10:00 AM- Netherlands vs. Brazil
What a matchup. It is kinda a shame that we could not get this for the semifinals, but if you ask me, this is the de facto semifinal as neither Uruguay nor Ghana will beat neither team. I am on record as not trusting the Dutch defense and picking Brazil, you you probably know where I am going with this pick, but just for argument’s sake, allow me to make a case for the Dutch,
They are a balanced attacking side that can beat you in any number of ways and have done so throughout the tournament. They have the bona fide goal scoring striker to terrorize the central defenders in Robin van Persie. They have a winger that can tear inside and rip it with his left or right in Arjen Robben, not to mention that he has been in phenomenal form. They have Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings in a Iniesta/Fabregas role where he runs the attack like Xavi, but also can put it in the net like an Iniesta or Fabregas. He is outstanding and has winning in his system already after his Champions Leage Winner’s Medal with Inter. They also have Dirk Kuyt to do whatever Dirk Kuyt does. I have never really understood his appeal. So he plays off Gerrard at Liverpool, is not really a striker, and is not really a two-way midfielder? So what is he? He is pretty decent and an extra piece, but not on the same level as van Persie, Sneijder, or Robben. They have all the attacking power to make Brazil hurt, and they very well might do that. The defense has been a concern, but if Stekelenburg can make a few quality saves and the back four can stand strong when they need to, the Dutch could very easily waltz into the finals.
Will it happen? Nope. Maicon/Bastos will certainly be limited by their concern about Robben, but they will put pressure on the Dutch defenders to supplement the already potent attacking combinations of Kaka, Robinho, Fabiano and co. Missing Elano did not appear to hurt them against Chile, but having Felipe Melo back as the defending midfielder will be big to slow down the Dutch attack and feed the attack. I think Brazil undresses the Dutch defenders a few times and wins a match whose scoreline looks closer than it really is.
Brazil 3-2 Netherlands
2:30 PM- Uruguay vs. Ghana
My love affair with Uruguay is also fairly well documented, and I do not see it stopping now. Ghana is a solid team, and they have done well to get this far, but they were gifted a goal against the US and just did not look especially impressive against a pretty slow US back line. If Essien was here, it would be a different story, but he is not, which leaves Diego Forlan as the best player on the field by a fairly large margin. To my estimation, the next best player is Luis Suarez. Now, if Ghana is to overcome Uruguay while not having either of the 2 best player on the field, the other 9 guys had better significantly outstrip Uruguay’s 9. I say no way. The South Americans are ready for this and will beat the lone African team remaining. That makes it an All-South-American Semifinal, with the potential for either 4 South American teams or 3 South American teams and Spain in the final four. That would be pretty amazing. Uruguay wins and earns a frankly deserved spot in the Semis.
And if it was USA-Uruguay, I still would have picked Uruguay.
Uruguay 2-0 Ghana