World Cup Knockout Stage Predictions

Round of 16

Uruguay vs Portugal

Boy oh boy did things turn sour quick for the Portuguese last Monday. Heading into stoppage time, they were set to play Russia on the clearly weaker side of the bracket, but Iran clawed back and so did Spain. So here we are: Suarez vs Ronaldo. Uruguay vs Portugal. This is one of the more evenly matched games in the Round of 16, and I predict this to go back and forth. I ultimately believe the team with the better player will win.

Predicted winner: Portugal

 

France vs Argentina

Both of these teams come not in peak form. France seemed to be a bit off, defeating Australia and Peru each by only one goal and drawing against Denmark. There is no doubt that they are one of the most talented teams in this tournament, but there are concerns about their chemistry. On the other hand, Argentina has been a complete disaster. Manager Jorge Sampaoli has been stripped of his power over the team and the players look like they are lacking motivation. France is clearly the better team here.

Predicted winner: France

 

Brazil vs Mexico

This is perhaps the most anticipated match of the tournament. I like how these teams match up. Mexico goes based off how well their counter attack works. They use their speed to catch defenses off guard and sneak in a goal. Brazil, however, have players like Thiago Silva and Marcelo to put a stop to that. Also, Brazil seemed to come alive later in the group stage thanks to players Philippe Coutinho and Neymar, while Mexico completely fell apart in their final match against Sweden.

Predicted winner: Brazil

 

Belgium vs Japan

Super power vs underdog. That is the only explanation for this game. Belgium ran through Group G acquiring 9 points and a +7 goal differential. Meanwhile, Japan shocked the world by coming in second in Group H over Senegal and Poland. While Japan played well in the group stage, it is no secret that they are the weakest team on this stacked side of the bracket.

Predicted winner: Belgium

 

Spain vs Russia

Here we go. The host team vs the team many predicted to win it all. Spain was expected to run through Group B, yet they struggled mightily throughout, tying against Portugal and Morocco and just squeaking by Iran thanks to VAR. Russia, on the other hand, has exceeded all expectations thanks to their play. There is no doubt that this game will be loud, but will it be enough to will Russia to victory? I think not.

Predicted winner: Spain

 

Croatia vs Denmark

“Woah, Croatia is really good, huh” says every person not from Croatia. Yeah, they really are. Croatia is easily the least talked about superteam in the world. They are led by superstars Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, but they have the depth around them to make some serious noise in the knockout stage. Denmark finished second in Group C behind France with 5 points. They haven’t played particularly well up to this point, and it is hard to imagine them righting the ship here against Croatia.

Predicted winner: Croatia

 

Sweden vs Switzerland

Sweden is coming into this game fresh off of a 3-0 rout of Mexico to place themself on top of Group F and away from the deadly other side of the bracket. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s 2-1 victory over Serbia helped them finished second in Group E and deservedly here in the Round of 16. Switzerland is not talked about much as they are overshadowed by the big guns, but they do know how to play quality soccer. However, Sweden seems to be on a mission, and they do not plan to be stopped this early in the knockout stage.

Predicted winner: Sweden

 

Colombia vs England

This game has the potential to be the best yet. England is lead by the red hot Harry Kane who leads all players with 5 goals. Colombia also comes into this game in good form after their 3-0 defeat of Poland and their most recent clutch win over Senegal. However, James Rodríguez, their top player, is currently nursing a calf injury and his status seems to be leaning more towards the doubtful side for this match. No James equals no win.

Predicted Winner: England

 

Quarterfinals

Portugal vs France

Ah, the Euro Cup final rematch. So if Portugal was able to defeat France without Ronaldo, they should be able to beat them with him then, right? It’s not that simple. France has matured since then, seeming to be less caught up in the crowd noise and more relaxed in their style of play. While Portugal has a knack for pulling off these tough wins by sticking around all game, I do not see that happening here, ending what could be Ronaldo’s last World Cup.

Predicted winner: France

 

Brazil vs Belgium

Can Belgium finally get over the hump? After years of calling this the golden age of Belgian soccer, Belgium has consistently disappointed at this point of the tournament. Brazil, however, is not stranger to the big stage. They might be the more experienced team, but Belgium has just played so much better. It will not stop here.

Predicted winner: Belgium

 

Spain vs Croatia

Just writing that made me excited. This matchup is so intriguing because of the talent on both sides along with the expectations that each team carries with them. Spain has a great defense led by Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, but the Croatian attack has just looked so unstoppable lately.

Predicted winner: Croatia

 

Sweden vs England

Surprise team against hungry fanbase. At this point, Sweden is just happy to be here. Without Zlatan, nobody would have expected this, but why stop now? England has a reputation to crack in big games, and they have not gone very far in these big tournaments. I do not fancy them to get over the hump here. Let the Swedish journey continue!

Predicted winner: Sweden

 

Semi-Finals

France vs Belgium

Here…we…go. The two top teams in the world, by my standards, meeting in the semi-final of the biggest international tournament in the world, it does not get much better than that. The last time that France was in a World Cup final was in 2006. This game was perhaps the most entertaining final ever. Zinedine Zidane put France in a tough position by head butting an Italian player in the 110th minute. Italy eventually won 5-3 in penalties. Let the ghost of Zinedine Zidane return!

Predicted Winner: Belgium

 

Croatia vs Sweden

Nobody saw this coming before the World Cup started. I saw not one person predict this semi-final awhile back, and for good reason. Both teams have put the soccer community on notice, asserting their dominance over the more widely known top teams. However, there is one team here that is truly more talented than the other: Croatia. Sorry Sweden, the party has been busted and it’s time to go home.

Predicted winner: Croatia

 

The Championship Game

Belgium vs Croatia

This one is truly difficult to predict. Both teams are so good and playing incredibly well, so how can one decipher this. Well, to begin my prediction, I see this game going past the 90 minute mark and extending into extra time. However, a winner will be crowned there, but who will it be? Will Belgium live up to its golden age hype or will Croatia show off how talented they are on soccer’s biggest stage? Thibaut Courtois will be the X-factor here. Give me Belgium to hold up the trophy and pop the champagne.

World Cup Winner: Belgium

 

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