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SPAIN

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THE SPANIARDS win their second World Cup in three cycles by relying on an experienced core balancing solid D (goalkeeper David De Gea; centerbacks Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué), a masterly midfield (Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Thiago) and an emerging front line (Marco Asensio, Isco, Diego Costa). Their ball control wears out defending champ Germany in the semis and then, in the final, Belgium, which outlasts a slew of talented teams in the Red Devils' half of the draw: Brazil (upset by Mexico), France (which has at least one stinker every five games) and Uruguay. Ultimately, the teamwide strength of Spain prevails in a tournament of surprises over the individual stardom of Brazil's Neymar, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi (out in the group stage).

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ROUND OF 16

1A URUGUAY vs 2B PORTUGAL

QUARTERFINAL

URUGUAY vs FRANCE

ROUND OF 16

1C FRANCE vs 2D ICELAND

SEMIFINAL

URUGUAY vs BELGIUM

ROUND OF 16

1E BRAZIL vs 2F MEXICO

QUARTERFINAL

MEXICO vs BELGIUM

ROUND OF 16

1G BELGIUM vs 2H SENEGAL

FINAL

BELGIUM vs SPAIN

THIRD-PLACE GAME

GERMANY over URUGUAY

ROUND OF 16

1B SPAIN vs 2A RUSSIA

SPAIN vs CROATIA

QUARTERFINAL

ROUND OF 16

1D CROATIA vs 2C DENMARK

SPAIN vs GERMANY

SEMIFINAL

ROUND OF 16

1F GERMANY vs 2E SWITZERLAND

GERMANY vs ENGLAND

QUARTERFINAL

ROUND OF 16

1H COLOMBIA vs 2G ENGLAND