|Connelly’s Top Ten: Koufax Vs. Gibson / Post 20 K / Legos||Red Sox – Dodgers Trade Rumor: Jon Lester for Matt Kemp?||Patriots Training Camp Notes: Tom Brady Sees Fewer Reps||Red Sox Trade Rumors: AJ Pierzynski to Cardinals, Jon Lester to…|
I know it’s disappointing. The USA did not pass what was seemingly an easy challenge against Ghana. Still, do not get discouraged with the World Cup. There is still plenty of great football… err… soccer, to be played! What If I told you there were two matchups happening that were worthy of the finals?
That’s what we have with the quarterfinals, some potentially great matchups against pre-tournament favorites. So dust off your vuvuzela, because the World Cup continues. And some of these matchups are a doozy.
If this was the final match, no one would have been surprised. Both teams have an excellent soccer history and have played brilliantly this World Cup. It is almost a shame that one of these teams will have to go home early, but that’s the luck of the draw. While most of you will think Brazil will crush the Dutch, do not underestimate the men in orange.
The Netherlands cruised through Group Play before facing a formidable foe with Slovakia. Arjen Robben is the difference maker for the Dutch and can beat any goalie including Julio Cesar, who many feel is the best in the world. Brazil came into the World Cup with their foot on the gas and have yet to let up. With guys like Maicon, Kaka, Dani Alves and Luis Fabiano, they are equipped with some of the best players in the world. The Brazilians are creative, deadly and can strike without notice.
Both teams are experienced at taking advantage of mistakes. Any crack can, and will be exploited. History is on the side of the Brazillians, who lead every other country with five World Cups. The Netherlands may not have one, as they were runner ups twice, but this could be the year the cup goes from gold to orange. The Netherlands 2 – Brazil 1.
Neither team was favorites to make it this far, or even win last week’s games, but now one will be one game closer to their dream. The players on both sides are not household names. Uruguay might have won the World Cup twice before, but they are not the powerhouse they were back in 1950. This year, it’s two squads that are happy to be here and it should make for some great soccer.
Ghana is coming off a stunning defeat of the USA, but who says it was unexpected. Remember it was four years ago when Ghana knocked the US out of the last World Cup. As far as they’re concerned, it’s just history repeating itself. Uruguay continued their run of excellent play thanks to Luis Suarez. His two goals were the difference and now Uruguay finds themselves in a quarterfinals, where they haven’t been in 40 years.
Two things come to mind with this matchup. First, only one of the five South Americans teams in the World Cup have lost. That was Chile, and they lost to Brazil. So, South American squads know how to play soccer. Uruguay will be the favorites. However, there is the home field factor. I know it’s South Africa, which is several hundred miles from Ghana, but Africa wants Africa to win. It doesn’t matter which nation it could have been. Now Ghana is the only African nation left and they will have the support they will need to get by. Ghana 3 – Uruguay 1.
It’s a matchup of a former two-time champion, Argentina, versus a former three-time winner, Germany (well they were West Germany at the time). Also, these two split World Cup finals matches. In 1986, Argentina won their most recent World Cup in a 3-2 victory in Mexico. Four years later, Germany got revenge after a 1-0 win in Italy. Four years ago, these teams were in the same place, the quarterfinals; where Germany won in penalty kicks. They are two clubs that don’t like each other, so expect a heated matchup.
Overshadowing his team, Diego Maridona has coached the Argentine’s to perfection. His antics and manhugs have may have stolen the spot light, but his team has stolen the tournament. An impressive, albeit controversial, win over Mexico showed that Argentina will run over any opponent. With the Germans, they were supposed to be a young team in transition. However, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller are proving German to be cup contenders. An expected classic matchup against England turned into a 4-1 German victory and has put Germany in familiar territory.
Germany is making a tremendous run and they will not be backed down by Maradona and Argentina. Each side knows how to score and the ball will be flying. The key is Lionel Messi. He is said to be fighting a cold, but if he can recover and get things going, there will be no stopping Argentina. Argentina 3 – Germany 2.
Paraguay made it by the skin of their teeth. Their win against Japan was nothing to celebrate. The could not score against the Asian powerhouse and escaped in the shootout when a Japanese shot hit the crossbar. Now they get the chance to play against Spain, who some people think could win the whole thing. Spain’s previous best was a fourth place finish in 1950. This year they expect much more.
David Villa and Fernando Torres are dangerous strikers. Villa has been one of the best players in the tournament and is one goal away from being Spain’s all time goal scorer, surpassing Spanish legend Raul. Paraguay is a collection of South American style players, meaning flashy, but they are also prone to more mistakes then their other continent compadres. They were lucky to win their group, mainly because Italy collapsed. If they don’t play out of their minds, they will be going home.
It’s hard to say Paraguay will put up a fight. They have the South American pedigree, but Spain seems to be on a mission. They sent Christiano Rinaldo and Portugal home early and will look to do the same to Paraguay. If there is going to be a blowout this round, this is the game. Spain 5 – Paraguay 1.