204 teams wanted to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but now only 8 are left who have a chance to actually do it. The Round of 16 did not produce many surprises and few upsets, so the question now is whether the top dogs of world football can continue to advance against their rivals. Of course, with so few teams left, almost every team remaining is of high caliber, so none of these matches should be blowouts. Here are my previews of each game.
Netherlands vs. Brazil: Dunga is getting a lot of dung flung on him by the media and fans in his home country who believe the Brazilians must not only win World Cup matches by large margins, but also with the nation’s signature style. Meanwhile, the team that has really been winning ugly during this entire tournament is the Dutch (aka “Clockwork Orange”), who have played well but not shined. I like Brazil to win this one in an overtime thriller, 2-1.
Uruguay vs. Ghana: The Black Stars bested the Yanks fair and square last Saturday, but they will now face a very tough, defensive opponent in Uruguay, and the question is whether they can continue to represent their continent respectably on the world’s biggest stage. Personally, I think Uruguay’s gritty style of play will suit them well against the African athletes, and I predict a 1-0 Uruguay victory. Then again, I did bet against Ghana last round as well.
Argentina vs. Germany: Maradona’s men have probably been the talk of the tournament so far because of their charisma and competitive edge on the pitch. Eventually, Messi is going to find the net and when he does I would not be surprised if the smell of it leads him to score again and again. Germany though has been a very talented team at this tournament, so the smart money may be on the “underdogs.” I think Argentina is destined to win 2-1 though.
Paraguay vs. Spain: The Red Fury have not overly impressed most observers at the Cup this far with their precision passing approach, which has sometimes looked more homely than comely. Meanwhile, Paraguay may be the tournament’s Cinderella (other than perhaps Ghana) and I would not be surprised if the sons of South America give Europe’s elite team a run for its money. In the end though, I think Spain will survive this match by a 1-0 margin.