Before getting to today’s games, let’s talk about the two outstanding games from Day One. In the first, Brazil undressed the Dutch with a simple ball up the middle and grasped an early lead. The game leveled out, but then Julio Cesar and Felipe Melo combined for the kind of gaffe you never see out of Brazil. Sneijder played a ball in, and Cesar goes to punch it, but misses it. Melo heads it backwards and it is 1-1, marking the first Brazilian own goal ever. Right then, Brazil capitulated. They didn’t have the spark anymore and just gave up. It was pretty disappointing in the sense that we expected good stuff out of a well-seasoned Brazil squad, but it will be nice to see some new blood in the finals. It was pretty well summed up by Felipe Melo’s blatant red card. They were frustrated and done. Completely unbecoming of a champion. The Dutch definitely got some breaks, but we expect better of Brazil. The Dutch face a manageable Semifinal, but have work to do if they want to win it all.
This video is worth way more than 1000 words.
In that Semifinal, the Dutch will be facing Uruguay, who escaped by the hair on their chinny chin chin. It wasn’t the most beautiful game, but the best of it came late. The troublesome Muntari put Ghana ahead with a venomous strike in the first half stoppage time, but Diego Forlan answered 10 minutes into the second half with a masterful free kick of his own. It would stay that way until the 120th minute. Ghana wins a free kick and the announcers say it will be the last action of the match. If only they knew. Ghana swings it in, and a little game of pinball breaks out in the box. The ball goes ding ding ding around hitting everything but the back of the net until it falls to a Ghanaian player who puts it higher and on frame. Luis Suarez, who was standing on the goal line covering for his exposed keeper, had no choice. He had to bat it down with his hand and get the automatic red card and give Ghana a penalty kick at the last. Weeping as he went down the tunnel, Suarez almost missed something that could cure all his tears. Gyan lined it up, prepared for glory, and schtoinked it off the top of the bar. Straight up missed it. To slightly alter a Scott Van Pelt occasionally heard on Sportscenter, “Bless his heart he must be the sickest man in the world.”
There it went. Ghana’s golden chance fell to the wayside. I can only imagine how heavy the pressure on Gyan felt as he approached the ball, and cannot even come close to imagining the feeling after it went high.
After that, as we all know, Uruguay won the penalty kicks through some good saves and a cheeky finish by Sebastian Abreu to sink Ghana. Gyan, to his credit, absolutely hammered his penalty into the upper 90, but it was all for naught. Uruguay moves on, and while they are lucky to make it with their lives, they are the official Cinderella of the World Cup thanks to their phenomenal strikers and clutch defending, not to mention a touch of magic. They will certainly be fighting an uphill battle when they face the Netherlands without Suarez, but they have made it this far and that is an achievement in itself.
Alright, now that we have that taken care of…
10:00 AM- Argentina vs. Germany
Now that Brazil is out, I am saying that the winner of the tournament comes from this game. Either Argentina’s phenomenal skill level and battle hardening from the South American qualifying takes over and takes them to the top, or Germany’s young talent continues to gel and they run Argentina off the pitch in the counter-attack. I am completely unsure who is going to win to be honest. It is hard to say after yesterday’s phenomenal games, but this match has the potential to be even more. The teams do not really like each other, Germany will be playing to show that “Argentina are classless” (paraphrasing), and Argentina’s Lionel Messi will be playing for his favorite band (Oasis) to avenge England’s loss (Story here). What more could you want? The skill level will be off the charts, the competitiveness will probably overflow at least once, and it will take a virtuoso performance out of someone to win it.
Even though South America took a hit when Brazil went out, I am going to stay with the South American trend. I think Germany can hold down Messi just enough, and Mueller and Ozil will give Argentine defenders nightmares, but I think the steady guys like Javier Mascherano combine with the fire and brimstone play of Tevez to give Argentina a famous win against the German machine. Thomas Mueller will get a goal, and Klose might add another, but I think Argentina finds a way to win it.
The only thing I would be surprised by would be Germany getting blown out. Argentina loses big some time, and both teams are very good, but Germany just will not get blown out, so on that side, they have a slight advantage. However, this pick is a complete coin flip, so don’t put a dime on it.
Argentina 3-2 Germany
2:30 PM- Paraguay vs. Spain
See how much we already have about the other games so far? Thank goodness for this one. Portugal was the toughest test Spain will face defensively all Cup and they were able to crack that nut. After that, no defense should be too talented for them. One might get lucky,but they will not get outclassed by any defense left in the tournament. Spain’s talent level is on another level, and anything other than a win for Spain would be a national disgrace. Paraguay is tough and has done well to make it this far, but they got the easiest group, anda one of the easier draws in the Round of 16. Spain is a different animal, and it is not an animal they are ready to deal with. Good run, Paraguay, but Spain rolls on. Expect Villa to score and Torres to disappoint.
Paraguay 0-2 Spain