After 15 days, 48 games, 137 goals, nine red cards and one bite, the group stages of the World Cup are over and we have a last 16.

Today we take a well-earned breather with no games today but there’s plenty to look back on after a stormy day in Brazil, which saw four more teams sent home (as well as Luis Suarez) and Algeria qualify for the knockout stages for the first time.


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FBL-WC-2014-MATCH45-USA-GERIn theory it should have been a quiet last round in Group G, with Germany and the USA just needing a convenient draw to book their last in the next round.

However, the day was overshadowed by a monster storm in Recife which threatened the game itself, while Ghana’s World Cup implosion went one stage further as Kevin-Price Boateng and Sulley Muntari were expelled before their game with Portugal (I wonder if they got their sackful of money).

When Germany/USA did kick off, it was still pouring it down and the focus of the first half was on Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low’s contrasting attempts at staying dry.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal outIn the other game, Portugal gave themselves a sniff of qualification through a John Boye own goal but they needed more than one goal to edge out the States.

Klinsmann’s men will have felt the jitters when Thomas Muller’s fine strike but Germany ahead but they came back admirably and in the end possibly deserved a draw for their attacking endeavour, if not for their profligacy in front of goal.

Down in Brasilia, Ghana equalised as Asamoah Gyan converted Kwadmoh Asamoah’s brilliant cross but Cristiano Ronaldo leathered home a late winner for the Portuguese.


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There was still all to play for in Group H but Belgium ensured top spot and an 100% record with a hard-fought 1-0 win over South Korea, which would complete a miserable tournament for the Asian side.

South Korea were unable to take advantage when Steven Defour was sent off for a rash tackle in the first half and Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen got the winner in the 77th minute, slotting home after Divock Origi’s shot could only be palmed out by Kim Seung-gyu.

Algeria players celebrateWith South Korea out, there was all to play for in Curitiba and Russia were on course for the win they needed when Aleksandr Kokorin put them ahead early on.

But it was Algeria who would progress for the first time in the history as Islam Slimani headed home an equaliser on the hour.

Fabio Capello was left to bemoan the referee after the game but he will be having nightmares about Algeria, given the struggles England suffered against them in 2010.

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Despite the off-field drama, events unfolded as expected in Group G and the United States’ progression ensures that our preview guru, Danny, will be running down his street with the American flag any day now. They’ll do well to get past Belgium on Tuesday.

Algeria’s brilliant performance in beating South Korea last weekend showed they have much more in their armoury then solid defence, but they will look to frustrate Germany when they meet on Monday night.


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Islam Slimani AlgeriaPlayer of the Day: ISLAM SLIMANI – On a day when one of the world’s finest players in Cristiano Ronaldo headed home, it was up to the lesser lights to make a name for themselves and in Islam Slimani’s case, he will return to Algeria a national hero after ensuring their progression.

The 26-year-old plays for Ronaldo’s former club, Sporting, and his two goals in the group stage came at vital times.


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Brazil v Chile (5pm, BBC)

Colombia v Uruguay (9pm, ITV)


Brazil/Chile should be a real cracker and Jorge Sampaoli’s have both the tactical discipline to frustrate the hosts but also the attacking ability to punish them. I wouldn’t like to call this one but I do think there’ll be goals – Over 2.5 at 4/5 (Betway) strikes me as irresistible.

Meanwhile, the delusional Uruguayans face the exciting Colombia and I think most of the world will be hoping James Rodriguez can again inspire his side and take them through to the quarter-finals. Uruguay showed against Costa Rica that without Suarez they are hopeless so Colombia to win both halves at 11/2 (PaddyPower, Coral, BetFred) looks like good value to me.

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Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @CraigSWFC

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