2018 FIFA World Cup: Round of 16 Betting Preview

The group stage at the 2018 World Cup was one of the more unpredictable in recent memory. Will the knockout stage offer up just as many surprises? It's tough to say, but let's try our hand at trying to figure out who will advance out of the Round of 16 and qualify for the Quarterfinals.

France vs Argentina

This game is all about Argentina's frame of mind. They were loaded with pressure coming into the tournament and surrounded by controversy the last three games. If that weight came off their shoulders when they beat Nigeria allowing them to play free and loose, there's no telling what Lionel Messi and company can do. However, the French have two wins and a draw without playing anywhere near their best. They also have multiple ways to win, whereas the Argentines rely a lot on Messi.

Prediction: France 3-1

Uruguay vs Portugal

Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, who has done most of the heavy lifting thus far. However, Uruguay has two players in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who are threats going forward. This may be where Portugal's elderly center backs and modest supporting cast are beaten by a team that can defend well and has two world-class goal scorers.

Prediction: Uruguay 4-2

Spain vs Russia

Russia was dismantled by Uruguay in their last game to the tune of 3-0. That doesn't bode well for a game against Spain, a team that can play keep away against just about any team in the world. This Russian side has proven to be young and exciting to watch, but the Spaniards are savvy and experienced veterans. Spain won't embarrass the host nation on the scoreboard, but it will be a thorough and dominant victory for anyone watching.

Prediction: Spain 2-0

Croatia vs Denmark

Denmark has struggled to get Christian Eriksen, their only world-class player involved in the attack. As a result, they have scored twice in three games. Croatia, on the other hand, has been masterful defensively over the last three games. They will have a plan to limit Eriksen's impact on the game the same way they did Messi. Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has stood on his head during this tournament, but he's bound to give up one sooner or later with his teammates struggling to generate much of an attack.

Prediction: Croatia 1-0 in extra time

Mexico vs Brazil

Brazil has improved in each of its first three games, which is exactly what you want. Meanwhile, there are strong indications that Mexico peaked with their win over Germany in their first match. The back line that was a question mark heading into the tournament was a little exposed against Sweden. If that continues to be the case, one shudders to think what the Brazilians can do to it.

Prediction: Brazil 4-1

Sweden vs Switzerland

Few would have predicted this matchup in the Round of 16 before the tournament started, but here we are. The Swiss will be without center back Fabian Schar and right back Stephan Lichtsteiner because of yellow card suspensions. Those are two huge losses, especially with Emil Forsberg leading the Swedes on the counterattack. Also, after the way Switzerland managed their game against Costa Rica, blowing two separate leads, there's little reason to be confident in them right now.

Prediction: Sweden 2-1

England vs Colombia

This game is a bit of a toss-up, in part because we haven't seen England challenged yet. They beat two lesser teams and then rotated most of their lineup in their loss to Belgium. Meanwhile, Colombia looked outstanding against Poland and then managed to grind out a tough win over Senegal. However, there is some concern about the health of Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, whose absence could be huge.

Prediction: England 2-1

Belgium vs Japan

Surprisingly, Japan struggled the most in this tournament against the more technical Poland team rather than the more athletic and physical Senegal and Colombia squads. That doesn't bode well against Belgium, a team that has great talent at every position and should head into the knockout stage well rested.

Prediction: Belgium 3-0

Don't forget to visit the World Cup $10,000 Bracket Contest page to place your earned entries!