After 8 matches featuring 22 goals, 2 extra time sessions, and 1 penalty shootout, we’re done with the Round of 16 and we have our quarterfinalists. Of the 8 teams that have made it this far, 7 won their group, with the US being the lone exception with their defeat to Ghana. With Japan’s elimination the World Cup will either be won by Africa, South America, or Europe. We’ve got a two-day break from the action but once that’s done we have some great matches to look forward to:
Netherlands vs. Brazil (7/2, 10:00 AM ET, ESPN) – The Dutch have been overlooked in this tournament. Quietly they’ve gotten their victories without being flashy or sensational. Arjen Robben could be a handful for Brazil’s defense. Dunga’s side had their most impressive performance of the World Cup when they eased by Chile 3-0.
Ghana vs. Uruguay (7/2, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN) – Africa’s last hope facing the original World Cup winners in Uruguay. The Ghanaians look to become the first ever team from the continent to advance to the semifinals of a World Cup, whilst Uruguay is looking to further the chance of an All-South America final four. Luis Suarez has scored 4 goals in this competition, including a sublime winner against South Korea, but he’ll have a tough goalkeeper to beat in Richard Kingson. Ghana’s speed against Uruguay’s solid defense is a key part of the game to watch for.
Argentina vs. Germany (7/3, 10:00 AM ET, ABC) – This should be a Cup final and not a quarterfinal. Arguably the most impressive teams of the tournament meet again in the quarters. The Germans triumphed on penalties in 2006 in front of their home fans, and the Argentines are looking for revenge. Lionel Messi is going to have to score eventually, right? We know neither team has problems scoring, putting up a combined 19 goals in 8 matches. Something tells me the Germans will not have a stroll in the park like they did against England.
Spain vs. Paraguay (7/3, 2:30 PM ET, ABC) – Least interesting of the games in this round. Spain beat Portugal today 1-0 and Paraguay needed penalties to advance after a dull 0-0 with Japan. Neither team has played particularly impressive football, moreso Spain who love passing more than actual shooting on net. The Paraguayans have not allowed a goal from free play this tournament, but have only put up 3 goals. I think this match is most likely to end up in a penalty shootout. There is no shame for the Paraguayans if they do lose, as this is the furthest they’ve ever been in the competition.
Check back here for the live-blog of Uruguay vs. Ghana on Friday! Will South America’s dominance continue? Only time will tell.