Uruguay may not have been on everyone’s radars at the start of the World Cup but they are now. They managed to keep 3 clean sheets in the group stage and looked strong defensively. As well, Uruguay could possibly have the best striker pairing with Suarez and Cavani. With Cavani, he finally broke his curse of winning a game that he scored in. Uruguay will make it really tough on Portugal
France never quite looked like they got up to speed in the group stage but they still made it. With the youth and pace they have on the squad they may be able to make it difficult for Argentina. Look to Pogba to be creative in the midfield and Griezmann to test the defense. The young Mbappe could also feature going forward with his pace and skill.
The big thing for them is they have to play better. It is a simple as that. With all the drama apparently going on behind the scenes they have to come out as a team. Group matches showed they were a bunch of individual’s wearing jerseys. They need to be Argentineans playing together with a strategy. They can not just rely on Messi to win them every game.
Brazil has got better as the group stage went on. They struggled against Switzerland but the next two games looked better. While Neymar will be getting all the attention about being a key player and his theatrics the real player to watch is Coutinho who has been vital in attack for them.
Mexico has been night and day in their matches so far. They put on fantastic displays against Germany and South Korea but were bad against Sweden. They snuck through do to some heroics of the South Koreans against Germany. Javier Hernandez is going to have to have a big presence and try and make runs behind the Brazil back line.
One of the teams to beat this year. Belguim’s three group games have looked good to the eyes. Even when resting players they were still able to get a win against England. Lukaku getting service from Hazard and de Bruyne has resulted in a pile of goals from him. If there is a kink in the armor it has yet to be shown.
Japan has been a well-organized team so far in the tournament. Making the next round might have been a bit lucky with the fair play rule. They will have to be strongly organized against Belguim. Kagawa will need to create for them to have a chance.
Spain never quite hit their stride in the group stages. It took three games for de Gea to make his first save in the World Cup. The defense overall needs to be better with Ramos and Pique. They will also need Costa to get chances for them to win their next match.
Russia is in for a big test against Spain. The group stage was a mixed result for them as they scored tons of goals against the weaker teams and were, in turn, thrashed when playing Uruguay. Cheryshev and Dzyuba have been good for them and scoring goals.
Croatia has been the best team in the World Cup so far. They were able to convincingly beat favorites Argentina in the group. Croatia’s strength is in their midfield. Modric has been the best player in the World Cup and pulls the strings of the attack. He is paired with Rakitic and together will make it incredibly difficult for Denmark.
Denmark’s qualification for the knockout round came on the final day. Peru did them a favor by beating Australia. They also drew against group favorites France. Against Croatia, they will have to find a way to get past the midfielders. Eriksen will need to be spectacular as well as Schmeichel in net.
Switzerland was able to escape a group with Brazil without a loss. Hard work and strong composure with their shape been vital. A late goal against Serbia sealed the ticket to the next round. Shaqiri will be the player looking to break Sweden’s defense.
Much like their opponents, a strong defensive structure was key to their qualification. Not to be underestimated in a group with Mexico and Germany they were able to top it. It will be a very tactical game against Switzerland.
Columbia’s World Cup went off to a terrible start. First game against Japan had them down to 10 men just minutes into the match. The following two games against Poland and Senegal. The one question is if James will be fit to play against England. Falcao will be another factor for the match.
England has been a bit of a rollercoaster in the World Cup. Struggled in the first match against Tunisia that needed an extra time win. Stomping Panama in their second. An uninspired matched against Belguim where all their starters were rested. They will need to step up their game against Columbia and hope Kane will be able to score.