FIFA Update: Knockout Stage/Round of 16

So the World Cup has made it to the knockout stage, where it gets even more exciting than what we've already seen. We've had shockers (Italy out), outstanding games (USA vs. Slovenia/Algeria), and absolute snooze fests (Brazil/Portugal) combined with the typical pathetic performance (France). Here is a preview of what is to come (sorry, I know some teams better than others, so some previews might be extremely long/short):

June 26th games:

USA vs. Ghana:
After making their run to the Round of 16 by giving almost everyone in the US a massive heart attack several times over, the US will try to get revenge for their defeat to Ghana in Germany in 2006. Ghana is a strong team that held its own against Germany, and also defeated Serbia. The USA needs to actually get something in the net early and not get screwed by the refs in the process. Look for ratings records to be broken on ABC this weekend. Prediction: USA wins 2-1.

Uruguay vs South Korea:
Two words: Diego Forlan. If he's on, Uruguay should move on without too much trouble. If he's off, they are in trouble. South Korea is no pushover, but I still think that Uruguay will come out on top. If you are a US fan, root like crazy for the Koreans, as Forlan would run circles around US defenders. Prediction: Uruguay wins 1-0.

June 27th games:

Argentina vs. Mexico:
Will Maradona finally jump onto a building celebrating something? Seriously, this guy is a ton of fun to watch as a manager. The fact that he's shorter than everyone else on the pitch definitely helps. Anyways, will this be the game that Messi finally scores? Will Higuain continue his goal scoring touch? This will be a fun game to watch no matter what. All the Argentinians need to do is prove that they are not the South American versions of Spain and not choke. Prediction: Argentina wins 2-1.

Germany vs. England
Game to watch #1
First and foremost, Bastian Schweinsteiger is doubtful for this match because of an injury, which is a major blow to Germany's midfield. Anyways, England's play overall has been extremely suspect, and they probably should not have advanced. Germany is the less experienced of the two sides, but England still have to get out of their slump. Rooney got better later in the Slovenia game, but still has yet to score. Note that Germany and England absolutely hate each other (England especially), so this is always a good rivalry. Note to people who hate the English, mention any PK to an English fan to watch them suffer a seizure. Prediction: Germany wins 2-1.

June 28th games:

Netherlands vs. Slovakia:
The Dutch also have a tendency to choke on this stage, but have not shown any signs of slowing down at the moment. With Robben back in the lineup, they should be even more lethal and should move on to face off against Brazil in an epic showdown. Slovakia have had an amazing run, including stunning Italy, but likely will be no match for the Dutch firepower. Prediction: Netherlands wins 2-0

Brazil vs. Chile
It's Brazil and the knockout stage, surprise surprise. Brazil handled the Group of Death well and made it to a game that they should (and probably will) win. Chile made it through by knocking of Switzerland and Honduras, and playing Spain reasonably well. The Samba Kings will most likely revert to old form and just have fun with Chile by the end of it. Prediction: Brazil wins 3-1

June 29th games:

Spain vs. Portugal:
Game to watch #2
No matter the outcome, you can expect one to declare war on the other by the time this match is complete. Spain feature arguably the most potent and beautiful style of play by any team in the tournament. Portugal has the second best player in the tournament in Ronaldo, and he could probably be the best if he didn't play like an Italian and flop so much. This match also features two teams that tend to choke during the World Cup, namely Spain. No matter what, this match will be a beauty to watch and could potentially be the most entertaining match of either the second round or the entire knockout stage. Prediction: Portugal wins 2-1 in a stunner

Paraguay vs. Japan
Japan might be the most surprising addition to the knockout stage, and if they aren't then it is Slovakia. Japan knocked off Denmark to move ahead, while Paraguay took care of business against New Zealand (i.e. draw and let Slovakia stun Italy). Japan has surprised many people, but might have finally run out of gas against a Paraguay side that has not shown many kinks (one howler against Italy comes to mind...). Prediction: Paraguay wins 1-0.

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