The Likeliest World Cup Knockout Pairings

The World Cup is still a few months away, and there’s plenty of interesting football around the world between now and then. Still, it’s almost impossible not to look ahead to the beautiful game’s biggest tournament now that the groups are out there. Rather than going group by group, however, as is happening all across the web, we’re taking a look at a hypothetical knockout round.

Of course there’s no telling for sure how the group stages will play out. But we do have early predictions to consider, and as one platform puts it, sports betting means having all the top events’ odds at your fingertips. That means that even as odds and projections may change over the coming months, we already have some idea of which teams are expected to advance from each group, and in which order. Given some of these early odds, these are what we’d expect from the knockout pairings.

Group A Winner vs. Group B Runner-Up
This is the first match up in the knockout stage, and the odds indicate that it will pit Uruguay against Portugal. Uruguay isn’t what it might have been in 2014 these days, but should benefit from a fairly easy group, if it can take the top spot over Russia. Portugal, meanwhile, will be looking to make a better show of things than in 2014 when it failed to advance. Right now it’s hard not to take Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. as the likely winners in this potential matchup.

Group C Winner vs. Group D Runner-Up
All signs point to France versus Croatia in this one. France is among the tournament favorites and should have no trouble topping Group C. Group D is a little bit more competitive, with Nigeria and potentially even Iceland posing threats to this second spot. But Croatia is the likeliest finisher here. It can give France a game, but the French would still be favorites to move on to the final eight.

Group E Winner vs. Group F Runner-Up
Brazil is another tournament favorite, and one that will be given very strong odds to top its group (over Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia). Mexico may have its work cut out for it beating out South Korea and Sweden for what’s almost sure to be the number two spot behind Germany in Group F. But given that the Mexicans played very well in qualifying, they’ll be expected to advance – and likely fall to mighty Brazil.

Group G Winner vs. Group H Runner-Up
The only real threat to Belgium’s group supremacy will be England, but as of now the Belgians still have the odds on their side. Group H’s runner-up is more of an open question given that it might be the most tightly contested group overall. Whichever team emerges, however – in this case, likely Poland – will be less of a pushover than it appears for Belgium. Still, the Belgians should advance to the final eight.

Group B Winner vs. Group A Runner-Up
Spain seems very likely to win Group B over Portugal, Morocco, and Iran, and could be the team to put the hosts’ run to an end. Assuming Russia snags the second spot in Group A, this will be a tough match for them.

Group D Winner vs. Group C Runner-Up
Argentina is one of the most interesting teams this time around, because Messi and Co. had to scrap and claw just to get into the Cup. They’re still being called Group D favorites though, and may even have an easy time with the runner-up from a relatively weak (beyond France) Group C. Denmark would be a long shot here.

Group F Winner vs. Group E Runner-Up
Germany isn’t just the noted favorite of Group F; in fact, they’re favored to win it all and repeat their glory from 2014. The Germans still look to be the class of international football, and will have no trouble whatsoever reaching this stage – or advancing past the runner-up from Group E. That’s likely to be Switzerland, though as has been the case a few times in recent years, the Swiss ranking is a little bit generous.

Group H Winner vs. Group G Runner-Up
Colombia has become a reliably deadly side in the past decade, and if it tops Group H could well set up this fascinating matchup with England. In 2014 the Colombians made it to the final eight before falling to then-host Brazil, and they’ll be looking to get at least as step further this time (though they’d face Germany in the next round). The English, meanwhile, will take a revamped, younger lineup to Russia in the hopes of resetting their international reputation somewhat.

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