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France, Germany look to advance at expense of African foes

Yesterday in one sentence: Mexico had its CONCACAF thunder stolen from it after 89 strong minutes, but Costa Rica held the confederation's banner proudly and is into the final eight.

What’s on tap: France vs. Nigeria, noon, ESPN; Germany vs. Algeria, 4 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: There have been clear cut themes so far in the last 16, with the first day featuring four South American countries, yesterday pitting CONCACAF teams against European sides, and today matching up the only two African nations remaining with European powers. It’s all very neat and tidy, and unfortunately for Nigeria and Algeria, very well could be on the pitch as well.

France cruised through Group E with seven goals in its first two matches before a relaxing draw against Ecuador, and in Nigeria, they’ll face a strong team -- but nothing to get the French concerned. Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is shouldering a huge offensive load Franck Ribery out of the tournament, and his three goals put him in contention for the Golden Boot.

Nigeria has been up for all of its challenges, and raised some eyebrows by putting two past Argentina in its final group game, but I’m not sure it has the firepower to match up with France.

Germany, as anyone who watched the U.S. will know, has the skill to simply toy with teams if it feels like doing so. It won comfortably without really breaking a sweat last Thursday, and while Algeria might be a better-rested opponent than the United States was, it won’t be more skilled. A German loss to Algeria here would represent one of the biggest upsets of the entire tournament.

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