Netherlands v Mexico
Round of 16
Kick off: 5pm
A spot in the semi-finals is a distinct possibility for the winner of this game because it will secure a quarter-final slot against either Costa Rica or Greece – who despite their exploits at Brazil 2014 so far remain among the least fancied teams.
This game is yet another mouth-watering prospect. The Mexicans have improved massively on their pre-tournament frorm – playing with confidence and guile. And even goal-shy Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez has rediscovered his shooting boots.
But a true measure of their big-game temperament is in the manner in which they contained Brazil in the pressure cooker environment of the Fortaleza. They also have arguably the best ‘keeper of the tournament in the guise of Guillermo Ochoa.
Holland sent shockwaves through the tournament and laid down a marker with the taking-down of holders Spain – and put in another strong performance against Chile.
This will be a real tactical battle between two sides who have set out their stall and carried out their game plans to perfection. Both coaches deserve credit for doing their homework and adjusting tactics to cater to the demands of the opposition.
It could well come down to the individuals, but the key could lie in whether one team can gain a tactical edge. If one is forced to come out of their shell, it could open things up and both sides are potent if given space to exploit. Holland will probably have enough in the armoury just to come out on top, but this one may be close and may go to added time.
Costa Rica v Greece
Round of 16
Kick off: 9pm
Both of the teams have done better than most pundits expected and this game represents a great chance to make a real impact on Brazil 2014.
The two sides have succeeded playing organised and disciplined defensive football, relying on their counter attacking to hurt teams. It will be interesting to see which team will take the initiative here and that made lead to something of a stalemate potentially.
Neither side is likely to change their style too much. The conditions may well favour the Costa Ricans who were able to rotate in the game against England, while Greece certainly have the greater experience.
The longer than any stalemate continues, the more the pendulum swings in Greece’s favour, who have become specialist in grinding out results. Expect a low scoring game because Greece do play a very tight defensive game, which may blunt Costa Rica’s cutting edge.