World Cup Russia 2018: R16, It’s Coming Home

So here we are, after a long group stage the Round of 16 starts with really great matches with some that, in my opinion, belong more in a quarterfinal but c’est la vie. We have no games until tomorrow but in the meantime let’s look at the bracket

bracket

Day 1: I’m Blue (da ba dee da ba daa)

Argentina v France

While France coasted on their group stage without really showing (or needing) their full strength, Argentina had a tumultuous qualification and had to win a do or die on their last game. This might help them mentally, except that again they looked stunned after Nigeria’s goal. At least the Argentinian press has calmed down, for like a day or so. Let’s see if France finally shows what hey can do and if Argentina can pull it together, they’ve been given the chance by the football gods

Uruguay v Portugal

Similar to France, Uruguay also had no problems in their group stage, except that unlike the French I’m pretty sure that Uruguay has showed precisely their game. Staunch defending, get your goal, kill the game. In front they have a Portugal team that was almost eliminated by an Iranian team with a lot of heart and, even more concerning, their leader missed a PK. Ronaldo has the drive, will that be enough?

Day 2: They Sang the Red Flag

Spain v Russia

Spain as Portugal also had a lot of trouble to advance and in their case against a team that only fought for their honor. Their midfield looks as strong as ever but their defense is old and shaky and their keeper hasn’t had the best of showings (even without the mistake he seems slow to react and just last game had his first save). That shouldn’t matter that much as in front have a Russia that when face with their first real opposition  completely crumbled. Home advantage took them here, but this is where they get off

Denmark v Croatia

Denmark did barely enough against a Perú that just couldn’t find the goal, took a draw against Australia and barely played anything against a France that didn’t care at all. In front they have a Croatia that had 2 really convincing wins and a third meaningless one with their reserves. Croatia has shown that their midfield is probably the best of the tournament, can create a lot of chances and control the pace of game. After an incredible run in ’98 they’ve choked at the big stage, this seems to be a return to glory

Day 3: Cosas Imposibles

México v Brazil

Before the World Cup a lot of people didn’t think México would get out of the group and that if they did they’d end second and face Brazil. After the first two matches everyone was expecting them to finish first, avoid Brazil and finally get to quarterfinals, but they shat the bed on the last group match so here we are. Brazil hasn’t played that well, but good enough to finish first not due to Neymar but Coutinho who has been superb. México showed great stuff in their first match and good enough in the second but was in shambles in the third. México did defeat most of this team in the Olympics, and held a 0-0 in the last World Cup, but 4-6 years is a lifetime in football. Let’s just try to not do a Copa América again, please

Japan v Belgium

Belgium are so good that even when they try to lose they win. One of the most consistent teams on this tournament they probably won’t have much of a problem against Japan, a team that defeated a 10-manned Colombia, tied against a Senegalese team that just can’t hold a lead and lost against a Polish team that had nothing to fight for. Belgium should enjoy this game, as apparently they chose the hard route by winning

Day 4: They’ve seen it all before

Sweden v Switzerland 

After crushing México and surprisingly winning the group, Sweden must feel pretty good. They’ve played a practical and effective kind of football and it worked. In front they have a Swiss team that couldn’t quite do it against the ticos that were just fighting for honor, but they did push Brazil to a draw and (supposedly Liverpool target) Shaqiri is always dangerous. This is a great chance for both teams

England v Colombia

Supposedly England won by losing as they got the weaker side of the bracket, of course this only works if you win the first match and that could be a tall order given the rival. England has played well, but they haven’t really faced a proper rival until the match against Belgium and for that one both teams fielded their 2nd stringers. Colombia has looked shaky without James and Senegal proved that if there’s only Cuadrado you can neutralize it. Poland proved that if they have both you’re screwed. It’s not gonna be easy, lads.

NOTE: From now on there’s no daily thread, just one thread per round.