Andy Maynard analyses this weekend’s Colossus!
We’re now entering the knockout stages of the World Cup which means this will be the penultimate £10,000,000 Colossus coupon of the tournament.
Brazil and Chile get us underway on Saturday evening in what should be an enthralling tie, while Netherlands, Argentina, Germany and France are also involved.
You can play with 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 stakes and remember Colossus Bets pools are now also live at http://www.betdaq.co.uk/UI/Colossus/.
Here are my views and selections;
Brazil v Chile (Saturday, 5pm)
Group A winners Brazil face Group B runners-up Chile in the last 16 for the second successive World Cup.
This will be the first big test for the hosts, who beat Chile 3-0 in 2010, as they qualified from the group stage relatively trouble free – only a goalless draw with Mexico denied them taking maximum points.
Despite not being at their best Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men still managed to beat Croatia 3-1 and Cameroon 4-1, respectively, with golden boy Neymar, who is currently the tournament’s joint-top scorer with four goals, the stand out player.
The one change Scolari could make to an otherwise settled starting XI is to bring in Fernandinho in place of Tottenham’s Paulinho.
The Man City midfielder came on at half-time during the win over Cameroon and capped off his performance with a goal.
Chile, meanwhile, have won many people over thanks to their well organised and hard-working style of play as they qualified in second place ahead of Spain and behind Netherlands.
Jorge Sampaoli’s men sealed qualification by beating Spain 2-0 in the second match after they had disposed of Australia 3-1 in the opener.
They came unstuck against the Dutch though in the final group game losing 2-0 but key player Arturo Vidal, who missed that defeat, should return to action in this match.
Forward, Alexis Sanchez will be crucial – he already has one goal and one assist to his name and will prove tricky for a Brazil defence that has looked shaky at times.
This all-South American tie is a fantastic encounter to begin the knock-out stages and it’s hard to look past both teams scoring which has occurred in two of the hosts three matches so far.
Brazil have a fantastic record against Chile having won nine and drawn one of their last 10 meetings, while all nine previous head-to-heads have each seen more than two goals.
With this in mind I’m going for Any Other Draw, a 3-2 win for Brazil as well as a 2-1 win for the hosts which was the outcome when they last met in November.
3-2, 2-1, AOD
Colombia v Uruguay (Saturday, 9pm)
The second all-South American last 16 fixture features Group C winners Colombia against Group D runners-up Uruguay.
Colombia have been one of the most impressive teams in the competition so far after they qualified for the knock-out stages with maximum points by beating Greece 3-0, Ivory Coast 2-1 and Japan 4-1 in the final match.
Attacking midfielder James Rodriguez has undoubtedly been their star man scoring one goal in each of their three matches so far as well as making two assists.
The Monaco player was rested for the first half of the victory over Japan and was brought on when the score was level at 1-1.
The 22-year-old made a devastating impact though scoring one and setting up two for teammate Jackson Martinez as they ended up comfortable winners.
Winger Juan Cuadrado has also impressed with a goal and two assists to his name.
Uruguay, on the other hand, will be without their star player for the remainder of the tournament as Luis Suarez was banned for nine international matches after he was caught on camera biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
The incident occurred in the final group match between the pair with the South American side scoring the winner with just nine minutes remaining thanks to centre-back Diego Godin.
Godin will be the key man against Colombia given the threat of Rodriguez and whoever coach Jose Pekerman decides to opt for just in front.
Uruguay were without Suarez in their opener against Costa Rica and they looked poor losing 3-1, while the Liverpool man proved to be the difference against England as his two goals knocked out Roy Hodgson’s men.
Colombia are undefeated in their last 10 matches (W6 D4) heading in to this encounter, while in qualification each team won their home match in this head-to-head.
Without Suarez though, Uruguay look weak, while Colombia are getting better with every game – so I’m going for 3-1 and 2-0 wins.
Netherlands v Mexico (Sunday, 5pm)
Surprise Group B winners Netherlands face Group A runners-up Mexico on Sunday evening
Louis van Gaal’s men are just one of three teams who boast a 100 per cent winning record in the competition so far as they shocked many people by winning a group containing holders Spain and dark horses Chile.
The Dutch got off to an explosive start against the Spanish winning 5-1 before netting another three in the 3-2 win over Australia and the finally they cemented their spot as group winners by beating Chile 2-0.
Netherlands are currently the leading scorers in the competition with 10 goals, six of which have been scored by key duo Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
Mexico, meanwhile, escaped from a tough looking group ahead of Croatia and Cameroon to join Brazil in the last 16.
They only missed out on top spot on goal difference but they had the best defensive record in their group conceding just once in three matches.
‘Keeper Guillermo Ochoa put in a man of the match performance in the goalless draw against the hosts and he’ll need to be at his best again to keep out the free scoring opponents.
