superstars, Benzema took time to find his place and cement his reputation as one of Europe's premier goalscorers.
Last season saw the player truly make an impact for Madrid as he played the central role between the two most costly footballers plying their trade today: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
And this triple threat took the Spanish giants all the way to the Champions League final and a famous victory against newly crowned La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.
Benzema hit an impressive 25 goals in 49 La Liga and Champions league matches last term, per WhoScored.com, but he also added 16 assists―proving how his game has expanded and improved.
Now the task is for Benzema to fire his country to World Cup glory and prove himself on the biggest stage of all. The player already has three goals in the competition, per WhoScored.com, with France looking like a good outside bet to go all the way to the latter stages.
France manager Didier Deschamps recently spoke about Benzema and his valued contribution to the French cause, per Paul Brown of the Express. He said:
"We have always appreciated what he [Benzema] does for the team and judged him beyond just his goal scoring, something that has not always happened outside of France."
Team-mate Bacary Sagna also backed up his coach's words, saying, per Brown:
"We know what he gives us. He has always been an important part of the group and it's good to see him doing well."
James Ducker of The Times wrote about how Benzema had started to change the previously negative opinions about him:
Benzema now has the opportunity to take his place among the elite players of European football and claim the biggest prize in the game.
And as Madrid team-mates Ronaldo and Bale catch some rays on a sunny beach somewhere, Benzema can show he has the stomach to perform concurrently for club and country in front of an audience of millions.
If France continue to play as they have in the group stage, Nigeria will pose them very little threat. But in a World Cup of surprises and drama, the final outcome is almost impossible to predict.
Germany Following the Spanish Example
It is no surprise to anyone that Germany progressed to the knockouts after navigating their way through Group G, with seven points from three games.
But as world champions Spain crashed out with their tiki-taka ways and striker-less play, the Germans have somewhat assimilated their principles to achieve success.
Germany have adopted some of the Spanish attacking method, allowing versatile forward Thomas Muller to lead the front line, rather than a conventional striker.
The tactic has reaped dividends as Muller has now smashed four goals, per WhoScored.com, and looks a great bet for the Golden Boot.
Algeria have shown in the past two weeks they are tough opposition, but whether they have the defence to cope with Muller and company is questionable.
The Germans will surely expect a comfortable victory in the game and look forward to an all-European quarter-final clash with France. This would then set up a possible mouthwatering semi-final with hosts and favourites Brazil.
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