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All-South American Round-of-16 Clashes Can Lead to Defining 2014 World Cup Tie

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  James Rodriguez (L) and Pablo Armero (R) of Colombia acknowledge the fans after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Colombia at Arena Pantanal on June 24, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)
Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2014

A World Cup finals held in South America was always going to be a special one for nations taking part from that region of the world. With five of the six securing their place in the last 16—Ecuador was the lone country to miss outit doesn't appear the party will end any time soon.

While the round-of-16 clash between Brazil and Chile will doubtless get plenty of attention with the hosts facing one of the most exciting teams around, it is the other all-South American fixture which might be the best game of the early knockouts.

And, should results fall the right way, we could see a quarter-final tie which offers everything a South American World Cup might be expected to give: a defining game of the 2014 finals.

 

Colombia

Colombia romped to a third straight win in their group against Japan on Tuesday, finishing top of Group C in style with nine goals scored in their three matches.

The skill and immense quality of James Rodriguez, the madness of Teofilo Gutierrez and the unstoppable pace and power of Juan Cuadrado combine to make them one of the most dangerous sides in the tournament on the counter-attack.

CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  James Rodriguez of Colombia celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Colombia at Arena Pantanal on June 24, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Warren Little/
Warren Little/Getty Images

Colombia have quality going forward to break teams down, and Mario Yepes continues to look ageless and impassable in defence, but they never look more dangerous than just after winning the ball back. In terms of transition play, such a major feature of this World Cup, Colombia are one of the finest.

 

Uruguay

Even without Luis Suarez, Uruguay aren't doomed. Edinson Cavani has been a big part of their play on and off the ball, and he has found the net during the group stage.

Uruguay aren't the flashiest side around, though they do have potential—if sporadic—creativity with the likes of Cristian Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez and Nicolas Lodeiro.

They will give maximum effort to win every game, they are a big threat off set pieces, and they have the tactical ability to mix up their system if the game isn't going according to plan.

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

 

Dream Quarter-Final?

The winners of the match will face either Brazil or Chile at the quarter-final stage.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Neymar of Brazil celebrates scoring his team's second goal and his second of the game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Brazil at Estadio Nacional on June 23, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

While the majority of the support will be for the host nation and their star player Neymar—tied for the most goals (four) at the tournament so far—perhaps the most exciting and stunning combination for the last eight would be Colombia meeting Chile.

Both sides play with great intensity, huge amounts of skill and a fast, transition-based attack.

In short, it would give us a match which could leave a lasting impression, regardless of the victor, and a genuine candidate for ultimate glory in the Maracana on July 13.

It might not give us Brazil, but that quarter-final match-up could be the game of the 2014 World Cup.

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