No more USA, but eight countries to go … tomorrow and Saturday the four quarterfinal matches play out. As my previous post indicated, my final four of Uruguay, Brazil, Spain and Germany is still alive. That said – true odds?
Uruguay vs Ghana: The coolest story of the World Cup now. After breaking my heart by beating the United States, Ghana is holding up the hopes of a continent. Ghana has not scored in the run of play yet against a decent defense – this worries me. But they have finishing zip, as the hustle strike in OT against the US showed. Uruguay is a very solid defense that has been very good when they have stayed positive. Alvarez’ goal to beat South Korea was magic – I want to believe in Ghana but I can’t. Home field does funny things though – but Uruguay ought to be in the final four. Whether it be Sweden in 1994, Croatia in 1998, South Korea in 2002 … it always seems like an upstart is going to make a big run. This quarterfinal will produce it either way.
Brazil vs The Netherlands: The Netherlands has been labeling this matchup for a long time. The two teams played a classic in 1994. Brazil just destroyed Chile in the previous round – but the Netherlands will not be outmanned, and they are built to counterattack. That said, like 1994, this Brazil team is more pragmatic and capable of suffocating the middle of the field.
Argentina vs Germany: The 1986 and 1990 finals rematch. Argentina’s talent and Maradona’s personality has meshed well. Messi has not scored but he has dominated. Tevez, Heinze – it’s scary. Hell, the hero of the Champions League final does not even start for them. They are scoring with such ease. They rattled a young side in Mexico – and Germany is young here. However, Germany’s quick strike counterattack is the exact style to beat Argentina. Against England, every German run looked dangerous – they fill the lanes so much, just a more entertaining German side than ever before. Germany can do it. I already said they would.
Spain vs Paraguay: I am not sure how Paraguay is here. On paper this is the mismatch of the quarterfinals. Spain after losing to Switzerland early has stepped the pace up. They have that combination of pragmatism and creativity that lets them possess without being silly. They have an ability to score directly that they did not have in 2006. They showed it in 2008 at the European Championship. Paraguay got here by outlasting a Japanese team (which had more offensive power) in a pretty dull affair. Spain stays composed and suffocates Paraguay.