The first few rounds of sparring are over, and the World Cup knockout stages are upon us when the level of competition steps up a notch.
There is no open draw in the World Cup, so each nation can plot their route from the group stages all the way to the final in Moscow.
The eight last-16 ties will be played from from Friday 30 June to Tuesday 3 July. On each day of football, one match will kick-off at 3pm UK time and one match at 7pm.
Teams that have reached the last 16
- Uruguay (winners of Group A)
- Russia (runners-up in Group A)
- Spain (winners of Group B)
- Portugal (runners-up in Group B)
- France (winners of Group C)
- Denmark (runners-up in Group C)
- Croatia (winners of Group D)
- Argentina (runners-up in Group D)
- Brazil (winners in Group E)
- Switzerland (runners-up in Group E)
- Sweden (winners in Group F)
- Mexico (runners-up in Group F)
- Belgium (winners in Group G)
- England (runners-up in Group G)
- Colombia (winners in Group H)
- Japan (runners-up in Group H)
France vs Argentina – Saturday June 30 – 3pm kick-off
Deschamps’ team just have not fired yet, rather they seem to have sleep-walked to the second round. Messi and Argentina have already had their moment of brinkmanship but has all energy been expended?
Prediction: France 3 Argentina 1
Uruguay vs Portugal – Saturday June 30 – 7pm kick-off
Uruguay v Portugal — the greatest potential for snarling, cynicism and a willingness to do absolutely anything to win, plus Ronaldo’s non-stop emoting. Suarez v Pepe? A Slytherin of a World Cup clash and eagerly anticipated.
Prediction: Uruguay 2 Portugal 1 (AET)
Russia vs Spain – Sunday July 1 – 3pm kick-off
Hierro’s team have stuttered through the first round, making heavy work of a straightforward group. This one could be the shock. The Russians at the Luzhniki without the great expectation and full of running
Prediction: Russia 0 Spain 1
Croatia vs Denmark – Sunday July 1 – 7pm kick-off
The Croatians have controlled games beautifully, especially against the teams that have dared to attack. Don’t expect Denmark to do anything but lock down and try to counter. Could be heavy going.
Prediction: Croatia 1 Denmark 0 (AET)
Brazil vs Mexico – Monday July 2 – 3pm kick-off
Possession plays counter-attack. Mexico’s bubble was burst by Sweden who controlled them in their last group game. Brazil will have to be wary of the quick transitions, and that deep Mexican longing to finally make the last eight.
Prediction: Brazil 2 Mexico 0
Sweden vs Switzerland – Tuesday July 3 – 3pm kick-off
Can the Swiss raise their game one more time? Sweden have been magnificent, with a style that suits them and a strong bond. They do not look the type of team to panic if things go against them.
Prediction: Sweden 2 Switzerland 1 (AET)
Belgium vs Japan
Martinez’s big guns come back for a game in which they will be heavy favourites. Twenty years on from their first World Cup, Japan have improved immeasurably but they came very close to missing out.
Prediction: Belgium 2 Japan 0
Colombia vs England
Can Southgate’s team switch back on? Only two outfielders of the side that started against Belgium likely to start this second round. Colombia need James Rodriguez to be fit but they are hitting form.
Prediction: Colombia 0 England 1 (AET)