The next week (8 days) at the World Cup is the most dramatic. Like some global game of Survivor, 8 countries will go home after the final round of group play, and then they roll straight into the Round of 16 when another 8 countries get the flick.
Russia and Uruguay have already progressed out of one of the softest groups in World Cup history. Anything other than a Uruguay win sees the hosts qualify top.
Iran has an outside chance of making the last 16, but they will need to beat the Portugal version of the La Liga All-stars. The Spain version of the La Liga All-stars need only a point against the concussion deniers Morocco to advance.
France has already qualified, and a draw with Denmark would see them both qualify. These simultaneous games are designed to stop a Disgrace of Gijón type of a scenario but there is only so much you can legislate for.
Surely Australia won’t be denied a spot in the next round by some dodgy underarm, result tampering, tomfoolery?
If Denmark loses a win by the Ockerroos over Peru would see them advance.
Now things start to get a bit complicated. Croatia are through, but any of the other sides can still join them.
A Nigeria win over Argentina would see the Africans through. On form that should be a formality, but there is talk of mutiny in the Argentinian camp, which is always fun, and surely they can’t continue to be that bad?
Making thing harder to predict is trying to work out how Croatia will approach a fixture that is effectively a dead rubber for them. They’ve got a truckload of players on one yellow card, and might want to give Modric a rest. If so Iceland, who qualified ahead of them, will fancy their chances of picking up three points.
Brazil has been pretty incoherent so far but need only a draw against Serbia to progress but that is no formality. Switzerland need the same against Costa Rica which seems the easier assignment. There is every chance they will top the group.
Mexico tops a group that they are still not guaranteed to progress from. Should they lose to Sweden, and Germany beats South Korea then all three teams will be tied on six points and we get into Goal Difference maths.
The defending champions did the most German thing ever in overcoming Sweden, and all the footballing clichés ever would say they will now go deep into the tournament. And Mexico should be too good for a dispirited Sweden anyway.
Here’s a thing. England and Belgium are both through, have the same number of points, have the same goal difference and have scored the same number of goals. But then a rule called the Fair Play law comes into place. Currently England has received one less yellow card so have a slight edge.
So this will add a strange dynamic to a match that is going to be a bit odd anyway given both sides have hinted at resting players.
This was never meant to happen. Japan got a bit lucky when Colombia got reduced to 10 men and went one down after 3 minutes of their opening match. That was the most group defining single incident of the tournament.
Japan is top of the group with already eliminated Poland to play.
If Columbia was the 1994 version at the back in their opening game, they were the attackingly brilliant 2014 version against the Poles. Assuming Japan gets a point out of their match with Poland they will need to beat Senegal to progress.
There’s your match of the round.