The party in South America has now reached its halfway mark. Forty-eight matches into the 2014 World Cup and Chelsea are still very well represented across the last 16, with our men as hard to root out as pieces of rice in a bowl of couscous.
We still have ten stars out in Brazil, the most of any Premier League team, with a number of our boys having their eyes firmly on the prize. At this juncture, you’d be mad to bet against a dash of Blue finding its way onto the famous trophy come July 13th.
Still, we have said farewell to a few. The Spanish Chelsea contingent – Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta and new signing Cesc Fabregas – bit the dust early on, with the now deposed champions suffering the humiliation of a group stage exit.
Gary Cahill was also down and out after just two games with England, while young talent Christian Atsu (despite some very promising performances) also bows out.
Brazil v Chile – Ramires, Oscar, Willian
Its been like a normal working day for Oscar, Willian and Ramires in their home country so far, winning games with ex-teammate David Luiz, and helping to guide the Selecao through to a last 16 tie with Chile.
While this is a game they are expected to win, Brazil have not been at their best so far in the tournament (probably because both Willian and Ramires haven’t been used enough!), and will certainly be given a run for their money by the Chileans, who whipped up quite a storm in Group B, finishing a comfortable second and turning Spain into bubble and squeak.
Prediction: Brazil 2-1 Chile
France v Nigeria – John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses, Kenneth Omeruo
While easily forgotten by those not of a Blue persuasion, Chelsea are strongly represented in the Nigeria national setup, with three players facing the French on Monday in Brasília.
Defender Kenneth Omeruo, despite being a practically unknown quantity at Stamford Bridge, played all three of the Super Eagles games. A Chelsea man since 2012, the 20-year-old is yet to play a competitive match for the club, and spent the last year on loan at Middlesbrough.
He and John Obi Mikel will be starting against Les Bleus, but Victor Moses has not had a good tournament so far, dropping to the bench after the first match against Iran, and may not be heavily involved in the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia.
Still, manager Stephen Keshi may well call upon his pace and power against the French, who are expected to see off the African champions comfortably.
Prediction: France 3-1 Nigeria
Germany v Algeria – Andre Schurrle
Of all our boys in Brazil, surely Schurrle has the most chance of getting his paws on the prize! Germany were pretty impressive in the group stage (bar a minor blip against Atsu’s Ghana), and they are heavily tipped to make mincemeat of minnows Algeria on Monday.
The 23-year-old has only featured from the bench so far for Joachim Löw’s side, but always looks like he has a goal in him, and could grab one against the North Africans if given the chance!
Prediction: Germany 4-1 Algeria
Belgium v USA – Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois
This is sure to be fun to watch, full of twists and turns, and with a jaw-dropping finish – and I’m not just talking about our man Eden Hazard’s wing-play!
USA will provide stiff competition for the Belgians, who have not been quite as impressive as many expected. Still, Courtois has only let in one goals so far in South America, Hazard bagged the man-of-the-match award in the last match against Russia, and Lukaku has started every match up top.
This could go either way, that is if the USA keep their now trademark indomitable spirit up, but Belgium should have enough to see them through to the quarter finals.
Prediction: Belgium 1-0 USA
World Cup predictions with JUST EAT – Win £500 in free takeaway
Everyone knows that takeaway and football go together. Well, our mates at JUST EAT, the online takeaway service, have taken things a step further with their Foody Forecaster.
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The Round of 16 games involving Chelsea players are a culinary delight – how do you pick between Feijoada (Brazil) and Pastel de choclo (Chile), Crepe (France) and Nigerian Stew (Nigeria), Currywurst (Germany) and Couscous (Algeria) or Mussels and Fries (Belgium) and Hamburger (USA)? Just looking through all the different national dishes has got me salivating for some great food, which is kind of the point of JUST EAT’s forecaster (that and winning JUST EAT vouchers, of course).
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