World Cup Quarterfinals: Match-ups, schedule, bracket and more

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Over the last four days, eight more teams have seen out of this year’s World Cup. Now, with 56 of the tournament’s 64 games played, Brazil 2014 is down to its final eight teams, all of whom finished atop their group.

Just like the last round, we’re here to run you through the match-ups. Here are the four games that will decide who reaches this year’s semifinals (the full knockout round bracket is below).

Schedule
Friday, July 4

France vs. Germany, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Rio de Janeiro – Two of the more impressive teams coming out of the group stage faced unexpected problems in the last round, with two African nations (Nigeria, Algeria) forcing Les Bleus and die Nationalmannschaft to find late goals to reach the quarterfinals. Though Germany came into the competition as one of its favorites, France is seen as a threat to knock off the three-time champions, with a midfield of Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi, and Paul Pogba capable of slowing down the possession-hungry Germans.
– Round of 16: France scores twice late | Schürrle’s extra time winners lifts Germans
– More: France, Germany, and one of the ugliest incidents in World Cup history

Brazil vs. Colombia, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Fortaleza – Like Germany, the host nation came into the World Cup as one of the tournament favorites, but after showing flaws in group play and being taken to penalty kicks against Chile, you won’t have to look long to find somebody who’s picking the still perfect Cafeteros to reach the final. In James Rodríguez (pictured, five goals in four games), the Colombians have the tournament’s standout player, and with speculation about a weak defense yet to come to fruition, José Pékerman’s team looks like the strongest side in the competition, so far.
– Round of 16: Brazil through on penalty kicks | James carrying Colombia
– More: Neymar, Rodríguez: South America’s future shines before the knockout round

 

source: AP
Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates setting up his side’s  winning goal in extra time during the World Cup round of 16. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Schedule
Saturday, July 5

Argentina vs. Belgium, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Brasília – James may be the player of the tournament thus far, but Brazil 2014 may yet turn into Lionel Messi’s World Cup. As we were reminded on Tuesday’s winning goal, there’s little the Albiceleste can do right now that doesn’t involve their best player, and while that would be a recipe of disaster for most quarterfinals-bound teams, this is Lionel Messi we’re talking about. As for Belgium, their 2-1 win over the U.S. understates how well they played. They may not have Messi, but they performed better in the last round.
– Round of 16: Messi, Di María snatch it late | Belgium finally break down U.S.

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Salvador – Playing with 10 men over the final hour, Costa Rica survived to eliminate Greece on penalty kicks. They’re the only non-European, non-South American team left in the tournament. While the Dutch finished one of the tournament’s toughest groups with a perfect record, they were second best to Mexico for large parts of their Round of 16 match. With a late comeback, the Oranje are through, favored to reach the semifinals at the expense of the tournament’s last Cinderella.
– Round of 16: Robben draws late penalty, Dutch move on | 10-man Ticos stay alive
– More: Arjen Robben apologizes for early-match diving, but agrees with penalty call

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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Another Alexis link; Zlatan, the coach?

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Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.

If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.

[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]


14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.

That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.

Costa statement: Let me go, “I must return to Atletico Madrid”

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Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]

Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:

“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.