Saturday, June 28, 2014

Knockout Rounds Begin

The World Cup resumes today - the business end of the tournament. The contestants are interesting - the group stages ended with a nice mix of favorites and surprises, with pre-tourney dark horses delivering and plenty of drama. I managed to pick 6 of the group winners; 10/16 total; a few of the misses were ambiguous ones. I picked Spain over Holland for fairly arbitrary reasons - I thought one of the two would fail, and just got the wrong one. The same happened in group D - there I even said it - either England or Italy could flame out, maybe both. I wish I'd gone with that thought... It is very nice to see Costa Rica advancing; teams like Greece and Nigeria and Algeria are cool underdog stories; and the USA overcame a very tough group to sneak into the next round. Setting up an interesting bunch of games.

Brazil v. Chile - this should be a lively game; it would be very cool to see Chile win, though I find it unlikely; Brazil is likely to get tougher as the tournament goes, not just because of the crowds and the potentially cowardly refs.

Columbia v Uruguay - Columbia has looked as good as anyone; Uruguay has been the Luis Suarez show, for good and, in the end, mostly ill. While resentment and self-pity can take you a ways in a game like this, I don;t think it will be enough.

France v Nigeria - Nigeria played fairly well in the group games, though in the end, they are in the sec one round because of the refs blowing an offside call against Bosnia. France has been running roughshod over some average opponents, so I expect them to handle Nigeria pretty well.

Germany v Algeria - Germany should be Germany; Algeria isn't Germany.

Holland v Mexico - While Holland has looked good, especially up front, this one has potential for trouble - Mexico has also looked very good; Ochoa stands on his head again, and Mexico could get out of this. I suspect Holland will win, but Mexico should give them a game.

Costa Rica v Greece - the minnow game; one of them will be in the quarters! Costa Rica has looked genuinely good so far, and I expect them to win this one too. Then - they aren't impossible odds to knock someone else off as well. Semi-finalists, Costa Rica? not likely, but not impossible.

Argentina v Switzerland - While Argentina are close to co-favorites, the have not played like favorites. They have played like Leo and the other guys. They look weak in the back - they seem far too dependent on Messi - everything goes through Messi - defenses can gang up on Messi. That won't stop them, if the other teams can't score, because Messi will get his - he seems to have come to play - but sooner or later someone will be able to put 3 on them, and that could be the end. Switzerland? is not impossible - they seem happy to attack - though that seems more likely to give Argentina the chance to put up a 4-2 win.

Belgium v US - hard to know what to think about Belgium; have they shown toughness in wearing down teams that have played to frustrate them? or have they floundered against mediocrity? Well, we should find out - the US won't park the bus (and if they do, they're likely to forget to set the emergency brake, so don't get downhill of them!), so we should find out of Belgium can play with teams that want to play. They should - but this strikes me as being abut the most evenly matched game of this round.

Should be fun; on we go.

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