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Friday June 25th- Team Guides and Match Previews - Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea, Chile, Spain, Switzerland, and Honduras

Well there have been 3 days of heartbreak and excitement as teams play their final matches of the group stages and try to secure a spot in the round of 16, 24 teams have tried, 12 have succeeded and now the final 4 matches, the final 4 spots will be claimed.  One spot is already claimed, two teams haven't got a prayer and the world will be watching as they do battle.

Brazil vs. Portugal - 8:00am MT -  ESPN

Well it would take a miracle for these teams not to advance out of their group, Brazil is in and Portugal would need to lose while the Ivory Coast won, and Ivory Coast would need to make up a 9 goal gap between the two teams.  Yeah this group is over but this match is about who will win the group, and momentum going into the round of 16.

SB Nation Exclusive Content:

Brazil Team Site and Team Guide

Portugal Team Site and Team Guide

Blog Post: Where We Stand, Groups G and H

Match Previews:

Official FIFA Match Preview:

"Our team's reputation will also be on the line. Our final group position is at stake, but more importantly we first have to seal our place in the next round. For that reason it's vital that we're totally focused and totally determined. That's because everything we did right against the North Koreans - the goals we scored and the hard work we put in - doesn't necessarily mean we'll now beat Brazil," Carlos Queiroz, Portugal coach.

"It's another tough match, like every World Cup game. Our plan is to keep getting stronger with each game, like we did in 2002 (in Korea/Japan). In terms of technical ability, Portugal are on a par with Brazil. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, but we don't intend to man-mark him. We'll have to keep an eye on all their players," Lucio, Brazil captain and centre-back.

Fox Sports Match Preview:

Already through to the second round of the World Cup, Brazil wants to finish the group stage with a win over Portugal to keep its momentum going ahead of the round of 16.

The win would also allow Brazil to finish first in Group G, possibly avoiding a match against European champion Spain in the next round.

Clearly this is the most exciting matchup on paper of the group stages (OK tied with the US vs. England), the #1 and #3 teams in the FIFA rankings facing off in a group stage.  Portugal has a lot more at stake, a win would get them the top spot in the group, and prove that the opening match loss to Ivory Coast was a fluke.  Brazil has scored 5 goals, while allowing just 2 in their first two matches, Portugal scored 7 (all in one match) and haven't allowed a goal.  I expect this one to be open and free as both sides love to play "pretty" soccer, 3-2 Brazil.

more after the jump:

Only a miracle can save Ivory Coast, while only a lot of security can save the North Korean team from heading for the stands and seeking immunity, this match will likely be very one sided as North Korea will try to save face, while Ivory Coast will be looking for some pride for the African teams.  I questioned the decision by FIFA to award so many spots to the African region, and with just one team making it out of their group, I think I am right but the Ivory Coast could become the third team from the region to score 4 points in their group, joining South Africa the first host to not make the round of 16 and Ghana who claimed 2nd place in group D.

Ivory Coast vs North Korea - 8:00am MT - ESPN 2

SB Nation Exclusive Content:

Ivory Coast Team Site and Team Guide

North Korea Team Site and Team Guide

Match Previews:

Official FIFA Match Preview:

"We wanted to qualify. We've still got a chance, but it's complicated. We'll go out on the pitch with the sole ambition of winning and scoring as many goals as possible - between seven and nine. We'll give everything we have and perhaps we'll end up making it. In football, you never know," Didier Zokora, Côte d'Ivoire defender.

"Our last defeat was painful. What went against us in the Portugal game was our lack of concentration. We've tried to stay positive. We need to be ready against Côte d'Ivoire, even if we haven't had much time to prepare as we'd like," An Yong Hak, Korea DPR midfielder.

Fox Sports Preview:

Ivory Coast needs one of the unlikeliest results in World Cup history if it is to prolong its stay at the 2010 tournament.

The Ivorians retain just the slimmest of mathematical chances of qualifying for the last 16 stage.

And there also has to be a nine-goal swing in Ivory Coast's favor - almost inconceivable.

