Full Predictions for World Cup Round of 16: Who Will Reach the Quarters?

After two weeks filled with thrilling contests, upsets and contrasting emotions, the stage is now set for the World Cup knockout phase, starting with the Round of 16. Despite some unexpected results, the majority of the big boys managed to secure qualification, with Germany and Belgium being the exceptions after bowing out from the group stage.

Even though the results have been unpredictable, we’ll try to figure out those will reach the quarter finals (and probably embarrass ourselves in the process) in our predictions for the Round of 16 fixtures.

Netherlands vs USA

The trending theme of the Round of 16 is the “big favorite versus the underdog”, and this one is no exception. After all, we’re talking about the best national team never to win a World Cup against a side that has a humble record in the competition.

Nonetheless, the United States are no pushovers. This is the only runner-up in the tournament that is yet to taste defeat. Even when they held England to a stalemate, one could argue that they were the slightly-better side.

Yet, the savvy Dutch have just enough skills and expertise both on the pitch and in the dugout to scrap past their opponents, even if they haven’t exactly took the world by storm throughout the group stage.

Prediction: Tough win for Netherlands

Argentina vs Australia

If you enjoy a classic “David vs Goliath” storyline, look no further, as this is exactly what you’re getting in this one.

Ironically, this “Goliath” comes in the form of a rather short individual accompanied by a host of top class teammates. And although “David” won’t lack the physical strength in this version, he’ll be facing incredible odds all the same.

Slowly but surely, Lionel Scaloni is finding his ideal lineup, and with Lionel Messi in form, it’s difficult to imagine Australia finding a way past this stage.

Nonetheless, the Aussies have showcased great determination since the beginning of the World Cup and collected two wins thus far. So never say never.

Prediction: Argentina wins by a two or three goal margin

France vs Poland

While a section of pundits chastised Didier Deschamps and his men for their poor showing against Tunisia, the manager had absolutely made the right call by resting his starters for the final group match which offered the last chance for his stars to catch their breath before the arduous knockout stage journey.

On the other hand, Poland hardly looked convincing during the group stage, and their shambolic performance against Argentina was one of worst displays at the tournament, even if the result granted them passage towards the second stage.

The Poles have been heavily relying on the heroics of Wojciech Szczesny in goal and the occasional flashes of brilliance from Robert Lewandowski to unblock defenses. But will it be enough against Kylian Mbappé and company?


Prediction: France to eventually break the Polish resistance

England vs Senegal

After topping a relatively modest group, England booked themselves a date with Senegal who have been impressive in all of their outings – even in their opening defeat at the hands of Netherlands.

But despite their gutsy displays, the Africans lack some quality in the final third in the absence of the irreplaceable Sadio Mané, and the gulf in terms of talent should be enough for the Three Lions prevail in this one, although it won’t be an easy ride.

Prediction: England advance despite occasional scares

Japan vs Croatia

What an incredible tournament it has been for the Japanese thus far! The Samurai Blue have already registered not one, but TWO come-from-behind victories against traditional giants and former World Cup winners, forcing Spain to settle for the runner-up spot (although they didn’t seem to mind it) and throwing Germany out of the competition in the process.

On the contrary, Croatia’s journey has been more efficient than spectacular, earning a solitary win over the group’s whipping boys Canada and settling for draws against Morocco and Belgium.

But now that we’ve reached the serious part of the tournament, this is where Croatia’s massive experience – both as a team and individuals – will come extremely handy.

This one will arguably be the closest contest of the Round of 16, but we’re leaning towards Luka Modric and company.

Prediction: Croatia to snatch a late win – potentially in extra-time

Brazil vs South Korea

On paper, this is arguably the most lopsided affair. Despite losing their final group stage match to Cameroon, Tite will have fresh legs at his disposal after resting the majority of his first starters. He’s also hoping to have Neymar and Danilo back at his disposal.

On the contrary, South Korea kept pushing until the final minutes in their valiant quest to secure an unlikely qualification at the expense of Ghana and Uruguay, and eventually snatched the winner against the less-than-enthusiastic Portuguese.

Now surely the Asians will put up another courageous display against the perennial World Cup favorites, but they have a tall order in front of them.

Prediction: Brazil to reassure their fans with a convincing win

Morocco vs Spain

Poor Morocco. They finished on top of a tough group – and deservedly so – and their reward is a date with one of the biggest favorites in the tournament.

But then again every World Cup edition needs a Dark Horse, and the North Africans have all the makings to cement themselves as the official party-crashers at Doha, with a squad that features a host of stars who ply their trade at some of the top European clubs, including Achraf Hakimi, Noussair Mazraoui and Hakim Ziyech.

But despite their recent defeat against Japan (which may or may not have been on purpose), betting against Spain remains ill-advised at this stage, as Luis Enrique’s squad boasts top players in each position, and if they can work together like a well-oiled machine, they can drain the energy out their southern neighbors who would be left to desperately chase the ball.

Prediction: Spain to get their way in the second half

Portugal vs Switzerland

The final Round of 16 contest will be an interesting stylistic matchup between two European nations who adopt balanced approaches.

Pound-for-Pound, Portugal have the advantage in every department, but we all remember how Switzerland stunned France at this stage in the last European Championship.

The Iberians should prevail after all, but this one could go to the wire.

Prediction: Portugal win on shootouts

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