France vs Argentina 10 AM ET, June 30th, 2018, Kazan, Russia
Argentina and France, two struggling teams, face off in the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 phase. This match will be interesting to see how it plays out as both teams have not played well particularly well in the group stages. Argument could be made that France has been the better team of the two, since they went undefeated in the group as they won twice and drew once. But both wins were far from impressive, just barely actually, and the draw was in a game which both Denmark and France wanted the draw. Argentina needed an 87th minute goal to beat Nigeria 2-1 which got them here, without that goal they would already have been eliminated. Lionel Messi finally scored his first goal of the tournament and maybe that is what he needed to get him going after disappointing in the first two games. But when you have Messi you always have a shot, he is that great. Nevertheless this will be a must watch game as both teams have rich soccer history, have produced many iconic players and currently have many world class players, even if they both have been struggling. Could see this match go to extra and possibly to a penalty shootout, seems like the type of match that would go that far.
Prediction: Argentina 2-1 a.e.t. (after extra time)
Uruguay vs Portugal 2 PM ET, June 30th, 2018, Sochi, Russia
This game has a grind it out kind of game written all over it. Both teams play organized, tough to break down, rarely make mistakes and give their opponents one tough match. Uruguay come into this game winning all three group games and have yet conceded a goal thanks to their excellent defense led by their captain Diego Godin. Portugal was able to advance out of their goal led by their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored four goals at the tournament so far and is looking to add to his tally. When you have Ronaldo, just like Messi, you cannot count his team out at any moment. One moment of magic from one of these two players can be the sole difference in a game, and this game could come calling for Ronaldo to produce that kind of magic. Even with Uruguay solid at the back, they have a great partnership up top between Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez; both have already scored at the tournament. Do not expect a lot of goals in this match, this match will be decided by a few chances. So do not expect many of them, maybe one will be the difference.
Prediction: Portugal 1-0
Spain vs Russia 10 AM ET, July 1st, 2018, Moscow, Russia
The hosts Russia have performed really well so far at this year’s World Cup. Last time Russia advanced out of the group stage was in 1986 when it was part of the Soviet Union; but as Russia they have never advanced out of the group stage. Russia now takes on the 2010 World Cup champions Spain in the round of 16. Spain has had a roller-coaster ride of a World Cup so far. From firing their coach two days before their first game of the tournament, playing in the match of the tournament so far against Portugal which ended 3-3 and needed a 91st minute game tying goal against Morocco to tie the game at 2-2 and therefore barely win the group. Spain should comfortably beat this Russian team, but since Russia are the hosts they will have the crowd behind them which could make it a difficult environment for the Spanish. An early goal for Spain could see them calm the crowd down and calmly win this game, but if this game is still 0-0 by the 65th minute it opens the door for the Russian and anything is possible after that.
Prediction: Spain 2-0
Croatia vs Denmark 2 PM ET, July 1st, 2018, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Croatia has been one of the best teams at the World Cup so far, probably a top 3 looking team along with Belgium and Brazil. After topping the group by winning all three games, the Croats look to progress further in the tournament. Croatia’s golden generation has a great shot at equaling the 1998 Croatia team’s achievement, which won the bronze at the 1998 World Cup, and possibly taking it a step forward by making the finals. Croatia faces Denmark in the round of 16, a tricky team led by their star man Christian Eriksen. Denmark has not looked very good nor have they been bad based off their matches in the group stages. Denmark advanced with a win and two draws, enough to finish second in Group C. Croatia is the better team and should be able to beat Denmark but they must not take them lightly. Any team that makes it this far in the tournament is no easy team; all 16 teams remaining are capable of beating any of the teams remaining on their day.
Prediction: Croatia 2-0