Malaysia : FIFA World Cup 2018 Last 16 Predictions And Analysis - RTM Timing , Fixtures , Schedule and Matches ! - The Coverage

Malaysia : FIFA World Cup 2018 Last 16 Predictions And Analysis – RTM Timing , Fixtures , Schedule and Matches !

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)

June 30

France vs Argentina – 10pm – TV1 (delayed, 10.30pm) & Astro
Uruguay vs Portugal – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

France vs Argentina

Argentina sneaked into the round of 16 in dramatic style, and many believe they can string a winning run after defeating Nigeria. Lionel Messi and Co, though, will have a much sterner test than the one they faced against the African outfit. Jorge Sampaoli’s greatest challenge is to fix a porous defence, which was brutally exposed by Croatia.

France, meanwhile, have failed to hit the heights they were expected to. They sneaked past Australia and Peru while playing out a dire goalless draw with Denmark. Antoine Greizmann, who has been underwhelming, and midfield ace Paul Pogba, need to be at the heart of action. Teenager Kylian Mbappe may perhaps provide the inspiration that Didier Deschamps’s side have failed to produce.

This one is going to be close. France’s form is theoretically better but Argentina will be on a massive high after that victory over Nigeria and if Messi is starting to reach top gear that is problematic for the rest of the tournament.

If the Argentina players did have a say in team selection and tactics after their talks with coach Jorge Sampaoli, then one of the decisions they made was to go back to playing with a back four. I still don’t think they are very good defensively – but they are trying to keep things simple and as tight as possible, and then look for a bit of genius from Lionel Messi – who did exactly that against Nigeria.

While Argentina only just made it to the last 16, France got out of their group without any trouble whatsoever. Les Bleus have not played anywhere near to their potential yet, and the disjointed performance in their draw with Denmark was not helped by the changes made by boss Didier Deschamps.

I still think France look far better with Olivier Giroud up front and with Paul Pogba in a deeper role alongside N’Golo Kante, rather than two dedicated defensive midfielders. Sooner or later, I think we are going to see the France players put in a big performance.

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?

Portugal vs Uruguay

Portugal fans’ hearts might have sunk when Iranian forward Sardar Azmoun ran clear in the box with time running out in their last group match. Luckily for them, with the score at 1-1, Azmoun missed and Portugal were through with five points from three games, finishing second behind Spain due to inferior goal difference.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who now has four goals in the tournament, will be gunning for more but he has a formidable defence to play against. Uruguay have not conceded a goal and despite not getting out of second gear, they bagged nine points from their three games.

In Diego Godin, they have one of the best defenders in the world. The game has already been dubbed as a battle between Luis Suarez and Ronaldo.

Uruguay have started the World Cup well. Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez have been rocks at the back and the scary thing is that the attack is surely only going to get better.

This is going to be a brilliant battle between Uruguay’s warriors in defence and Portugal’s superstar. Ronaldo’s battles with the two Atletico Madrid defenders in La Liga are normally excellent to watch and this should be no different. We’re tipping the individual brilliance of Ronaldo.

This will be a busy evening for the referee, not least with Uruguay’s Atletico Madrid centre-halves Diego Godin and Jose Jimenez up against Portugal’s Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Portugal will not change the way they play, which is quite one-dimensional and not particularly inspiring.

Uruguay have not exactly set this tournament alight with their attacking play either, but they are more adventurous and have a few more ideas when they come forward.

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.

July 1

Spain vs Russia – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Croatia vs Denmark – 2am – TV1 & Astro

Spain vs Russia

Spain were pushed to the limit in the group stages and did not enjoy a single easy outing, contrary to what many had predicted before a ball was kicked. Spain, though, managed to pip Portugal to finish as group toppers with five points from three games. Although effective, Spain, under new coach Fernando Hierro, have been underwhelming.

Hosts Russia started the tournament with a bang, thumping five and three goals past Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively. It ended on a whimper for the Russians towards the end as Uruguay ran circles past them to top group A. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side have their task cut out against the 2010 champions.

