By Mike Corasaniti
Brazil v. Chile – Saturday, June 28 at 12 p.m. (ABC)
Chile was exposed in its 2-0 loss to the Dutch, but was playing some of the best soccer of the entire field until then. Second place in Group B secured an elimination match against Brazil, who played strong enough to lock up Group A despite an unexpected challenge against Mexico.
Luckily for the host nation, budding megastar Neymar has played up to his monster expectations coming into the World Cup with four goals in group play. If Neymar can continue to lead the sometimes inconsistent Brazilians, they should continue to cruise even with a heavy challenger in the way. Prediction: Brazil 2-1
Colombia v. Uruguay – Saturday, June 28 at 4 p.m. (ABC)
Once Uruguay recovered from its opening loss to Costa Rica, it started to look like a team that could make another deep run. But then Luis Suarez bit an opponent for the third time in his career and now Uruguay is looking a little less threatening to Group C winner Colombia.
James Rodriguez has led the Colombian squad after flying well under the radar heading in to the World Cup. The 22-year-old has has had one of the best showings with his 3 goals and 2 assists, and Uruguay's solid defense but shaken up lineup won't have enough to ground him. Prediction: Colombia 2-0
Netherlands v. Mexico – Sunday, June 29 at 12 p.m. (ESPN)
Robin Van Persie may still have the goal of the tournament, but Arjen Robben is playing better than everyone other than Messi. His three goals and one assist make Robben the leader for an extremely deep team that's eyeing a return trip to to the World Cup Final.
Standing in the way of 2014's most prolific offense is Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who's shutout against Brazil was one of the most impressive of the tournament. Miguel Herrera has also provided formidable offense, but unfortunately for Mexico, it's nothing that rivals Robben and Van Persie's accompanying firepower. The Dutch are just too loaded to stop. Prediction: Netherlands 3-0
Costa Rica v. Greece – Sunday, June 29 at 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Considering that it's still difficult to fathom how Greece made it out of Group C, it's even more difficult to see them getting any further. Not to diminish Greece's battling back against Ivory Coast to, but their lackluster performances against Colombia and Japan to start the tournament are enough to convince anyone that their run won't make it past the surprise Costa Rican powerhouse.
Don't let their 0-0 tie against the hapless Brits fool you, Joel Campbell and Co. are for real. And if their 1-0 victory over Italy showed how hard they can fight against an evenly matched opponent, their dismantling of Uruguay to begin group play proved that they won't back down against a higher ranked squad. If Greece can make it to the quarterfinals it would be the biggest upset of the knockout round. But don't bet on it. Prediction: Costa Rica 2-0
Group E, one of the weaker groups in the tournament, was France's division to lose. Thankfully for them they came out firing. With eight goals in their first two games, the French squad was able to tie Ecuador to finish group play without any concern for their hopes of moving on to the Round of 16 for the third time in the last three World Cups.
The luck of the draw will continue on for the French who will play Nigeria, one of the weakest teams to make it out of the group stage, for a shot at the quarterfinals. Nigeria showed its upside with their two goals against Argentina, but don't expect Emmanuel Emenike's offensive production to continue against France. Prediction: France 1-0
Germany v. Algeria – Monday, June 30 at 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Algeria has certainly been a fun team to watch so far this year, and if not for giving up two late goals to Belgium they may have come out on top of Group H instead of just squeezing by. But Algeria's weapons could still give Germany a few headaches, especially considering that the Germans have already had some trouble against an African opponent when they were forced to battle back against Ghana.
Algeria is enough to keep Miroslav Klose and Thomas Müller from looking ahead to a quarterfinal matchup against France for now. But after showing their ability to both dominate games and play well with their backs to the wall against the likes of Ghana, Portugal, and the United States, they also aren't looking at Algeria as their biggest threat. Not by a long shot. Prediction: Germany 3-1
Argentina v. Switzerland – Tuesday, July 1 at 12 p.m. (ESPN)
Seven goals in their opening matches were enough to get Switzerland comfortably out of Group E, but injuries to the Swiss back line are never good news with an opponent like Argentina on the docket. What Switzerland should look to take advantage though is the surprising inconsistency out of Argentina. Though they won all three games in Group F, none of them were as dominant as their fans would have hoped to see.
Still, Lionel Messi has lived up to his lofty World Cup expectations with four huge goals. And if it's been said once it's been said a million times: Argentina's World Cup hopes live and die with Messi. So if the best player on the planet can continue his success in the knockout stages, nobody can stand in their way. It's unfortunate for Switzerland that they're the first one's up. Prediction: Argentina 3-2
Belgium v. United States (ESPN) – Tuesday, July 1 at 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Belgium didn't necessarily have to get through the Group of Death to make it to their first Round of 16 since 2002, but their Golden Generation has still shown why their young squad has been given such high expectations. 23-year-old Eden Hazard could be one of the most dangerous strikers remaining in the field and could give the United States a lot to worry about.
The United States have proved though that they don't mind being the underdogs. Jürgen Klinsmann's men were considered by many to be long shots to even make it this far in the World Cup. If the jury is out on any of these elimination games it's this one, but it's hard to bet against the team that showed the better quality of play (Even if the results don't show it) in the tougher group to start the tournament. Prediction: United States 2-1