Half of the sweet 16 cast is complete. Raise your hand if you had Mexico, Chile, Greece and Costa Rica, who represent half of the qualifiers so far. With your other hand, reach into your pocket and dig out cash to buy a lottery ticket -- because you are on a roll.
The unpredictability of this freakish World Cup offers hope to four middling-at-best teams -- Switzerland, Ecuador, Nigeria and Iran -- lacing up Wednesday in the final matches of Groups E and F. Bosnia-Herzegovina (officially) and Honduras (unofficially) have no hope of advancement, while front-runners France and Argentina seek to hold their places so they can avoid each other in the ensuing round.
Group E: France has wrapped one hand and three fingers around first place. Even with a loss to Ecuador, it probably holds on to the spot thanks to a substantial edge in goal difference. The French have piled up eight goals, three by Karim Benzema, while all three of Ecuador's belong to Enner Valencia.
Switzerland begins the day with a slight disadvantage on goal difference to Ecuador but with a more welcome opponent. Honduras has been outscored 5-1. But if Ecuador records the latest upset, the Swiss are toast.
Group F: Nigeria needs only a point against Argentina to tag along into the next round, which is doable. The Nigerians have yet to grant a goal (while managing but one themselves), and the underwhelming Argentines have been bailed out twice on scores by the incomparable Lionel Messi.
A 1-0 Iran win over Bosnia, which would require the Iranians to pick up their first goal of the tournament, and a same-score victory by Argentina would necessitate an oddity -- drawing lots to break a tie in the standings. Nigeria and Iran, who drew 0-0, would wind up with the same record, same goal difference and same goals scored.Copyright © 2015, CT Now