With the group stage of the FIFA World Cup 2018 over, the margin for error is slim and the equation is simple, you win you advance and if you lose you are out.
During my secondary school days, I must admit, I wasn’t the brightest spark when it came to the topic referring to the past but strangely enough I do believe that lightning can strike the same place twice.
Is it a mind thing or does history always seem to repeat itself? It’s like déjà vu. Yesterday the football world was shocked as South Korea staged the biggest upset so far for the competition when they eliminated defending champions Germany with a 2-0 victory.
Germany became the fourth defending champions to exit at the group stage of the world cup in the last five tournaments after France 2002, Italy 2010 and Spain 2014. They conceded twice in stoppage time as they threw bodies forward in search of the goal, which could have secured their spot.
It is only the second time that the Germans have failed to make the Round of 16 having last done so back in 1938.
Questions will definitely be asked of coach Joachim Low’s overall team selection having left at home Manchester City’s forward Leroy Sane who had an excellent season with the premier league champions.
Another disappointment for German fans was the omission of Mario Gotze who stole the headlines four years ago scoring the winner for Germany in extra time of the final versus Argentina.
With that being said the road to the knockout round for the 2014 runners-up was rocky and ugly but they won’t care.
Lionel Messi finally arrived on the score sheet with a beautifully controlled finish in a do or die encounter for both teams against Nigeria.
After Messi’s first-half strike Nigeria were awarded a penalty which Victor Moses easily converted, sparking a number of worried faces around the stadium. However, Manchester United’s defender Marcus Rojo saved the day when he volleyed home from inside the box to give Argentina the 2-1 victory to set a date with France on Saturday. It’s arguably the most attractive game of the next round.
The Frenchmen are in decent form and still unbeaten, but every team is due an off game. However, their South American opponents may have very well got over the early butterflies and gained confidence.
Following some early upsets in the tournament and besides Germany missing out there aren’t really any surprises on paper with the teams that have qualified for the knockout ties.
At this stage of the competition, any game could be the last on the World Cup stage for one of the greatest players of the modern game in Cristiano Ronaldo whose Portugal will have a tough assignment against Uruguay with the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani posing a serious threat in front of goal.
Despite suffering a 3-0 defeat from Uruguay in their final group stage match, the hosts Russia will be optimistic coming up against 2010 winners Spain who have found some rhythm after a shaky start like the majority of the competition favourites.
Group D winners Croatia are up against Denmark who were second in Group C, considering their stunning form and impressive style of play it will be hard to bet against them but Denmark cannot be underestimated.
Brazil who are slowly catching form will take on Mexico on Monday in what should be an interesting contest between a favourite and an underdog.
Belgium will play Japan, Sweden will battle with Switzerland and Colombia will have a match-up against England all in an effort to enter the quarterfinals.
It is the time of the competition where it comes down to who wants it more and converting chances will play a big role in determining who will lift the trophy on July 15.
Predictions: France 1-2 Argentina; Uruguay 2-3 Portugal; Spain 3-0 Russia; Croatia 1-0 Denmark; Brazil 3-1 Mexico; Belgium 4-0 Japan; Sweden 0-2 Switzerland; Colombia 0-0 England (4-3 England advance on penalties)
Anmar Goodridge-Boyce is a 19- year-old sports journalist, IOC Young Reporter, football commentator with an associate degree in Mass Communication.