With the group stage complete, 16 teams remain as the knockout stage gets under way. Here's a thumbnail preview of the matchups:
The South Koreans impressed in the group stage with their speed, fluid movement and approach play, as well as an ability to score on set pieces. The attacking triumvirate of
In stark contrast, Uruguay is a rugged, disciplined outfit that stays compact and keeps players behind the ball at all times.
As ever, the U.S. is a team that can be hard to read. To a certain extent it depends on whether you take the glass half-full or half-empty approach. On the one hand, you can highlight the impressive achievement in winning its group and the fact that this U.S. squad -- behind its key offensive trio of
The reason Ghana is the only the African team left in the tournament is down to its defense. The Black Stars' are far more solid and compact in shape and discipline than African teams typically are. However, this is also a team that struggles to score -- something that's hard to believe when you see the power, pace and creativity Ghana brings to the table when going forward. In fact, creating chances is not Ghana's problem, not with the likes of
England, by contrast is a veteran squad -- the oldest in the tournament in terms of average age.
Argentina has been the media darlings of the tournament so far with its inventive approach play, camera-friendly, larger-than-life coach
As for Mexico, El Tri have also been electric at times, with clever midfield passing combinations and its speed of play down the wings. Coach
The Dutch have been workmanlike so far in winning all three of its games, but have yet to showcase the flair and creativity they're famed for. Most of that is due to the absence of winger
Slovakia's a hard team to read. The Slovaks were cautious, uninspired and unimaginative in their first two games, while star
Paraguay has relied on defense the past few years and this team is no different, exhibiting good defensive discipline. Offensively Paraguay has three highly-accomplished strikers in
There remains questions about Japan coach
For a team that has been near unbeatable for the last couple of years, Spain has yet to reach the type of form observers expect. Part of the issue is coach
Portugal limped into the World Cup on the back of a poor qualifying campaign and despite a seven-goal haul against North Korea, which looks more and more like a fluke outburst, this is a team that still struggles to score and plays far more negatively than Portuguese teams of the past. The defense is strong with a pair of excellent center backs in