Just when you think the 2014 World Cup can't possibly keep up the insanely frenetic pace of the group stage, the round of 16 provided us with two matches decided by penalty kicks and three more that went into extra time.
Now, with the quarterfinals set following Belgium's thrilling victory over the United States on Tuesday, we are left to wonder what magic is left in Brazil. The only unfortunate part of being this deep into the event is there are only eight matches and eight countries left.
Whatever happens, all eyes will be focused on the pitch as we move closer to the final match on July 13. We've got a look at the quarterfinal bracket, upcoming fixtures and updated odds to win the World Cup.
|Fixture||Date, Time (ET)||Network|
|France vs. Germany||Friday, July 4 at 12 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Brazil vs. Colombia||Friday, July 4 at 4 p.m.||ESPN|
|Argentina vs. Belgium||Saturday, July 5 at 12 p.m.||ABC|
|Netherlands vs. Costa Rica||Saturday, July 5 at 4 p.m.||ESPN|
Odds current as of 1 p.m. ET on July 2.
How To Wager
With a couple of notable exceptions down on the board, the World Cup quarterfinalists aren't an unexpected lot. Germany (No. 2), Brazil (No. 3) and Argentina (No. 5) are all ranked in the top five of the FIFA rankings.
Even though Belgium hasn't dominated the way that a lot of top squads in the World Cup have, with just six goals through four matches, it's one of only four countries to make it through group stage and the round of 16 without a blemish (loss or tie).
Costa Rica provides the biggest bang for your buck since no one expected that squad to be here, as evidenced by those insanely long odds to win the World Cup despite being one of eight countries left standing.
If there's one country that you just have to put all your faith into, Argentina fits all the criteria you could possibly have, despite Diego Maradona telling Phillip Eta of the Nigeria Daily Post the squad has no shot after a 1-0 victory against Switzerland.
The team has no change of pace, no movement at the front. I have something inside of me that is very strong, it’s like bitterness, rage, anger. Argentina will have to play much better as a team.
It's precisely because of that performance against Switzerland to bet on Argentina. First, even though Lionel Messi is "very lonely" in the words of Maradona, the superstar put his squad in a position to win that match when it counted the most.
Which squad should be the favorite to win the 2014 World Cup?
On top of that, the biggest questions around Argentina when the World Cup began, including from coach Alejandro Sabella, were on defense. Yet so far this tournament, Albiceleste has given up three goals in four matches, the same total as Brazil and Germany.
Brazil will remain the favorite because of its reputation and its hosting the World Cup, but it was one penalty kick off the post against Chile to potentially being eliminated. Germany had problems beating a decent-but-not-special Algeria squad.
Even as you try to pinpoint a favorite in this World Cup, we have seen how quickly everything can get blown up. The United States missed a wide-open opportunity in the final minutes of regulation against Belgium. Nothing is as simple as it seems this year.
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