The knockout stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching with some interesting match-ups involving the 16 qualifying teams. All these teams now know they cannot afford to have a bad day at the office and one mistake can be enough to send them crashing out. With stakes so high and margin of error so minimal, the players would undoubtedly be under stress. But, this is where the champions separate out from the rest of the pack. Let us look at the eight matches of 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 schedule time table and pick the teams who have the edge over their opponent in making it to the quarter-final. These FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 predictions will see which team holds an advantage in the eight pre-quarters fixtures (France vs Argentina, Uruguay vs Portugal, Spain vs Russia, Croatia vs Denmark, Brazil vs Mexico, Belgium vs Japan, Sweden vs Switzerland, and Colombia vs England). 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 Schedule in IST, Free PDF Download: Fixtures of Knockout Matches & Time Table in Indian Time With Venue Details of Football WC in Russia.
France vs Argentina
Two very strong teams in terms of personality and individual talent but contrasting fortunes in making it to the round of 16. While France with nothing exceptional about them got their job done in terms of getting the points on board, Argentina were terrible for most parts. They needed Marcos Rojo’s inspiring moment to drag them over the line.
In terms of management too, Jorge Sampaoli has several question marks over his way of handling Argentina while Didier Deschamps is certainly way more composed than his Argentine counterpart while at the helm of affairs at Les Bleus. In terms of confidence, France holds the upper hand, but then again, they will have to show it in their game on the given day. Advantage France.
Uruguay vs Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo’s missed penalty against Iran and his team’s inability to hold out for a win means, Portugal face Uruguay where for large parts of the game it looked like hosts Russia would be their possible opponents. Uruguay have been resolute in defense and have possibly the best-attacking duo in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Portugal are doing the best they can from a pretty average squad they have assembled for the cup, barring the great Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe. They will be tested in every department, but off late we have seen Portugal starting to grind out results even when they are down and out. They will need another such performance if they are to go through. Advantage Uruguay.
Spain vs Russia
2010 champions Spain know they were lucky to hold on to the top spot in Group B and have looked shaky in defense throughout the group phase. David De Gea’s form is a big worry in goal, and he must step up if he is to continue as Spain’ no 1. They are probably the best side in terms of technique but often tend to overdo things in midfield which they will have to wary of.
Hosts Russia were good against weaker teams but exposed badly against Uruguay in the last match of the group phase. They will look to use the home support as the 12th man in the game as there is not much hope for the home side. Advantage Spain.
Croatia vs Denmark
Croatia finally did justice to the quality of squad they possess winning all of their group games with ease. Luka Modric’s commanding presence in midfield along with another maestro Ivan Rakitic is proving to be a winning formula. Their coach Zlatko Dalic has been able to get the best out of all the players which was evident when his B side defeated Iceland in their last encounter.
Denmark have had to make a lot of effort in terms of getting to the round of 16, and the credit must go to the players who have grinded out results despite things not going their way. This was particularly evident against Peru in their opening game, when despite not having much possession; they hit them on the counter to snatch three points. They will have to be less dependent on Christian Eriksen though. Advantage Croatia.
Brazil vs Mexico
Mexico can’t thank South Korea enough in making their progress possible by knocking out defending champions Germany. But there is no moment to rejoice as they are up against the mighty Brazil and go into the game on the back of a 3-0 defeat to Sweden, where they were completely carved out.
Brazil, managed by Tite, have been going from strength to strength with each passing game. Pacey wingers, confident defenders and plenty of quality in the final third are some of the attributes of this team. Neymar though can do much better than what he has delivered as his campaign has been reduced to theatrical dives and horrendous finishing. Advantage Brazil.
Belgium vs Japan
Japan became the first team to advance because of FIFA’s fair play system after levelling on points and other parameters with Senegal. But they know they do not stand much of a chance against a Belgium side, with top performers in every area of the park. Japan often tend to play risk-free football which will be need of the hour when they take on the Red Devils.
Romelu Lukaku should be fit enough for the Japan game, and his return from injury can unleash the fury on the Japanese defense. Several other stars like Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, who were rested for the England game, will return to the mix to help Belgium make it to the quarters. Expect Belgium to absolutely batter Japan. Advantage Belgium.
Sweden vs Switzerland
Probably the most evenly poised of all the encounters on display in the round of 16, the two sides are well capable of knocking each other out. The thing going for Sweden is that they have knocked out sides like Germany and Italy on their way to this match, so in terms of confidence, it will be sky high. Their defense is one of the most stable ones of all the 16 teams remaining in the cup.
Switzerland have more quality vis-a-vis players and are masters of getting things done ugly. They will be physical in their approach against the Swedes and try and disrupt their game and be hoping to nick it on the break or so. Advantage Sweden.
Colombia vs England
The Three Lions gambled to play a second-string side against Belgium in their final group game in order to avoid playing Brazil in the quarters in what was clearly a long term vision, because they face Colombia next who are very much capable of knocking them out. Colombia have regrouped and won back to back game after a shock defeat to Japan. They will be counting on talisman James Rodriguez to be fit again after he left the pitch in the first half against Senegal.
England have improved quite a bit with their young guns performing well against minnows, but the real challenge starts now. The likes of Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard know they will need to bring all their qualities on board and take England to their first World Cup quarter-final since 2006. Advantage Colombia.
The teams are now all accustomed to Russian conditions, and it’s time to deliver for their nations. The players know well, they can guarantee legendary status for themselves back home, if they work out of their depth and give it all during the matches. Let the games begin!