Spain played well in the opener against Portugal but throughout this tournament they have looked vulnerable at the back. They go into this match with question marks over their goalkeeper and worries over the defence. There’s also the question over who should start up front.

The hosts opened the World Cup in style, scoring eight times in their first two matches against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However Russia were put to the sword by Uruguay and it looked as if their high pressing had drained them a little.

Russia have done very well to get this far, but I think Spain are a step up in class that will be too much for them.

The home support will help the hosts, and there are question marks over some of Spain’s defending at this tournament, but the Spanish players will have so much of the ball on Sunday that I don’t think it will be a great issue.

Croatia v Denmark

Denmark finished behind France in their group with five points from three games. In all games, they showed that they are a difficult side to break down. Christian Eriksen, despite not hitting the heights that he was expected to, influenced proceedings with a key assist and a stunning goal.

Croatia, meanwhile, are favourites in this tie. They have hardly put a foot wrong. Nigeria were blunted out, Argentina humbled, and Iceland were brought down to their knees. That too after Zlatko Dalic had made a host of changes for the last group game.

Croatia could make a pretty good case for being one of the teams of the tournament thus far. The comfortable win over Nigeria was followed up by destroying Argentina and then beating Iceland with a heavily rotated squad.

Denmark edged past Peru before playing out two draws with Australia and France. It feels as if the key will be the performance of Christian Eriksen.

I have been very impressed by Croatia, I cannot really see a weak link in their midfield, either centrally or out wide, and they have an attacking outlook right through their team.

Denmark, in contrast, are very ordinary. I am sure they will create some chances, but most of their build-up play is under the ‘hopeful’ category, unless they can get Christian Eriksen on the ball.

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.

July 2

Brazil vs Mexico – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Belgium vs Japan – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

Brazil v Mexico

The Mexicans endured an agonising afternoon during their final group match as they lost 0-3 to Sweden and had to wait to know Germany’s fate against South Korea to know if they had progressed. Despair turned into ecstasy for El Tri, as the defending champions limped out of the group stages following a tame 0-2 loss against South Korea.

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As for five-time winners Brazil, all eyes were on star forward Neymar’s fitness at the start of the tournament. The PSG forward has blown hot and cold but it was his theatrics that caught the attention of fans. The best part of Tite’s side is that they look like a team that will get better as the tournament progresses.

Brazil: They won two and drew one as they cruised into the last 16 with the minimal of fuss. The performances were hardly stellar but Tite and co will care little, as they have achieved their first objective.

Mexico: Started well with the win over Germany but faded quite badly and were handsomely beaten by Sweden in the last group game.

I don’t think Brazil enjoy playing against Mexico, who have a decent record against them.

Brazil have won four of their past six meetings but, since 1999, Mexico have won seven and draw three of their 15 matches.

So the Mexicans will not fear them the way some teams do – but they might have problems stopping them.

Brazil look like they are just starting to come to the boil. Neymar has not really got going yet but, when their attack clicks, the pace with which they come forward is frightening.

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.

Belgium vs Japan

Belgium, just like in 2014, won all their group games. Against England, Roberto Martinez earned a win despite making nine changes. His star men – skipper Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Kevin de Bruyne and striker Romelu Lukaku – have all been in red-hot form. The Belgians have been tipped as a dark horse by many to win the tournament.

Japan’s chances were written off much before the World Cup started. New coach Akira Nishino had eight weeks to prepare for the tournament. However, they defied expectations with a dramatic entry through fair-play points, a first-time occurrence in World Cup history. The Japanese are technically sound and can hurt any team on the counter-attack. Belgium do start as overwhelming favourites in this fixture.

Belgium: Roberto Martinez’s men beat England to secure their status as Group G winners, despite him having named a very weakened team. While England will have a seemingly easier quarter-final if they beat Colombia, Belgium have the easier last-16 clash.

Japan: Japan lost 1-0 in a dull game with Poland on Thursday but still became the only Asian side to qualify for the World Cup’s last 16 — and the first team ever to progress thanks to FIFA’s new disciplinary tie-breaker rule. They beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 in their opener before drawing 2-2 with Senegal.

