The final day of Round of 16 action features two ties that look finely poised and a third in which Italy appear to be clear favourites, although they will have no room for complacency against their seasoned opponents. FIFA.com previews the fixtures.
Match of the day
Argentina-Ukraine, Bucaramanga, 17:30 (local time)
This one is nigh on impossible to call on paper, especially when the teams' respective group-stage showings are taken into account. While it is true that Argentina topped their section, they did not run away with it by any measure, having to battle past Solomon Islands and being held to a draw by Costa Rica.
Ukraine's route to the last 16 was similarly challenging. Indeed, even in defeat to Brazil, they showed the trademark ruggedness and well-drilled defence that make them so difficult to break down.
The countries' head-to-head record is just as evenly matched. Both previous meetings ended all square, with a scoreless draw at Chinese Taipei 2004 being followed by a 2-2 stalemate at Brazil 2008, although it is worth noting that neither came in the knockout action.
The other matches
Thus far, Italy have been able to find an extra gear whenever required in all of their encounters. Granted, their only truly comprehensive win came against Guatemala, but beneath the surface of their broadly workmanlike form lies a huge reserve of potential that has yet to be fully unleashed here. Egypt, who have struggled to build on a storming start, know all too well what the *Azzurri *are capable of: the teams faced off at the same stage at Thailand 2012 and the Europeans cruised through 5-1.
Speaking of Thailand, they are primed for a clash of contrasting styles against Azerbaijan, with the former known for their dynamic, attack-minded brand of football, while the latter's game is founded upon defensive organisation and a more 'safety-first' approach. Having got this far four years ago, the Asians may feel they have a slight edge over their more inexperienced opponents.
Player to watch
Jirawat Sornwichian (Thailand)**
Although it is Suphawut Thueanklang who has attracted most of the spotlight for Thailand, Sornwichian has also scored four times, albeit with one key difference: he alone has struck in all three of his country's matches, and he has also served up an assist. This combination could hold one of the keys to unlocking a resolute Azeri defence.
The stat 70% -Between them, Vassoura (four) and Thiago Bolinha (three) are responsible for 70% of Azerbaijan's goals to date. Will Thailand be able to nullify their threat?
"They're a good team – they're through to this stage for the second time in a row. From what we've seen, they have some interesting individuals. They've got technically gifted players who are tough to deal with when they get one-on-one. We will have to be mindful of that and take to the court full of determination." Italy coach Roberto Menichelli
Thursday 22 September
Argentina-Ukraine (17:30, Coliseo Bicentenario, Bucaramanga)
Thailand-Azerbaijan (17:30, Coliseo Ivan de Bedout, Medellin
Italy-Egypt (20:00, Coliseo el Pueblo, Cali)
All times local