Brazil has reason to party after its team squeaked past Chile
Offensive powerhouse Netherlands face Mexico's nearly airtight defense Sunday
Guess who has always won when Algeria has played Germany in the past?
Everybody loves Colombia and James Rodriguez
Who would have thought it? Team Brazil just scraping by in a cliffhanger penalty kick shootout.
But from here on out, where every game means somebody’s going home, there’s a 12th man on the field, a true equalizer – roaring determination.
Like what you’ve seen so far? Well, the World Cup will dish up even more soccer superlatives as the “Round of 16” kicks off on Saturday.
It meets Colombia in the quarterfinals after it sent Uruguay home to join striker Luis Suarez, whom FIFA suspended for biting an Italian player last week.
That may have cost Uruguay the game, but at the same time, Colombia has hit the World Cup like a whirlwind, and fans are swooning for their stand-out midfielder James Rodriguez. He has shot half of Colombia’s total 10 goals in the tournament so far.
Newby fans of Team USA soccer who left the television on over the weekend instead of waiting for America’s faceoff with Belgium on Tuesday, must certainly have caught footy fever from Saturday’s exhilarating matches.
More to come, in the Round of 16 knockout matches – see viewing times and channels below. Also included: a nice treat at bottom. Here’s what to watch for:
They may be epidemic in Brazil after the celebration parties. Three factors are at work here:
A. It was a Saturday night.
B. Brazil won.
C. Duh, it’s Brazil during World Cup.
But Brazil fans have a lot of time to recover from the party, since Brazil doesn’t play again until Friday. If they win that quarterfinal match against Colombia, get ready of a repeat of last night.
In the meantime, fans can take in two games on Sunday while vegging in front of the TV.
2. The bite
Netherlands vs. Mexico, noon ET Sunday, ESPN, Univision
The Netherlands are to Europe what Wisconsin is to the United States in its clichéd role as a cheese maker – although in reality, the European Union says Germany and France make more of it. But Holland has the stuff to be the big cheese of global soccer this year.
The guys in screaming orange jerseys have shot the most goals in this year’s World Cup – 10, compared to the top two seeds – Germany’s and Brazil – which have seven each.
They dominated their group, roundly stomping reigning world champ Spain 5-1 in their first game.
But offense isn’t everything, as Mexico’s team will attest. They practically put a brick wall in front of their goal during group play, allowing just one ball to get in. They held Brazil to a 0-0 tie.
All they need to do now is score more. Javier Hernandez might just have it in him. He’s been quite a goal-getter in the past.
And Dutch fans certainly make an impression parading down Brazil’s streets in those bright jerseys.
4. Pleased to meet you. Now, please, go home!
Costa Rica vs. Greece, 4 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN, Univision
They’ve never met on a World Cup pitch before. And it’s no wonder.
Greece has shot only two goals so far this tournament but also allowed only one. Costa Rica has shot twice as many, while allowing only one and putting away major contenders Italy and Uruguay.
Sound like Greece is the underdog? Consider that FIFA ranks the team 12th in the world and Costa Rica 28th.
5. Scoring apps
Colombia has not only won each of its games so far, it has also won the hearts of millions of fans.
The spirit of the team’s play, the scoring surge by Rodriguez. But crowds also love Colombia’s signature celebration group dance. If Colombia continues its winning streak, it may catch on.
Watch for it in a disco near you.
Click the pic to play!
5. Monday reality checks
What betting odds would you give on these Round of 16 matches coming up Monday?
* First, France vs. Nigeria. France has won a previous World Cup title, has shot eight goals in group play and is currently ranked 17 in the world. Nigeria has shot only three goals in the tournament and is ranked 44th.
* Second, Germany vs. Algeria. Germany has three previous World Cup titles and is ranked 2nd globally behind Spain, which lost in group play – making Germany the top team left in this year’s cup. Algeria has never won a World Cup title, has only even participated three times and is ranked 22nd globally.
Com’on. Pony up that those odds. No? Already know you’re in for a surprise, eh?
You’re right. France has yet to beat Nigeria. They’ve met once before, and Nigeria won. And – saving the best for last – Germany has lost to Algeria both times they went toe-to-toe. Algeria has four goals from those two meets to Germany’s one.
But Germans believe in their team and are gearing up for them to go all the way. It has spawned a flurry of homemade online music videos, each one worse than the next – all in good fun.
The real fave seems to be by 15-year-old Fritz, a singer without finesse but full of gawky charm, braces and all.