As the dust settles on the climatic games which determine who will face who in the round of 16, we look at the performances of the teams so far and offer a prediction for the next round.
USA: Impressive, the USA overcame some poor refereing decisions, including two wrongly disallowed goals to deservedly top their group following come-from-behind draws with England and Slovenia and a last gasp win over a spirited Algeria side.
Key Player: Landon Donovan. Led from the front, scoring two vital goals in the process. If he can keep up this form expect the USA to further their World Cup adventure.
England: Slow starters to say the least, uninspired against the United States and awful against Algeria but pulled it out of the bag with a scrappy but deserved win against Slovenia.
Key Player: Hard to call, but simply for delivering when it counted it will fall to Jermaine Defoe for a true poachers goal.
Slovenia: Heart breaking for Slovenian fans who were going through until Donovan's last minute strike, but still put up a strong fight and did not shame themselves.
Key Player: Samir Handanovic, rightly talked up by Giggi Buffon, made several remarkable saves and might be pushing for a bigger club now.
Algeria: Spirited but ultimately limited team, were not humbled by anyone and can leave the World Cup with heads held relatively high
Key Player: Nadir Belhadj offered real pace and some real crossing ability, a little more ambition by Algerian forwards might have resulted in goals.
Germany: Ultimately worthy group winners, pulled back from their Serbian slip-up and put on a real master class of attacking football against Australia while showing some nerves of steel against Ghana.
Key Player: Mesut Oezil, the speedy playmaker can be a real game-changer with darting runs and clever passes, his finishing can be hit and miss, he tends to choke one-on-ones but his 18 yarder against Ghana was pure class.
Ghana: The 'Black Stars' are a very physically imposing team with lots of strength and pace, unfortunately they miss a true finisher which I fear will cost them in the next round.
Key Player: Gyan Asmoah, strong, fast and fearless, if he can fix his finishing he could be one of Europes next most wanted.
Australia: Following their battering by Germany in their first game, the Australians bounced back to draw with Ghana with 10 men, and beat an impressive Serbian outfit, not quite enough in the Group of Death, but encapsulated their admirable 'never-say-die' attitude.
Key Player: Tim Cahil, unfortunate to miss a game for a soft red card, he gave the German defence problems and put a quality header past the Serbian keeper to put Australia in the lead.
Serbia: Jekel and Hyde. Sloppy against Ghana, inspired against Germany, and poor against Australia, their lack of consistency cost them a place in the finals which will be a major dissapointment to a team with serious aspirations of leaving the groups.
Key Player: Milos Krasic, was poor against Ghana but fantastic against Germany. He really showed what he is capable of, but like the rest of his team he suffered from inconsistency. Near enough unplayable on his day.
The Round Of 16
USA vs. Ghana
This is an interesting match-up which could potentially go either way. Both teams have hard working players with a touch of class smattered throughout. I do feel however that the USA will take their momentum into this round and with their superior finishing abiltities they should prevail.
That being said should Ghana play like they did tonight they are more then capable of scoring. I think the USA's defensive discipline might prove the deciding factor in this match.
Prediction USA 2 - 1 Ghana
GERMANY vs. England
This is a battle between the experienced English team and the youthful Germans. Both have proved that they have players of the highest quality but I do think that Rooney's lack of form might be a important aspect of this match-up. If Caharrager is reinstated in the heart of the English defence, I believe the speedy German's might be too much for him and Terry to keep up with, however the German's have proven that they have defensive frailties too.
This might come down to the abilities of the keepers, where once again, experience battles youth with the 40 year old David James up against a sprightly 23 year old in Manuel Neuer. Expect this to be a tense affair which might well require the dreaded penalties to decide.
Prediction Germany 1 - 1 England (Germany win on penalties)
Have I overlooked a player worthy of recognition from the groups, or are my predictions well off? let me know below.
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