Since the Ivory Coast must score a goal every 10 minutes in this match to have a chance, look for a crazy attacking style from them, but North Korea saw that against Portugal and only gave up 7 goals to a much better team and they will be looking to regain some respect.   This one ends up 4-2 for the Ivory Coast who put up a noble effort but fail to advance.

The final group is Group H, where everyone still has a chance and one team is secure in their place. Only Chile is secure with 6 points a total that two other teams can reach but nobody can pass.  Spain the early favorite to win it all has struggled and has just 3 points, and so does the team that beat them in their opening match Switzerland.  Honduras brings up the bottom of the group with zero points and to advance they would need to win, which would mean they would need to not only score their first goal of the World Cup, but overcome a -3 goal differential.

Switzerland vs. Honduras - 12:30 MT ESPN 2

Well the Swiss found a way to beat Spain, but got beat by Chile, they have only scored their one goal against Spain, but Honduras haven't scored a goal and allowed 1 to Chile and 2 to Spain.  The Swiss have a real chance to advance, but they will need to handle their business and hope Spain can't.

SB Nation Exclusive Content:

Switzerland Team Site and Team Guide

Honduras Team Site and Team Guide

Match Previews:

Official FIFA Match Preview:

"Before it all started, we said we'd definitely need a win against Honduras to make the last sixteen. That remains the case. It's in our own hands. We know we can qualify from the group with a win. I don't think we'll have a problem with motivation," Benjamin Huggel, Switzerland midfielder.

"We can't just attack, attack, and attack some more. We have to be intelligent. They're a good team and they're battling to make the next round. It'll be a good, tight game, and obviously we're hoping Chile beat Spain, and we do what we have to do," Amado Guevara, Honduras captain.

Fox Sports Match Preview:

After toppling Spain in its World Cup opener, Switzerland wouldn't have thought its tournament would be hanging in the balance going into its final Group H match on Friday against Honduras.

The Swiss can still top the group - or finish rock bottom. But the path at least is clear: beat Honduras by two goals at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein and the Swiss are through to the knockout round.

Honduras made it to the World Cup off a goal by the US in their match with Costa Rica, and now they will need to score their own goals if they want to have any chance to advance.  The Swiss are solid, nothing flashy, not powerful, but a solid squad and this match will be one that both side battle for their World Cup lives, but neither side will get the win as I think it will end 1-1.

Chile vs. Spain - 12:30pm MT - ESPN

The final match will feature my team to win it all Spain, against a team that has simply been perfect so far.  No goals allowed for Chile, and that fact has made their two goals scored enough as they won both their matches with 1-0 final scores.  Spain got shocked in their first match a 1-0 loss to the Swiss and rebounded but not impressively against Honduras in their 2-0 win.  Now the team favored by most to win it all, must get a result to have a chance, a win to make sure they advance.

SB Nation Exclusive Content:

Chile Team Site and Team Guide

Spain Team Site and Team Guide

Match Previews:

Official FIFA Match Preview:

"We know that a draw will be enough for Chile, and we also know it's going to be a tricky match, because they are not used to just sitting back and defending. We are confident though," Fernando Torres, Spain forward.

"We always try to take the game to our opponents but sometimes it depends not on what your intentions are but on what the opposition wants to do. We'll try to force the pace against Spain because that's the best way to overcome your opponent in my opinion. And in any case, we are not through yet," Marcelo Bielsa, Chile coach.

Fox Sports Match Preview:

Chile stands in the way of Spain's lofty World Cup hopes, as the European champion goes into its final Group H match on Friday needing victory to secure its spot in the knockout phase.

With both Switzerland and Honduras still in the mix for one of the last two places in the last 16, Spain know it's time to live up to pre-tournament expectations or potentially go home early.

The chips will be on the table for Spain, if they don't win then they will need help, Chile simply need a draw to ensure their place in the next match.  Teams from South America have been very impressive in this World Cup and the teams from Europe have been huge disappointments and this match could and should change that.  Spain find a way to get a 2-1 win and move on to the round of 16.

Well tomorrow is the final chance for teams to impress before the knockout round begins, who will step up and who will go home?  I can't wait to find out.

OFF MY SOAPBOX