FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 - Round of 16 preview.
The knockout stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the second and final stage of the World Cup, following the group stage. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage to compete in a singe elimination style tournament.
The round of 16 will be the first round of the knockout stage of the World Cup with the winning teams progressing to the quarter-finals and the loosing teams packing their bags and flying home.
Group A toppers, Uruguay will kick-start the Knockout stage of the world, when they take on the Group B runners-up, South Korea at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
URUGUAY vs SOUTH KOREA
Uruguay who remained unbeaten in the group stages without conceding a single goal, will start as the favorites for this one. The two time world champions will look to redeem some of their lost glory by qualifying to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1974.
This is only the second time, South Korea have managed to make it to the knockout stage. First time they did it was in the 2002 World Cup, which they Co-hosted with Japan.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Uruguay look to be the better team, both on paper and on form. They have a good mixture of attacking and defensive players in their squad. Forlan would be the key player for them. His experience and his ability to find the back of the net makes him the most valuable asset of the Uruguayan team.
Korea's attacking football might test the somewhat under-tested Uruguayan defense. Korea would look to make use of set-pieces and try to score early and not let Uruguay control the pace of the game.
Park Chu-young looks to be in great touch and should provide the spark they need up-front. Their defense is a big worry though. They have conceded 6 goals in the group stage.
The Fragile Korean defense will find Forlan and Saurez too hot to handle. I will go for a 2-1 win for Uruguay.
USA vs GHANA
USA, after their enthralling win over Algeria finished on top of Group C and more importantly avoided Germany. They face the Group D runners-up, Ghana.
USA are a great team when it comes to playing attacking football. They have loads of goals in them. What would worry their coach is their start. They are very slow starters. Also, their defense has loads of cracks in it.
Ghana has a good mix of pace and physical strength. What they don't have is goals. They have only scored two goals in the competition and both were from penalties. Their finishing against Germany was very poor. They really need to work on their finishing.
Interestingly USA and Ghana were in the game group in the last World Cup and Ghana came on top with a 2-1 victory, sending the USA crashing out of the World Cup.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This one will be a very open game. Both teams can match each others pace and physical strength.
Ghana will look to take advantage of the slow-starting USA in the early moment of the game. But player like Gyan and Ayew really need to finish better and score some open play goals, instead of relying on penalties.
USA will look to start better. They seem to have more quality up-front and players like Dempsey, Donovan and Altidore can give the Ghanaian defense a torrid time. But the key player for me is Bradley. He control the whole pace of the game and Ghana should really keep an eye on him.
Well it all comes down to who finishes better. I think USA will be the team who does it on Saturday and I will go with a 2-1 win for the USA.
GERMANY vs ENGLAND
The first time the Germans faced the English in a football pitch, was on the 23rd of November, 1893 and England won that by 11 goals!
Well, its certainly not going anywhere near that easy when they take on the Germans on Sunday at the Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein.
Germany kicked-off their World Cup with a 4-0 demolition of Australia. And the win against Ghana put them on top of Group D. They have a great squad and the young guns of the team like Ozil and Khedira have certainly taken the center-stage.
England didn't have good start in this world cup. They only scored twice in their three matches in the Group Stages. They could have avoided Germany in the second round if they had scored one more goal.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This one will certainly be played, won or lost in the mid-field.
England will look to build-up on the win over Slovenia. They will probably start with the same except Carragher coming in for Upson. It's a big game for them and England always look to sit deep in such games and pay for it. Player like Rooney and Lampard, who have been completely out of form really need to fire for England if they want to win this one.
While England may look a much stronger side on paper, but Germany 's performance have certainly been much better than the English. Ozil, Muellar and Khedira along with Podolski and Klose will certainly pose a problem for the English defense.
Gary Lineker once said, “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win”.
I will take his word for it. Germany will win it 1-0.
ARGENTINA vs MEXICO
Favorites to lift the World Cup, Argentina will be up against Mexico at Soccer City, Johannesburg on Sunday.
At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Argentina needed a stunning extra-time effort from Maxi Rodriguez to beat Mexico 2-1. They would hope to wrap it up sooner this time around.
Argentina are the hands down favorites to win this one. It will be very interesting to see what team Maradona chooses to start this one. Bolatti and Otamendi were impressive against Greece. He will probably play Otamendi in place of Gutirrez. Whatever changes he makes, one thing is for sure, Argentina will attack.
Mexico are a good team. They are a very well organized group with Marquez marshaling the defense and mid-field. Carlos Vela and Franco along Dos Santos are a good attacking force. Especially Dos Sontos, who has been very impressive in this World Cup.
WHAT TO EXPECT
With the likes of Messi, Tevez and Higuain up-front Argentina will attack. They scored 7 goals in the Group Stage and could have easily doubled that tally with chances they created.
Messi will be the key. He has been amazing in this World Cup. Even after being marked by more than one player, he still manages to run free. Also, Argentina depend a lot on him and play around him especially when they haven't scored. So if Mexico somehow stop Messi they might have a chance
And That is exactly what Mexico will do. They will sit deep and mark Messi. They will park the bus and try to frustration Argentina for as long as possible. And they use the pace of Dos Santos and Vela to launch counter attacks and try to expose Argentina's untested defense.
Argentina have too much quality on and of the field. They will win it 3-0.
