Updated June. 27, 2014 05:49
No more second chances. It`s do or die.
The group stage of the 214 FIFA World Cup Brazil ends Friday, and the Round of 16 tournaments are set to begin on Saturday. Each team will either stay in the game or get eliminated. As of Thursday, the schedules for six of eight Round of 16 games are determined, with big matches awaiting soccer fans.
The match between the Netherlands and Mexico catches the eyes as a confrontation between a spear and a shield. The Netherlands, which advanced to the second round leading Group B with three wins, boasts the strongest scoring ability in this World Cup. It is the top scorer with 10 goals in three games, including a 5-1 victory against Spain, the champion of the 2010 tournament. A remarkable point is that none of the 10 goals were scored in a set piece. All of them were scored in open offensives. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben scored three goals each, more than half of the team`s total.
Mexico, which was in Group A together with Brazil, a favorite to win this World Cup, garnered the same seven points (two wins and one tie) as Brazil in the group stage but finished second on goal difference. It tied 0-0 with Brazil and defeated dark-horse Croatia 3-1. Mexico`s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa raised the world`s eyebrows with incredible gatekeeping. Attention is drawn to how well he will defend against the Netherlands` powerful offense.
The Columbia-Uruguay match is a showdown between two South American teams that are performing well in this World Cup. Columbia boasts such a resourceful player as James Rodríguez, who recorded two assists and three goals, while Uruguay has Luis Suárez (two goals), the most controversial player of this event who bit an opponent team`s player. Columbia, which squashed Japan 4-1, boasts splendid offense with nine goals, ranking second in team scoring in the group stage. However, Uruguay is also powerful enough to have defeated England and Italy in Group D, which was called the "group of death" in this World Cup. A variable is what kind of disciplinary action the FIFA will take against Suarez amid Uruguay`s President Jose Mujica came to his defense.
Also catching the eyes is the match between host Brazil and Chile, a dark horse in South America. Attention is drawn to the performances by Neymar, Brazil`s rising star who is sharing the top scoring ranking with Argentina`s Lionel Messi with four goals. Chile was eliminated in the Round of 16 in 1998 and 2010 World Cup tournaments by losing to Brazil. Having faced Brazil again in the knockout stage, Chile has some old scores to settle.
Led by soccer genius Messi, Argentina meets Switzerland, a European dark horse. Attention is drawn to whether Messi`s left foot, which scored all the four goals, will continue to do its magic. Switzerland is led by Xherdan Shaqiri, who netted a hat-trick against Honduras.