Senegal were actually the team in Group H that I thought would give Belgium and England problems – but they did not make it into the last 16.

When Belgium have played their strongest side they have not struggled to create chances but, even then, they have not looked like the cohesive unit they will need to be to go far in this tournament.

Roberto Martinez’s side will win this tie, though, because I don’t think Japan will be able to cope with their attacking power. 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.

July 3

Sweden vs Switzerland – 10pm – Astro
England vs Columbia – 2am – TV1 & Astro

Sweden vs Switzerland

Switzerland got five points from three games and their draw against Brazil was their most shock result. They also earned the first comeback win of the tournament, which was against Serbia. It made noise for all the wrong reasons, though. The Swiss have proved that they are a plucky outfit.

Sweden, meanwhile, topped a group that featured Germany, and sealed qualification on an extraordinary last day with a thumping 3-0 win over Mexico. The Swedes’ combative and physical style can hurt opponents.

Sweden: The Blue-Yellow put their gut-wrenching, last-minute defeat at the hands of Germany in the second round of games firmly behind them to down Mexico 3-0 and top the group.

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Switzerland: The A-Team won the game that mattered, their second fixture against Serbia, to progress second in the group behind Brazil.

Switzerland have been playing well and got out of Group E without too much fuss.

It is very obvious what Sweden do, and they definitely play to their strengths without having any really talented strikers.

From what I have seen of the Swiss, they just have a little bit more about them, which is why I am backing them to get to the quarter-finals.

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.

England vs Columbia

A team’s chances take a major hit after losing their first game. Colombia were defeated in their first group game against Japan, but made a strong comeback, defeating Poland and Senegal to top their group. James Rodriguez’s fitness remains a worry after being substituted early against Aliou Cisse’s side. On their day, Colombia are one of the most dangerous teams.

England, meanwhile, surprised a few when they scored eight goals in their first two games, against Tunisia and Panama. A loss to Belgium may have not dampened their spirits, as they managed to avoid being in the star-studded top half of the draw. But Gareth Southgate and Co still have a task on their hands.

Colombia: Their 2-1 defeat to Japan in their opening game was largely conditioned by a red card and penalty which left them 1-0 behind and down to 10 men after five minutes. In the second game, they swept aside Poland 3-0 with one of the best performances by any team in Russia. Then, against Senegal, they struggled, admittedly against very strong and well-organised opponents before winning it 1-0.

England: Gareth Southgate made a big gamble by resting eight players to face Belgium and not bringing on Harry Kane. If England get through this tough contest they will, in theory, have an easier quarter-final; but if they don’t, it will backfire badly on the boss. Colombia represent very difficult opponents for England after they lost out to Roberto Martinez’s men.

I don’t buy the theory that England are better off because they lost to Belgium in their final game in Group G.

Forget about them being in what people consider to be the easier half of the draw, because keeping on winning is the best thing you can do at a World Cup – you do not want to risk stopping the momentum you have built up.

So, we will see what effect making so many changes has on England, but I actually think they will be fine against Colombia.

They have some good players, but I don’t think they will be able to cope with England’s high-pressing game.

Can Southgate’s team switch back on? Only two outfield players from the side that started against Belgium are likely to start this last-16 game. Colombia need James Rodriguez to be fit but they are hitting form.

Round of 16

June 30

France vs Argentina – 10pm – TV1 (delayed, 10.30pm) & Astro
Uruguay vs Portugal – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

July 1

Spain vs Russia – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Croatia vs Denmark – 2am – TV1 & Astro

July 2

Brazil vs Mexico – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Belgium vs Japan – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

July 3

Sweden vs Switzerland – 10pm – Astro
England vs Columbia – 2am – TV1 & Astro

Quarter finals

July 6

Winner Match 49 vs Winner Match 50 – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Winner Match 53 vs Winner Match 54 – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

July 7

Winner Match 55 vs Winner Match 56 – 10pm – TV2 & Astro
Winner Match 51 vs Winner Match 52 – 2am – TV1 & Astro

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