5 Fearless Predictions for This Week at the World Cup

Set-piece goal surge will slow

PHOTO: Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast takes a free kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Cote DIvoire at Estadio Nacional on June 19, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Adam Pretty/Getty Images
PHOTO: Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast takes a free kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Cote D'Ivoire at Estadio Nacional on June 19, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.

This World Cup has seen a surge of goals, about one in five of them from set pieces -- corner kicks, free kicks, any play that begins after the previous one was halted by the referee's whistle. That, though, is about to change.

As we enter the third round of group games and then the knockout round, teams are beginning to come together defensively and organized defenses can usually snuff out these chances, even as the teams trying to execute them get better in kind.

Brazil will shock the world

PHOTO: Neymar of Brazil looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 17, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
PHOTO: Neymar of Brazil looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 17, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Brazil and Argentina were the bookmakers' pre-tournament favorites to reach the final. So far, neither has inspired much confidence it will fulfill expectations. And while there's a good argument that Brazil, like neighbors Argentina, will only get better in time, the hosts have a much more difficult road ahead.

Assuming they advance, which is no lock -- a shock loss to Cameroon could end their World Cup by Monday night -- the Brazilians will mostly likely play either Holland or Chile in their first elimination game. Pick your poison.

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