World Cup predictions: Stevie Nicol on the money to start the knockout rounds in style

The round of 16 begins on Saturday and it is all about who will make it through to the quarterfinals and be in with a chance of being crowned the ESPN World Cup predictions king or queen.

The 10 pundits with the best average score after this round will go on to contest for the overall predictions crown. You can see how they stand after the group stage, and remember to join the pundits' league in Match Predictor.

We've got our top talent on hand from England, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Australia and Africa -- many of whom will be based out in Russia for the tournament -- to analyse each and every one of the 64 matches.

We score our experts just as we do in the Match Predictor -- 10 points for correct result, with a bonus 20 points for getting the scoreline right too.

The first game of the day is the main attraction and sees France take on Argentina. Maybe we call this one Paul Pogba vs. Lionel Messi?

France entered the tournament as one of the favourites but never did hit top gear during the group stage, carving out two narrow victories and settling for a goalless draw with Denmark. Argentina's group performance was even worse, as La Albiceleste needed a late goal from unlikely hero Marcos Rojo to book their place in the knockout rounds.

In terms of our experts picks, it's almost split down the middle. Four of our experts, including ESPN Argentina's Nicolas Baier and France correspondent Julien Laurens, fancy Lionel Messi and Co. to turn it up a notch and upset Les Bleus. Six on the other hand side with the French, Steve Nicol calling for a 2-1 French victory while Alex Pareja and Colin Udoh opt for a more comfortable 3-1 scoreline.

One thing is for sure, this one figures to be a fascinating affair.

UPDATE: So much for the knockouts being cagey! France outlasts Argentina in a 4-3 thriller as 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe steals the show.

As we prefaced, our experts were pretty split on this one -- six experts pick up the 10 points while four start the day empty-handed. No one had seven goals in their scoreline prediction but Stewart Robson, Steve Nicol, Rafa Ramos, Alex Pareja, Ricardo Puig and Colin Udoh all pick up 10 points thanks to Les Bleus' victory.

Let's see how our experts fare predicting Portugal and Uruguay.

The round of 16's second game is another doozy with Uruguay up against Portugal, or Luis Suarez vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo has lit up the World Cup thus far but against a stingy Uruguay side -- that has yet to concede a goal -- only one of our experts, Ricardo Puig, backs "Ronny" and Portugal to get the victory. Four pundits led by Gab Marcotti (1-0) and Rafa Ramos (3-1) back the South Americans while the five others believe this match will end level and be decided on penalties.

If Ronaldo delivers more of his big-game heroics and leads Portugal to a pre-shootout victory, Ricardo could be sitting pretty at the top of our table after Day 1.

UPDATE: Uruguay and Portugal play out another quality game at this World Cup, as Edinson Cavani's two-goal heroics lift Uruguay past Portugal by a score of 2-1.

Four of experts tabbed La Celeste to win but only Stevie Nicol nailed the exact 2-1 scoreline for the 20-point bonus. Given that the Ex-Liverpool man also predicted France's win over Argentina, Nicol is your daily winner with an impressive 40 points from two games.

Today we lost Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo what could tomorrow have in store for an encore?

One thing is for sure, our experts will be back with more predictions. Spain vs. Russia and Croatia vs. Denmark are up next.