RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26: Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil group G match between the United States and Germany at Arena Pernambuco on June 26, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.

World Cup Round of 16: Match-ups, schedules, more

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For two weeks, the Round of 16 has been a hypothetical. Now that the games are set, here’s what you need to know about the second round of the 2014 World Cup.

Format and changes

  • Top two teams from the tournament’s eight groups have advanced, slotting into a pre-determined bracket;
  • Teams that finished first in one group will face second place-finishers from others;
  • Games start on Saturday and will happen two-per-day until the quarterfinals are set on Tuesday;
  • If a game is tied after 90 minutes, there’ll be 30 minutes of extra time, then penalty kicks;
  • Your margin for error is over – it’s now win or go home;
  • Yellow cards carry over from group stage and will continue matter in the knockout round.

Here are the eight matches, which begin on Saturday at noon ET. Winners of each day’s games play each other in the quarterfinals. Your bracket is at the bottom of the post, or can be seen here.

[ MORE – SOCCERLY: Klinsmann sees potential to make history ]

Schedule
Saturday, June 28

Brazil vs. Chile, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Belo Horizonte – The home nation will be favorites, but a midfield that failed to impress during group stage will have its hands full with an energetic Roja. Slotted adjacent to Colombia-Uruguay, this pod ensures one South American team will make it to the tournament’s semifinals.

Colombia vs. Uruguay, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Rio de Janeiro – The day’s second all-South America matchup with see the CONMEBOL champions, without Luis Suárez, take on the favored Cafeteros. Colombia’s attacking midfielder James Rodríguez has been one of the stars of the tournament, while Edinson Cavani will be asked to step up in the wake of his suspended teammate.

Sunday, June 29

Netherlands vs. Mexico, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Fortaleza – The Dutch have been as strong as any team in the tournament, but allowing only one goal in group play, Mexico’s already showed the quality to keep up with the Oranje. Their veteran defense led by Rafa Márquez will be tasked with slowing the competition’s most potent striker tandem: Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Costa Rica vs. Greece, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Recife – The least-likely of the knockout round match ups features two teams who’ve found success without seeing much of the ball. Greece’s last minute winner against the Ivory Coast clinched their first knockout round spot, while Costa Rica were the surprise winners of one of the tournament’s deepest groups. Shockingly, one of these teams will be in the quarterfinals.

Monday, June 30

France vs. Nigeria, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Brasilía – Though they were drawn in their last group game by Ecuador, France has been one of the tournament’s best teams. Nigeria, much like Greece and Algeria, were the beneficiaries of a thin group, finishing second behind Argentina. On paper, this is one of the most lopsided of the round’s matchups, but given the surprises we’ve seen throughout the tournament, there’s no Round of 16 mismatch that can’t be overcome.

Germany vs. Algeria, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Porto Alegre – Despite stumbling in their second group game against Ghana, Germany remains one of the tournament’s favorites, with a possible matchup against France potentially providing semifinal quality in the round of eight. To get there, however, the Germans will have deal with the team they controversially put out of the 1982 World Cup. Though collusion with Austria kept Algeria from getting out of the teams’ group in Spain, Algeria is finally into the knockout round after Thursday’s draw with Russia.

Tuesday, July 1

Argentina vs. Switzerland, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, São Paulo – Four goals from Lionel Messi pushed the Argentines to the top of Group F, while Switzerland recovered from its thrashing by France to make the final 16. Both teams have a wealth of attacking talent, but Argentina’s is amongst the best in the world.

Belgium vs. United States, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Salvador – Belgium is one of four perfect teams remaining in the tournament yet failed to show it in any of their three group matches. They’ll still be favored over the U.S., however, though the resiliency the Americans showed to get out of a difficult group will force the Belgians to play closer to their potential.

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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Designing the perfect UEFA Champions League Round of 16

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 06:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona chips the ball over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Muenchen to score his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, first leg match between FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Muenchen at Camp Nou on May 6, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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With 16 teams settled into their spots for Monday’s UEFA Champions League draw, what would be the most tantalizing octet of matches for February’s Round of 16.

We’ll include a full list of seeded and unseeded teams at the bottom so you can pair ’em up however you like, but let’s start with our best ideas.

