World Cup 2010

Quarter Final Showdowns

It’s been an excitingly unpredictable tournament so far, but as we get closer to the finals the competition is getting tougher and the games are becoming harder to call. Here are some thoughts about the next round in South Africa, which will be played out over the coming few days:

Netherlands v Brazil

Neither of these teams seem to me to have really thrown it down yet. Both have managed to progress to this stage without playing their best and with it seeming like they were always holding something back in reserve. Well, tomorrow these teams have to face their toughest opponents yet. I can’t call this one, as Robben’s return for Netherlands definitely makes them seem stronger than they did at the beginning a few weeks back. Brazil, on the other hand, have to be favoured here if you’re betting on the outcome. The question for me is whether we’ll see either side risk much to seize the lead, or if this will be a tentative and probing match where they both try not to get beaten or make big mistakes. Either way, a contender for the Cup advances from this game.

Uruguay v Ghana

I’m excited that either one of these teams will be advancing to a semi-final game. They’ve both played well so far, though I’d have to give the advantage to Uruguay because they’ve shown more capacity for attack and are just as resilient in defense. You have to hand it to Ghana, they really stepped it up to beat the USA in the last round. As the last African team standing, they’re my underdog heroes going forward.

Argentina v Germany

Another battle of titans.  The safe bet would be on Argentina, who have shown some real potency in scoring and no major weaknesses in their defending. As they’ve already proven several times so far, it would be foolish to write off this German team. They are young, they haven’t been given much chance to win it, but Saturday’s game will put it on the line for them. Argentina will easily be the toughest opponent Germany has faced. The loss to Serbia aside, the Germans have looked good for the fight. I’m going to say that Germany halt Maradonna’s march for the Cup.

Paraguay v Spain

Pleasurable as it was to watch Spain defeat Portugal, the mighty Rojas were disappointing in that match. The score could have been much higher than 1-0 for Spain, yet it seemed like they tried to keep it sportingly close for their Iberian rivals. Like the Dutch and the Brazilians, you get the sense that Spain has yet to pop their game into a higher gear. The Paraguayans have been playing extremely well thus far, but it would be a David over Goliath conquest for them to topple Spain. I think it’ll be a close first half, but that Spain will open it up for a sure victory in the second.

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