NETHERLANDS VS SLOVAKIA
Slovakia pulled off one the biggest upset in the history of the World Cup, when they beat the defending champions Italy, 3-2 at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.
It will be very interesting to see what they can conjure up, when the take on the Dutch at the Durban Stadium, Durban in the second round. They would strive on the fact that they have nothing to loose against Netherlands.
Netherlands are the only European team to win all of their group games and are also one of the favourites to lift the World Cup. With the likes of Van Persie , Robben, Van Der Vaart and Sniejder in their squad they can certainly go all the way.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Netherlands are a very good team. They have immense quality. With Robben getting closer to being match fit they are a force to reckon with. Sniejder and Van Der Vaart would control the mid-field and try to feed Van Persie.
Robben would be the key player for me. The Dutch would want him to be on form in the later stages of the tournament and will give him all the freedom to find it in against Slovakia.
Slovakia should look to play attacking football. If they get overwhelmed by the stage they find themselves on, then Netherlands will run over them. They will try to test the goalkeeper whenever and from wherever they can. They have nothing to loose in this match, so they should go for it.
Netherlands just have too much quality and get a comfortable 2-0 win.
BRAZIL VS CHILE
In an all South-American second round clash, Brazil and Chile will take on each at the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg. They played each other twice during the COMNEBOL qualifiers and Brazil won both the encounters comfortably.
After an unconvincing start against North Korea Brazil put up a great show against Ivory Coast. They were also the better side in the match against Protugal. With Kaka, Robinho and Elano return for the match against Chile, they look to be a very formidable side indeed.
This Chilean side can give Brazil a run for their money. They are very well organized, they know how to defend and they have the pace to trouble the aging Brazilian defense. They missed many chances against Switzerland and Honduras, they cannot afford to that against Brazil.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A typical South American style football match.
Brazil have the extra quality and they will try and make full use of it to open Chile's defense. They looked a little tired in the second half against Portugal, but got away with it. They cannot afford to do that in the knockout stage,
Elano and Kaka are the key players for them. They can not only put they ball in good areas and feed the strikers but they can also score goals themselves.
Chile would be a little cautious at the start. They would play on the counter and attack brazil with their pace. Estrada, Mendel and Ponce are suspended for this one, so that will be a problem for them.
Their key players are Alexis Sanchez and VIdal. Sanchez has the speed and quality to trouble Juan and Bastos while Vidal would a key for them in the mid-field. Chile missed many chances against Switzerland and Honduras. They can't afford to do that against Brazil.
Brazil are more likely to win this one......but something seemed off in their game game against Portugal. Maybe it was the absence of some players or maybe its just me....
I will stick my neck out and say Brazil will win this one 2-1.
PARAGUAY VS JAPAN
Japan were the second Asian country to qualify to the knockout stage of the World Cup after South Korea. They take on Paraguay at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria on Tuesday.
A great performance against a strong Danish side aided by two sensational free-kicks propelled Japan into the round of 16. They were in a very tough group and not many predicted them to qualify. They progressed quite comfortably in the end and they have a good chance of making it even further.
Paraguay look more like an European side than a South American one. They have a talented pool of players and they all compliment each other very well on the field. They also have a great attacking force consisting of Valdez, Cruz and Barrios.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Paraguay have the edge on paper. Their European style of play would suit them very much against Japan. They would have to be careful about the Japanese free-kicks and set plays. The key player for them will be Riveros. he is link between their defense and attack.
Many thought Japan will not be able to come to terms with the physical game of Denmark and Cameroon in their Group Stage. Well, they did better than that and beat both Cameroon and Denmark.
They paid the price for sitting deep against Netherlands. Japan will look to attack and they should too as they are good at it. They are very good at set-pieces and will to take advantage from every set-piece they get. Their
Their key player is Keisuke Honda. His is a very talented player. He has great pace and the his finish is top-class. He already has 2 goals and a assist to his name and will look to add more to that tally against Paraguay.
Paraguay are well organized but japan seem to have the oomph factor. I will go for a 2-1 win for Japan.
SPAIN VS PORTUGAL
Spain will take on Portugal at the Green Point Stadium, Cape Town on Tuesday. It;s a real shame they are have to play each other so early in the tournament but it was likely to happen. this one is going to be a cracking contest.
Portugal will be confident after coming out of the group of death unscathed. They are a good attacking side but surprisingly, their defense is their strenght. They are they only team along with Uruguay who have not conceded a single goal in the group stage.
Spain suffered a set back when they lost their opening match against Switzerland. After that initial stumble they have recovered quite well. They have an excellent squad and with David Villa firing on all cylinders, they look deadly.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Spain know only one way of playing, they know how to attack. They are great going forward and their intricate passing and movement is a real joy to watch. But their defense is a real problem. They commit too many players up-front and then get caught. They really have to be careful about that.
Also, Alonso being injured might turn in their favor. If Alonso doesn;t play, Fabregas will and that really help Spain a lot more. Torres will be key player for me. He is not even close to his best right now and he really has to lift his game.
Portugal will try to attack whenever they can and will cause Spain's vulnerable defense loads of problems. Portugal have a great defense and that will be the key for them. It will really help them if they play on the counter. Their team is shaped to play that way.
Ronaldo will be the key for them. He has not been at his best in this tournament but we all know what he can do when he is at his best. Portugal need a great performance from his if they look to beat Spain.
It will be a high-scoring match and Spain will win it 3-2.