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World Cup 2014: July 1, Napoli - style (not one, not two, but SIX)

Stu Forster

Hello hello, and welcome to the final day of the Round of 16. By the end of this first day of July, there will only be eight teams left in the World Cup. That's rather sad.

Quick! Let's move on. Here's a quick rundown of the past 24 hours

  • Didier Deschamps made the odd decision to play Karim Benzema out wide, alongside an ineffectual Olivier Giroud. This resulted in a rather dull first hour.
  • Finally he came to his senses. On came Antoine Griezmann, Benzema went back to the middle, and boom, Nigeria were defeated. Or something like that.
  • Joachim Löw made the odd decision to play Philipp Lahm in central midfield, thereby exposing Germany's flanks to a fearless Algeria attack.
  • But that was ok, because Manuel Neuer is not to be constrained by the boundaries of the 18-yard-box.
  • Faouzi Ghoam was a BEAST.
  • Löw was thwarted by an injury to Shkodran Mustafi and forced to move Lahm into defense. Suddenly Germany started to look threatening. How weird.
  • Algeria did manage to push them to extra time, only for André Schürrle to decide, a mere 15 seconds later, that now would be a good time to score.
  • Hearts were broken.
  • In the end, France and Germany go through, Nigeria and Algeria go home.

The matches

Group Location Time (CET/ET)
Argentina vs. Switzerland F vs. E Arena Corinthians, São Paulo 6 p.m./ noon
Belgium vs. United States H vs. G Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador 10 p.m./ 4 p.m.

Any Napoli players involved?

Oh baby, are there. Which, alas, means at least two, but more probably three, Napoli players are about to be on their way back from Brazil. Hopefully in one piece.

For Switzerland, of course, we have our midfield trio. Rather surprisingly, Valon Behrami got the start alongside Gokhan Inler against Honduras, despite being spectacularly, dangerously bad against France. But if Switzerland can't make a dent against Argentina, expect to see him replaced by Blerim Džemaili sooner rather than later.

Argentina, of course, features Gonzalo Higuaín, who's yet to make much of an impact in this tournament. In fact, with the exception of Lionel Messi, very few Argentines have left a impression. But with Sergio Agüero out injured, a familiar face will start alongside Pipita. Perhaps Ezequiel Lavezzi is just what this side have been missing.

Oh, and Federico Fernández will be playing as well.

The sixth Napoli player is the one that's been grabbing quite a bit of headline space recently. Apparently the rest of the world has cottoned on to the fact that Dries Mertens is a hell of a player. Marc Wilmots, too, has figured this out, so expect him to start tonight.

How do I watch these games?

In Italy? You're on SkyGO or Sky Mondiale. In the US it's ESPN in English and Univision in Spanish, and both have online streaming platforms, while Canadians friends have CBC and the CBC Sports player. In the UK you can watch  ITV for the first match and BBC One for the rest of the day, or use the ITV or BBC players online. If you live elsewhere, check LiveSoccerTV for listings in your country.