With the knockout stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off Saturday in Brazil, TSN.ca's panel of experts is back with a full set of predictions for the Round of 16 all the way through the Final.
Read on to find out which team has the legs to outlast the cream of the crop and emerge as 2014 World Champions.
The panel consists of TSN Soccer Analysts Jason deVos, Luke Wileman and Kristian Jack, TSN Radio 1050 Toronto host Gareth Wheeler, TSN Radio 690 Montreal's Noel Butler and TSN.ca soccer editors Shane McNeil and Ken Rodney.
Round of 16:
Brazil def. Chile
Though a unanimous choice from TSN's panel, Brazil will be in tough against a Chilean side that dislodged the defending champions from Spain. If handed a lesser opponent, Chile might be a dark horse advancement pick, but drawing the hosts was always the likely peril for whomever finished second in Group B.
Brazil was a unanimous choice
Colombia def. Uruguay
A very conspicuous absence threatens to overshadow what would otherwise be an exciting clash between two of South America's less-heralded giants. In the end, though, Luis Suarez' suspension almost levels the playing field as Colombia has been and will be without its biggest threat – Radamel Falcao – for the entire tournament. Despite his absence, Colombia has been dominant in Brazil, piling up more goals than all but one team in the group stage. If James Rodriguez keeps at his group-stage pace and Colombia goes deep, he would be a legitimate Golden Ball contender.
Picks: Butler, deVos, Jack, McNeil, Rodney, Wheeler, Wileman – Colombia; Jack - Uruguay
France def. Nigeria
Few were surprised when France handled Honduras to open the tournament, but Les Bleus made a definitive statement, pouring in five goals (and what likely should have been six but for a quick final whistle) against the top-ranked Swiss side. Karim Benzema has been a force alongside Olivier Giroud and if he continues his Golden Boot pursuit, France should certainly be on its way to the quarters at least.
France was a unanimous choice
Germany def. Algeria
Algeria has caught a lot of teams napping, but will they be able to stun the perennial powers from Germany? Probably not as Thomas Muller scores seemingly at will and Miroslav Klose sits one fortuitous substitution away from the record book. The Greens have made history already in Brazil with their first ever advancement. The miracle run ends here, though.
Germany was a unanimous choice
Netherlands def. Mexico
Though an overwhelming favourite, the Dutch present themselves as the first pick on to create a rift between our analysts. The reason? Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa. The man has been simply ridiculous and has already proven that he's single-handedly capable of withstanding an elite offence, having held Brazil scoreless. Gareth Wheeler and Kristian Jack are believers, but the rest of the panel is seeing Oranje for the quarters.
Picks: Butler, deVos, McNeil, Rodney, Wileman – Netherlands; Jack, Wheeler - Mexico
Costa Rica def. Greece
It comes as no surprise that a match-up between two unlikely entrants provides the most divisive result in terms of predictions. That's no slight to either team or their achievements, but on this same panel no one predicted Costa Rica to get through prior to the start of the tournament and only one had Greece advancing (Shane McNeil, in an extremely lucky guess). Consensus seems to be that the Ticos – having already dispatched England and Italy – will be able to handle Greece, but it's not a sitter by any means.
Picks: deVos, McNeil, Rodney, Wheeler – Costa Rica; Butler, Jack, Wileman - Greece
Argentina def. Switzerland
Or is it Lionel Messi that defeats Switzerland? The Argentines have gotten just two goals that didn't come off the Little Magician's boot and one of those was an own-goal from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pressure will be even more firmly on Messi as Sergio Aguero will miss at least the Swiss match if not more, but our panel has complete faith in the Argentines here.
Argentina was a unanimous choice
Belgium def. United States
Another divisive choice, but Belgium gets a slight edge over the Americans in this match-up. The Americans had a foot in the second round before Cristiano Ronaldo's highlight-reel cross snatched victory out of their hands. Clint Dempsey and the return of Jozy Altidore will provide a handful for the Belgians, but with a balanced attack that has produced four different goal scorers and with Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku yet to register, Belgium gets the edge.
Picks: Butler, deVos, Jack, McNeil, Wheeler – Belgium; Rodney, Wileman - USA
Things get a bit fragmented once the quarters set in. A Brazil-Germany semifinal appears to be on the minds of many of our analysts, but it's by no means by acclaim as both Noel Butler and Wheeler see upsets in the offing.
On the other side Argentina's a safe bet with McNeil providing the lone vote of dissent in favour of the Belgians while the Dutch have been given a healthy dose of competition in the form of Mexico and/or Greece.
Picks: deVos - Brazil def. Germany, Argentina def. Netherlands; Butler - Brazil def. France, Argentina def. Greece; Jack - Brazil def. Germany, Argentina def. Mexico; McNeil - Brazil def. Germany, Belgium def. Netherlands; Rodney - Germany def. Brazil, Argentina def. Netherlands; Wheeler - Germany def. Colombia, Argentina def. Mexico; Wileman - Brazil def. Germany, Argentina def. Netherlands
It appears primed to go one of three ways, or so sayeth we.
Will Brazil exorcise the ghosts of 1950 and finally win the Cup at home? That's the opinion of Jason deVos, Luke Wileman as well as McNeil.
Meanwhile, Jack and Wheeler continue to keep away from the pack, predicting a first-ever championship in the Americas for a European nation. They've got their money down on the Germans.
Ken Rodney and Noel Butler, meanwhile, have gone rogue on the panel and stood in direct opposition to the Brazil-backers. They'll get the bragging rights should Lionel Messi add a World Cup title onto his “Best Player in the World” case-file.
Picks: deVos, McNeil, Wileman – Brazil; Butler, Rodney - Argentina; Jack, Wheeler - Germany