Group play of the 2014 World Cup is officially over, and from the opening match to the final day, it did not disappoint. The Group of Death lived up to its name, the Brazilian humidity lived up to its expectations, and now it’s time to buckle our seatbelts for the knockout rounds. Before we get there, though, let’s see what went down in the final week of the group stage.
The Group of Death came down to the wire. All four teams had a chance to move on before their matches. The US found itself in a 1-0 hole to Germany after a Thomas Muller strike got past Tim Howard. In the other group match, which was happening at the same time, Portugal and Ghana were all tied up at 1-1. If Ghana pulled ahead, it would mean the end of the road for the Americans.
But Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad can thank Cristiano Ronaldo for their spot in the final 16. Even though the US lost to Germany, 1-0, Ronaldo’s late goal against Ghana put Portugal up 2-1 and allowed the US to advance. And with its win, Germany punched its ticked to the next round, too.
Greece made history in Group C on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast, reaching the final 16 for the first time. It took a dramatic finish to get there, though, with Georgios Samaras breaking a 1-1 tie in the 93rd minute on a penalty kick, leaving the Ivory Coast just one point away from moving on. (Colombia is the other team out of the group to make it to the knockout round.)
In Group F play, Argentina made a case as the new favorite in the tournament and Lionel Messi is playing for the Golden Ball as the World Cup’s best player. He scored two more goals in a 3-2 win over Nigeria, helping Argentina to an undefeated finish. Nigeria advanced in the second spot despite the loss.
Uruguay knocked Italy out of Group D for the second straight time. The last time the Italians made it to the knockout rounds, they won it all. But Uruguay lost its star goal-scorer, Luis Suarez, in the process, who was slapped with a four-month ban after apparently biting an Italian defender. (Costa Rica is the top team in the group.)
Here are the other teams that made it out of group play: Brazil and Mexico from Group A; Netherlands and Chile from Group B; France and Switzerland in Group E; and Belgium and Algeria in Group H.
The knockout round starts Saturday, and from here on out it’s win or go home. Can’t get any more exciting than that!
Here’s the full schedule of the Round of 16 matches:
Saturday, June 28
Brazil vs. Chile – 12 PM
Uruguay vs. Colombia – 4 PM
Sunday, June 29
Mexico vs. Netherlands – 12 PM
Greece vs. Costa Rica – 4 PM
Monday, June 30
Nigeria vs. France – 12 PM
Algeria vs. Germany – 4 PM
Tuesday, July 1
Switzerland vs. Argentina – 12 PM
USA vs. Belgium – 4 PM
For more World Cup coverage, check out SI Kids' Guide to the 2014 World Cup!
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Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images