Remember: Teams can neither be drawn against teams from their own domestic leagues, or against the other advancing team from their group stage quartets.

[ MORE: USMNT GK off to Belgium? ]

Let’s begin with the reigning champions. Real Madrid is unseeded, and cannot draw Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund. Our vote would be Juventus and a reprisal of the 2015 final in Berlin.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane would not be pleased.

Staying in Spain, seeded Barcelona only knows it will avoid Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Sevilla. We’re interested in attractive soccer, so how about a bombastic battle with Bayern Munich.

Manchester City is the lone Premier League team in the unseeded pool, and cannot face Arsenal, Leicester City, or Barcelona. We’re thinking Sky Blue vs. Sky Blue, and a match-up with Napoli.

Leicester City completes the Premier League trio. Given our above draw and group mates Porto, that leaves Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla, and PSG as potential rivals. We’ll chose Bayer Leverkusen as the match-up likely gives the Foxes their best chance to hit the snooze button and keep dreaming.

The biggest name left is Paris Saint-Germain (with apologies to BVB). Unai Emery’s bunch would be left with Atletico Madrid as the lone option, and another tete-a-tete between the ex-Sevilla boss and Diego Simeone works for us.

Now Arsenal… who do you draw with the hopes of a quarterfinal berth in ages? The remaining options are Benfica, Sevilla, and Porto. We’ll give Benfica a trip to the Emirates, leaving Porto to face Monaco, and Sevilla on the road to Borussia Dortmund.

Our final draw:
Arsenal vs. Benfica
Monaco vs. Porto
Borussia Dortmund vs. Sevilla
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Manchester City
Leicester City vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Juventus vs. Real Madrid


Seeded
Arsenal
Atletico Madrid
Barcelona
Napoli
Monaco
Leicester City
Juventus
Borussia Dortmund

Unseeded
Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
Benfica
Bayer Leverkusen
Porto
Sevilla
Real Madrid

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Europa League preview: Saints, Man Utd hope to join Spurs in Round of 32

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Yuto Nagatomo of Internazionale (R) and Ivan Perisic of Internazionale close down Nathan Redmond of Southampton during the UEFA Europa League Group K match between Southampton FC and FC Internazionale Milano at St Mary's Stadium on November 3, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Tottenham Hotspur will be seeded in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 32. What do Manchester United and Southampton need to do Thursday to join them?

Both the Red Devils and Saints enter the final group stage match day in their respective groups’ second place, but only United can claim a seeded place in the Round of 32.

[ UCL: Scenarios for Premier League sides ]

United can still win Group A, and would need to better Fenerbahce’s result on Thursday. Jose Mourinho’s men are in Ukraine against bottom-dwelling Zorya Luhansk, while Fener are away at Feyenoord.

Manchester United will advance with a draw, and could also go through if they lose and Feyenoord doesn’t defeat Fenerbahce.

As for Saints, Claude Puel‘s men are level with Hapoel Be’er Sheva and welcome the Israel side to St. Mary’s after drawing 0-0 in the reverse fixture.

Southampton needs to beat Hapoel or hold them to a scoreless draw. A scoring draw would push HBS through via road goals.

Full UEL schedule

11 a.m. EDT
Konyarspor vs. Gent
Qarabag vs. Fiorentina
Osmanlispor vs. Zurich
Braga vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Villarreal vs. Steaua Bucuresti
PAOK vs. Liberece

1 p.m. EDT
Vikrotia Plzen vs. Austria Wien
Apoel Nicosia vs. Olympiacos
Sassuolo vs. Genk
Anderlecht vs. Saint-Etienne
Zorya Luhansk vs. Manchester United
Rapid Wien vs. Athletic Bilbao
Young Boys vs. Astana
AZ Alkmaar vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Feyenoord vs. Fenerbahce
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Dundalk
Mainz vs. Gabala
Astra Giurgiu vs. Roma

3:05 p.m. EDT
Panathinaikos vs. Celta Vigo
Standard Liege vs. Ajax
Inter Milan vs. Sparta Prague
Southampton vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva
RB Salzburg vs. Schalke
Nice vs. Krasnodar

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