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FIFA World Cup: 28 June 2014: Live Thread

A live thread for the first day of the FIFA World Cup knockout stages

Clive Brunskill

The sparring is over; now it's time to get down to business in Brazil as the knockout stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup start today in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro. Peculiarly enough, the hosts Brazil will not be playing in Rio today at the Maracana -- instead, South American rivals Uruguay and Colombia will set foot in the hallowed home of joga bonito to battle for a place in the quarter-finals. However, Brazil will get the honour of raising the curtain on the Round of 16 in their early evening kick-off against Chile at the Estadio Mineirao.

Hands up if you're excited...

Brazil vs Chile, Kickoff: 6pm CET

Neymar versus Alexis Sanchez. Dani Alves vs Claudio Bravo -- FC Barcelona might not have the most representatives from these two teams, but they arguably have the most important. Neymar of course is the poster boy for the tournament in general, and has predictably lived up to the hype, scoring four goals in the group stage and generally dragging Brazil to top spot in Group A. He was the star, the puto jefe as Guardiola would say. Certainly, it would be a devastating blow to FIFA and the tournament if he were to depart at such an early stage. And as such, I know I'll be rooting for Neymar to progress.

That being said, Alexis Sanchez has been incredible as well. Perhaps not as decisive as his Blaugrana teammate, but impressive nonetheless -- and it would be a similar shame to see him head back to Catalunya. So, can new Barcelona signing Claudio Bravo keep Neymar at bay? Will Sanchez be able to get the better of Dani Alves and the Brazil defense? It's probably the best tie of the round, and I know I'll be glued to the TV, watching and enjoying every second.

Colombia vs Uruguay, Kickoff: 10pm CET

We can't even talk about reported Barcelona target, Luis Suarez given his ban. Juan Cuadrado probably won't sign for the Blaugrana, so there's little point in focusing on him. So, I suppose the only logical thing to do would be to focus on the football (gasp!) -- and if we're talking about football, we have to first talk about James Rodriguez. Anyone with a relatively broad knowledge of football will have known about his talents long before this tournament, but it's nice to see James making a real name for himself, outside of that hefty pricetag and move to AS Monaco.

Finally moving out of the shadow of Falcao, James has been the driving force behind Colombia's incredible group stage and it would be a surprise if he didn't muster similar heroics tonight against a Uruguay team that escaped Group D by the skin of their teeth. Ahem. Without Suarez, it's hard to take them seriously, even if they do have some good players. However, the World Cup has been full of surprises and I wouldn't bet against seeing another one tonight.

Enjoy the games!

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