As 10 national teams from Europe, five from Latin America and one from Asia get ready for the knock-out round for the World Cup from Saturday (June 30), millions of fans expect the big ones to stop laboured displays and fire on all cylinders to stay in the game.
Football lovers are yet to recover from the shock exit of reigning champions Germany whose presence would have added lot of excitement in the matches ahead.
Germany’s exit is a wake-up call to Argentina, Brazil, Spain, England and France. These big teams are not invincible and there is no room for complacency. They must play like former World Cup champions to enter the quarter finals.
Despite a poor start, Brazil is doing well. Their players Philippe Coutinho and Neymar can make rivals quake in their boots. Spain and Belgium are capable of upsetting Brazil’s applecart.
As for Portugal and England, they cannot expect Cristiano Ronaldo or Harry Kane to score all the time.
Dark horses Uruguay, Croatia and Colombia have the potential to reach the quarter finals and even the semis. Saturday’s late match between Uruguay and Portugal is going to be a thriller. Croatia’s Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic can give nightmares to their rivals. They will be facing Denmark on Sunday. For Colombia, the knock-out match with England on July 3 will be crucial.
The new video refereeing technology VAR used for the first time in World Cup was meant to make decisions at match-changing situations accurate and non-controversial.
While the close views from more than 30 cameras positioned at different angles can give the VAR team a clear picture of what is happening in the pitch, fans and pundits are still questioning their decisions.