Yesterday in one sentence: The nation of Brazil let out the world’s largest sigh of relief after a win in penalties against Chile, and Uruguay proved (wait for it) toothless in attack when held up against Colombia and its star forward James Rodriguez.
What’s on tap: Netherlands vs. Mexico, 12 p.m., ABC; Costa Rica vs. Greece, 4 p.m., ABC.
What you’ll see: If Saturday was decidedly South American, here’s to a Sunday that is decidedly CONCACAF-y. Along with the United States, a record three teams from the North and Central American federation advanced to the knockout rounds, with Mexico and Costa Rica fighting to move on today.
Mexico has a tough task ahead of it with the Netherlands in Fortaleza, a team that led the group stage with 10 goals. A strong young defense has provided the Dutch midfield and attackers with the cover to allow them to go forward in waves, with Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben providing all the offense any team could ask for.
The Mexican team was a picture of dysfunction through qualifying, with manager changes and poor performances almost keeping it out of the tournament entirely. But in Brazil under wonderfully entertaining manager Miguel Herrera, the team has been organized at the back and efficient in attack. Mexico has conceded only one goal and threatened more than its four goals in three matches would intimate, but it will need a flawless performance to knock off the Dutch — though I’d pay good money to see Herrera’s celebration after that win.
Costa Rica has a much better chance of carrying the CONCACAF flag into the quarterfinals against a Greek side that might be the most undeserving of any of the 16 left. Greece scored just two goals in the group stage, with one a dubious late penalty that sent it through against the Ivory Coast. Costa Rica went unbeaten in a group that included former world champions Uruguay, Italy, and England and is a tough draw for any team. If anyone is going to bring the CONCACAF thunder today, expect it to be Costa Rica in a comfortable win.