World Cup Last Sixteen Round-up
Now that we enter the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup, here is a roundup of the best team performances so far, and the over and under achievers from the group stages.
Top 5 Performers
1. Netherlands: In arguably the toughest group, the Netherlands have been outstanding. With the joint highest goal difference and 9 points out of 9, a run to the semi-final of Mexico and then the winner from Costa Rica and Greece gives them a fantastic opportunity to repeat their run in the 2010 World Cup. In particular, they have been excellent on the counter (scoring 3 – the most in the competition), the most goals from open play (5), and have scored 10 in total (again, the most in the competition). With van Persie back from suspension, things are looking good for The Flying Dutchmen. All this despite having the 2nd lowest amount of possession in the entire group stage!
2. Colombia: 3 wins out of 3 and the joint best goal difference with Netherlands, Colombia made it through with little trouble. Despite coming into the competition with no Falcao, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado have excelled going forward, and Colombia have already put in their best performance in their entire World Cup history by reaching the Quarter-finals.
3. Germany: Always performing well in big competitions, Germany started with what looked like a comfortable win against Portugal. Ghana and USA troubled the Germans more so than Portugal, but with 7 points and Thomas Muller in top form alongside a host of world class midfielders, Germany are potentially the best chance Europe has of winning the World Cup in South America for the first time. Germany have the best pass success of any team left in the tournament, and the second highest level of possession. I expect Germany to pass their way to success against an energetic Algerian team.
4. Costa Rica: Unbeaten in three games against the top 10 World ranked teams with two clean sheets and only 1 goal conceded, Costa Rica have been the surprise package. 50/1 to win the group, Costa Rica now face Greece, arguably one of the worst performers to make it through the group stages. Greece have only scored 2 so far, so a Costa Rican shut out appears likely.
5. Mexico: Coming second to Brazil on goal difference, a hard-fought victory against Cameroon was only the beginning: Ochoa’s heroics in the 0-0 with Brazil and 3-1 win in the vital game against Croatia set Mexico up to equal their finishes since ’94, where they have reached the last 16 in every year since 1994. A tough game against Netherlands stands in their way of bettering these past performances.
1. Greece: With only 2 goals scored, Greece did well to get out of the group, although Costa Rica will fancy their chances against them.
2. Uruguay: Uruguay can count themselves very fortunate to make it through their group given the way they have played. Godin’s cynical first half challenge and Suarez’s bite on Chiellini just two of the decisions to go for them – but with Suarez banned for his indisgression, Uruguay’s luck soon ran out against Columbia and James Rodriguez. In terms of overachieving based on original expectations before the tournament started, you’d replace them for the spirited USA team who have showed that great work ethic and organisation can make up up a short-fall in individual talent.
3. Algeria: Algeria have never reached the knockout stages at a World Cup, until now. Although Capello’s Russia were poor, making history is always difficult. A tough game against Germany next up, though, but a wonderful chance for a bit of payback for 1982. Even though Algeria beat Germany in the group stages, the Germans and Austrians then conspired to play out in the final group game, pretty much the only result that sent them through and Algeria out. It is because of Algeria we now have the final group games played at the same time.
1. Brazil: The group stages have been disappointing for Brazil in how they have played. Although Brazil aren’t especially renowned for their defensive solidity, this Brazil team is arguably better at the back than going forward. However, an over-reliance on the goals of Neymar have somewhat fortunately seem them win their group.
2. Belgium: Although Belgium have won all 3 of their games, their performances have flattered to deceive. Lukaku has been poor, and only really van Buyten and Mertens have stood out for the Red Devils. I bet they miss Christian Benteke…
3. Argentina: Yes, they are another team that managed to qualify with maximum points, but some people’s favourites for the tournament have been far from dynamic, relying on Messi to rescue them in every one of their group games. Diego Maradona once took an Argentinian team all the way on his own shoulders, but can Messi do it too?
MOMS Predicted Last 16 Qualifiers
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