Germany's Miroslav Klose, right, congratulates Thomas Mueller after he scored the opening goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014.
Still reeling from the World Cup's epic knockout-stage onslaught this weekend? You'd better recharge quick, because the fun, heartbreak and all-around excitement starts back up Monday at 12 p.m. ET.
The third day of round-of-16 match-ups pits a pair of traditional European powers against a pair of upstarts from Africa.
Both France and Germany are among the planet's exclusive group of only eight nations to ever win a World Cup titles (France in 1998; Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990). If either Nigeria or Algeria can pull off an upset to reach the quarterfinals, meanwhile, they'd enter uncharted World Cup territory.
France vs. Nigeria starts things of at 12 p.m. ET from Brasilia, followed by Germany vs. Algeria at 4 p.m. ET from Porto Alegre. Read on for the primer you need to get ready for Monday's World Cup action.
France vs. Nigeria
Through its first two group-stage matches, France looked like a beast uncaged, on the warpath to redemption after a disastrous 2010 effort. Les Bleus opened by shutting out Honduras, 3-0, then followed that up by putting a 5-2 shellacking on Switzerland, Group E's runner-up.
With the group already won and nothing really to play for, France then looked sluggish and disorganized in its group-stage finale, struggling to a 0-0 draw with Ecuador. Was that simply the product of a powerful team looking ahead to the knockout rounds? Or was it indicative that this squad may not be quite as awesome as it initially appeared?
Monday's matchup with Nigeria will reveal a lot. France strives to push forward aggressively, with midfielders like the young Paul Pogba putting pressure on opposing defenses, defender Patrice Evra venturing into the the attack and striker Karim Benzema capable of finishing as well as anyone in the tournament. Nigeria loves to counterattack though, and has the speed to do so effectively — so France must be wary of leaving its defense vulnerable while pressing for scores.
Nigeria's overall speed is dangerous. A pay dispute that created a distraction last week now appears resolved, so the Super Eagles should be entirely focused on the task at hand. Forward Emmanuel Emenike has been especially impressive in Brazil, prompting reports that he'll be courted by some of Europe's top clubs. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, meanwhile, didn't allow a score through Nigeria's first two matches, until the incomparable Lionel Messi pounded home a couple in the Super Eagles' Group F finale.
Nigeria is a quality side, no doubt. But France has had flashes of brilliance in Brazil — we expect the flat performance against Ecuador to be a simple hiccup — and looks capable of making a run to the final. France's overall quality and depth will prove too much, in our best guess, sending Nigeria home with a 2-1 final score.
Germany vs. Algeria
In one corner, a top favorite to win this year's World Cup. In the other corner, a team that just barely slipped by Burkina Faso in an Africa-region playoff to qualify for the World Cup. But you don't reach the knockout-stage by being a total pushover, and this Algeria squad has some life to it despite backing into the World Cup field.
Les Fennecs (named after the adorable fennec fox, which is native to northern Africa) put four goals on South Korea — but then again, South Korea didn't win a match in Group H. Algeria also tied with Russia and lost by just one goal to Belgium to finish second in the group with four total points. Islam Slimani scored two of Algeria's six total group-stage goals.
While Algeria lacks a household name, Germany is loaded with them. Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Özil, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze ... the list goes on. But that star-studded roster hasn't had a totally smooth ride so far. Germany looked incredible in dispatching Portugal 4-0 to start the World Cup, then had to fight for a tough draw with Ghana and a 1-0 win over the gritty U.S. to take a lethal Group G.
Germany plays an aesthetically pleasing brand of offensive-minded football, and will seek an explosive performance to begin the knockout stage with momentum. While one never knows in the World Cup, Algeria looks incapable of providing much resistance and we foresee Germany coming out on top with a 3-0 final score.