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Europe Takes on Africa in Elimination Games: 2014 World Cup Day 18 Open Thread

It's win-or-go-home time in the World Cup as we tune in for the third day of Round of 16 action in the knock-out stages of the World Cup, with two European powerhouse teams, France and Germany, taking on two African teams looking to make some history, Nigeria and Algeria, in today's matches.

Ian Walton

We're just one day away from when our boys in Red, White, and Blue return to the field to take on the Red Devils of Belgium.  Today, however, we get our football fix started with a different set of boys in red, white, and blue - Les Bleus of France, who will take on the African Cup of Nations winner - the Super Eagles of Nigeria.  Led by the Chelsea duo of John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses (on loan with hated Liverpool) and West Bromich Albion Cardiff City Stoke City's Peter Odemwingie, the Super Eagles are looking to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in their history.  Standing in their way is a French team laden with top-tier players with top-tier clubs (Hugo Lloris, Patrice Evra, Raphael Varane, Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema, among others), who are out to prove that the 2010 World Cup disaster is a distant memory.

The Nigerians just barely escaped Group F with a single point more than a talented Bosnian side, and they've been rewarded with a Round of 16 match against one of the tournament favorites. But as Chile and Mexico have shown us so far, the underdogs can give the big-time sides a real scare - so far, the favorites have scrapped by (Brazil winning in a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out, the Netherlands grabbing a late win off a beautiful Wesley Sneijder goal and a converted PK following a clear-cut foul by Rafa Marquez).  Can Nigeria buck that trend and pull off a massive upset?  We'll see this morning, with the game kicking off at 9 a.m. PST on ESPN.

Following the Nigeria-France show-down, our second European vs. African affair features one of the tournament's favorites, Germany, versus a surprising Algeria squad that advanced through their free-scoring attack (6 goals scored in the group stage).  But, the Germans are an even more efficient scoring machine (notching 7 times in the Group of Death) and will be sure to punish a sloppy Algerian back-line (which conceded 5 goals in their 3 group stage matches).  Like the Nigerians, they are also looking for their first trip to the World Cup quarterfinals ever, and will be led by Tottenham's Nabil Bentaleb and Sporting CP's Islam Slimani.  They'll have a tall task ahead of them, with die Mannschaft lining up the impressive quartet of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, and Toni Kroos in the attack, with a stiff defense led by Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, and Per Mertesacker.  That game gets underway in the afternoon at 1 p.m. PST on ESPN.

If the favorites both advance as expected, then we'll have the age-old battle between France and Germany this upcoming Friday. Insert your rifle-dropping France joke here.  Of course, the last time the French didn't roll over and surrender to the Germans on a football field, they were led by a certain French-Algerian midfielder, so perhaps the Fennec Foxes can find some Zizou magic - which of course, would set up a rather less-than-friendly France-Algeria tie.  And just to drive the point home - Zidane is awesome - and he'll head-butt you if you don't agree.

And yes, that was a whole big round-about way of finding an excuse to insert a GIF of Zidane head-butting someone.  It's the World Cup - it's time for GIFs of Rafa Marquez cheating, an Englishman choking on a penalty kickBrazilians dancing after scoring, and of course, Luis Suarez biting someone!

We're just one day away from taking on Belgium, a land that many Americans are all too familiar with, a friendly land of chocolate, beer, waffles, and french fries (hey, a lot of our favorite things!), so to keep you hyped up:

Alright folks, it's time to tune in to see if the underdogs can finally find their way through to the Round of 16 in a World Cup that has really broken the script so far.  Fire away with your thoughts, analysis, and opinions as you tune in.