We’ve started with 32 and we’re down to 16 teams in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It’s time for the knockout stage and there are no ties, only winners and those who will go home earlier than they wanted. This years knockout stage will start on Saturday and will continue through the 3rd of July. The teams that have impressed thus far are Uruguay, Croatia, and Belgium as all three went 3-0 in group play.
Belgium took on England today and only scored one goal but that proved to be plenty as they took home the 1-0 result. Adnan Januzaj scored the matches only goal in the 51′ from inside the box. With the win, Belgium will take on Japan on July 2nd and don’t be surprised to see these two match up again in the final.
Knockout Stage Surprises
The biggest surprise is the how well Russia have played. Their one loss came to group A winner Uruguay when they lost 3-0 and also had a red card issued to Igor Smolnikov in the 36′ and Russia also had an own goal that didn’t help the cause. Due to Smolnikov’s red card, he will not be eligible vs. Spain in the knockout stage.
Another surprise is, surprisingly enough, England. They have played a rather remarkable World Cup thus far until their loss to Belgium today. England will play Colombia in the round of 16 and look to continue their offensive onslaught. They’ve scored the 2nd most goals in the tournament with 8 and even with the loss to Belgium, they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Game to Watch
There are SO MANY great games to watch here so it’s tough to limit it to just one. However; THE game to watch is Brazil vs. Mexico. Brazil won group E and Mexico took 2nd in group F behind Sweden. Mexico actually had a -1 goal differential in group stage but did pull off an opening round win vs. Germany.
Brazil went undefeated in group play with 2 wins and a draw with just 5 goals but only allowing 1. Mexico made a run during the last World Cup but lost to the Netherlands on a still questionable call in the box that favored the Dutch. Look for Mexico to come out hot early and see if Brazil can stiff them.
Check out the bracket here.
–Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)