Either side of the point against Brazil, the 1-0 scoreline over Cameroon flattered their opponents, while they finished in style with a 3-1 victory over Croatia.
History suggests we’ll see goals at either end as all four previous encounters have seen both teams scoring with more than two goals in each.
It’s hard to back against a Dutch side that have lost just once in their last 24 matches so I’m going for a 2-1 win as well as 1-1 as cover.
France v Nigeria (Monday, 5pm)
Group E winners France face Group F runners-up Nigeria on Monday evening.
Didier Deschamps’ men looked impressive in their opening two games winning 3-0 and 5-2 before they rested the majority of their regular starting XI in the goalless draw with Ecuador.
Karim Benzema has been one of the star performers of the tournament and is the hunt for the golden boot with three goals to his name so far.
The likes of Mathieu Valbuena and Blaise Matuidi have been equally impressive behind him and deserve recognition and while the defence was rarely troubled against Ecuador and Honduras they did concede two against Switzerland.
Their opponents, Nigeria needed just four points from their three group games to reach the last 16.
The African outfit were disappointing in their goalless draw with Iran in the opener as they lacked creativity but a 1-0 victory over Bosnia & H in the second game was respectable, before they lost 3-2 against Argentina in the final match despite putting in a battling performance.
Although Nigeria kept two clean sheets in their first two matches, it showed when they came up against better opposition that they are vulnerable at the back and I think France can eventually break them down.
The European side have lost just once in their last 14 fixtures and although I expect Nigeria to keep them out for the majority of the tie, they should push on and win in the second half.
I’m going for 3-1 and 2-0 wins.
Germany v Algeria (Monday, 9pm)
Group H runners-up Algeria join Nigeria as the only African sides left in the competition and they face Group G winners Germany on Monday night.
Despite comfortably beating Portugal 4-0 in their opening group match, Germany haven’t really followed up that performance with style, drawing 2-2 with Ghana before overcoming USA with a 1-0 win.
Forward, Thomas Muller has accounted for over half of his side’s goals and is currently joint-top scorer in the tournament with four goals.
Algeria, who will be playing Germany for the first ever time, surprised many pundits by beating Russia and South Korea to second place in their group.
The African outfit were unlucky not to come away with at least a point against Belgium in the opening game after they threw away a lead to lose to two goals conceded in the final 20 minutes.
However, they bounced back in emphatic style by defeating South Korea 4-2 before sealing their place in the last 16 with a 1-1 draw against Russia.
Algeria’s last five games have all seen both teams scoring, while four of Germany’s last five matches have all gone over 2.5 goals.
Joachim Low’s men beat England 4-1 at this stage four years ago and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw a similar scoreline here, so I’m going for Any Other Home win.
Argentina v Switzerland (Tuesday, 5pm)
The penultimate game on this edition of the World Cup Colossus features Group F winners Argentina up against Switzerland who finished second in Group E.
The South American side qualified for the last 16 with maximum points but they didn’t excite like many people predicted with all three victories coming by a one goal margin.
A 2-1 opening win over Bosnia was followed by a narrow 1-0 victory against Iran but that was only thanks to a last minute Lionel Messi strike.
Messi has easily been their best performer so far and is the competition’s joint-top scorer.
It’s in defence where Argentina have looked weak and that was highlighted in the 3-2 victory against Nigeria last time out.
Switzerland qualified a point behind France in Group E and similarly to Argentina – they look great going forward but their biggest worry is at the back.
Ottmar Hitzfeld saw his side come from a goal down to beat Ecuador in the opening fixture before they were easily defeated 5-2 by France.
Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri has been impressive so far gaining two man of the match awards including one for his display in the 3-0 win over Honduras which saw him net a hat-trick.
With an in-form Messi, Argentina are always a threat and I think they can advance with both teams scoring so I’m going for a 3-1 win.
Belgium v USA (Tuesday, 9pm)
The final game of the World Cup last 16 Colossus involves Group H winners Belgium and Group G runners-up USA.
Belgium qualified with maximum points but they haven’t looked impressive and have undoubtedly benefited from being drawn in a weak group.
Marc Wilmots’ side have won all three games by a single goal margin so far, conceding just once.
They have a strong back line and keeper but so far they’ve failed to score the goals that many people were expecting from the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku who were both rested for the final group match.
USA, meanwhile, finished level on points with Portugal but qualified due to their superior goal difference.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men have only lost one game in their last seven – that was their final group match against Germany, while the three losses they have suffered in their last 10 games have all come against European sides.
Belgium have won the last two meetings between the pair including the 4-2 friendly victory in May last year.
The Red Devils are currently on a winning run of five matches and I believe they can just overcome USA here but it should be a tight encounter.
I’m going for a 2-1 win
Good luck to everyone following.
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