It was an incredible Round of 16 that saw for the first time, all eight group winners advance. What was most fascinating is that in seven of those eight matches, the underdog looked poised to bite the favorite in the tail, only to see the group winner take the match in the end. Alas, our brave men of the USA fell victim as well. But heads high USMNT fans, it was a hell of a ride.
With only eight teams left, this will be the last Power Rankings of the Cup. It’s also the least confident I’ve been. Two of the four Quarters are a complete toss up, leaving the left side of the brackets as anyone’s game. That’s bound to lead to plenty of intrigue and some very entertaining soccer.
1. Colombia (6) Wait seriously…? Why not? Of the eight Round of 16 matches, it was only Colombia’s defeat of Uruguay that looked decisive. James Rodriguez is a bonafide star. But they’ve got a tough road ahead – and this is far from a confident pick.
2. Argentina (1) It took them 118 minutes to do it, but Argentina was eventually able to dispatch a very difficult Switzerland. Was it a confident victory? Far from it. But this Argentina team has the look of winners, and nothing would make them happier than to do it on Brazilian soil.
3. France (3) While France looked a bit lost for the better part of their match against a resurgent but still inferior Nigeria, they eventually figured it out and took the victory in one of only three matches to finish in 90 minutes. Their next opponents, Germany, will prove a much tougher test.
4. Brazil (2) Brazil can most certainly beat Colombia. They can still win the entire World Cup. But their team is yet to start clicking and they were pretty lucky to take out the ridiculously talented Chile. It’s far from over for Brazil but it’s getting more and more difficult to call them the favorites.
5. Holland (5) With the easiest of the Quarter Finals match ups, the Dutch should be able to take it to the Costa Ricans without much trouble. And if we learned anything from their match with Mexico, it’s that Louis van Gaal is one hell of a tactician (good news for Man Utd fans). A Semi Final showdown with Argentina looks pretty likely on the right side of the bracket.
6. Germany (4) The German defeat of Algeria was again a narrow victory over a very good team (and how I would have loved to see a France vs Algeria Qtr). But don’t count the Germans out. The talent and organization are both there. However a free scoring France will likely have the key to unlock this pretty shaky looking German defense.
7. Belgium (7) No need to dwell on the Belgian defeat of the USA too much, but they should probably look to start Lukaku, the one player on the pitch that seemed to have the extra spark necessary to take ahold of a big game. Unfortunately for the Belgians, they’re headed up against Argentina.
8. Costa Rica (10) They have to fit in somewhere right? Yes they’ve had a great run, but even if they manage to somehow pull off an upset over Holland, Costa Rica will still be the bottom team on my Power Rankings come the next go around (note: this is likely the last go around).