Welcome, friends, to the tournament within the tournament. Group play is now out of the way, and we no longer have to worry about permutations of goal differential or deign to consider pesky things like draws. From here on out, it's win or go home until somebody lifts the Rimet Trophy. This round starts with the unintentionally South American quadrant of the bracket. Five CONMEBOL teams made it out of their groups, and happenstance put all of them together, save Argentina, guaranteeing that we will have at least one South American semifinalist and keeping the possibility for a Brazil-Argentina final very much alive.
Let's get started, shall we?
Brazil vs. Chile
Kickoff Time: 12 noon EDT
Venue: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
TV/Streaming: Today's a broadcast day for English speakers in the US, as ABC will have both games. As usual, Univision will have Spanish-language coverage, while Watch ESPN and Univision Deportes will stream the game online. Coverage will start half an hour before kickoff, so if you're really eager - or if you just love you some Alexi Lalas - tune in at 11:30.
Cliff's Notes: First up is a rematch of Chile's loss in the 2010 World Cup round of 16. Just like this year, in South Africa they finished second in their group and found themselves against Brazil, who decimated la Roja 3-0. Back in the present, Brazil are obviously favorites in front of their home fans, but they'll have to find the gear they've been missing through the group stage to get past a difficult Chilean squad. You will also hear a lot about Barcelona teammates Neymar and Alexis Sanchez playing opposite each other, so get ready for that particular forced narrative.
Who Should I Root For? Like all soccer hipsters, I'm a huge partisan of Chile, but even I have to say Brazil here. This is their tournament, and it would lose a bit of luster if a Seleção were to fall this early. So, pull for Brazil, even if begrudgingly.
Kickoff Time: 4pm EDT
Venue: Estadio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
TV/Streaming: Just like today's first game, this one will be on ABC and Univision on your larger screen and WatchESPN and Univision Deportes on your smaller screen, starting half an hour prior to kickoff.
Cliff's Notes: First and foremost will be the absence of Luis Suarez, who of course was banned for the remainder of this tournament (and then some) for his tooth-based assault on Giorgio Chiellini. Edinson Cavani will have to pick up the slack on the forward line for la Celeste against a Colombian side that may have found its rhythm, scoring 3 goals per game on their way to a perfect record in Group C. Expect a lot of shots of injured Colombian striker Radamel Falcao in a suite but none of Suarez, whose ban actually includes a prohibition on entering a soccer stadium.
Who Should I Root For? Losing Suarez simultaneously makes Uruguay more socially acceptable to root for and a lot less fun to watch. It doesn't matter, though, because you should be rooting for Colombia. Did you see The Two Escobars? How could you not cheer on los Cafeteros. (Also, their nickname translates to "the Coffeers." Your argument is invalid.)
Welcome to your open thread for the day. Please, make yourself at home.