After a weekend that was ripe with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL with a gentle dusting of UEFA, today's games feature two UEFA teams and two CAF ones, and one of today's four teams is the reason some folks' brackets are still alive. Without further adieu...
France vs. Nigeria
Kickoff Time: 12 noon EDT
Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
TV/Streaming: ESPN (Derek Rae and Efan Ekoku get the call) and ESPN Deportes, and Univision and Univision Deportes.
Cliff's Notes: Nigeria played an entertaining game with Argentina in Group F, losing 3-2 despite both teams already knowing their place in knockouts was seal. France rolled over who they needed to in Group E, despite a last-match draw with Ecuador. Karim Benzema quietly is averaging a goal a game, and Mamadou Sakho is part of a defense that had very little to do in Group play.
Who Should I Root For? Now that group play is over, while I pine for some emotion and for a Super Eagles upset, I have to think France will avail themselves well before their next match.
Germany vs. Algeria
Kickoff Time: 4pm EDT
Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
TV/Streaming: Jon Champion and Stewart Robson get the helm for ESPN. The Deportes side is also broadcasting, along with Univision and Univision Deportes.
Cliff's Notes: Germany has been, for lack of a better description, Germany, in Group play. Two shutouts in three matches, seven goals scored despite not having a player in the Top 10 of the "Castrol Index" that people like to use (in defense of the Germans, Thomas Mueller is tied for second in the Golden Boot race next to Messi and Neymar. Algeria while not being the prettiest belle of the ball, are potentially a handful. When their discipline and organization is clicking they can be a tough out. The Algerians can lean on history to an extent, with a 2-1 victory over the then-West German team in the 1982 tournament, but that's before Joachim Loew could get knuckle deep, if you know what I'm saying.
Who Should I Root For? It seems at this point the only thing that is liable to beat the Germans is themselves. Similar to the first game, while Algeria would be the better story, Germany is just too big so far this tournament.
Here's hoping for some non-Robben moments.