World Cup: Quarterfinals
We have now reached the Quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup Brazil. The Round of 16 provided many moments of excitement and some near upsets. Five of the eight matches went to extra time, two went all the way to penalty kick shootouts, and two had all the goals scored in extra time. Now before we pick the quarterfinals, a little history lesson for the five teams that needed extra time or penalty kicks. Nine out of the last ten teams to need extra time to advance in the knockout stage have lost in the next round. Now let's look at the matches:
Brazil vs Colombia- The hosts seem to surviving by the sheer backing of their fans. They are among the final eight, but still don't seem to playing like a team-- just a lot of individual talent. Colombia, even without their best player Falcao, have been on fire. Sure they dominated a weak group, but they also dominated Uruguay in the round of 16. Brazil needed penalty kicks to get by Chile, while Colombia only needed 90 minutes to exile Uruguay. It will be a tough match, and it is easy to feel that Colombia might be hot enough to take out the hosts and that the support of the many Brazilian fans can only get their team so far. I believe the Brazilian support will help them for one more round, winning 3-2.
France vs Germany- Both teams struggled against what should have been extremely over-matched African selections. Even without Ribery, France has looked like the best team in the tournament so far. Germany has had some tough games, but are still completely loaded-- more than anyone else still in this tournament. In the end, two of the leaders for the Golden Boot-- Brazil's Neymar and Germany's Thomas Mueller-- will end up facing each other in the semifinals. Germany escapes 2-1 in extra time.
Netherlands vs Costa Rica- Talk about a match-up that looks extremely lopsided on paper. Netherlands eased their way through a not so simple group, then came within two minutes of losing to a very game Mexico. The Netherlands became the team to win a knockout stage match by scoring the latest goals to come back to win and advance. Costa Rica surprised everyone by winning a group with three former World Cup champions. On paper, they should have been destroyed a long time ago. While I would love to see a CONCACAF team to get to the semifinals, I believe that Netherlands will be the stronger side. Netherlands win 3-1.
Argentina vs Belgium- Before winning a tough match against the United States, Belgium looked like a ton of individual talent but not a team. In that match with the U.S., they finally looked like a team. Argentina still seems to be waiting for Lionel Messi to completely carry the team to the World Cup title. Soon enough, Argentina will find out that Messi can carry them by himself. Belgium will get another team victory on their way to reaching the quarterfinals. Belgium wins 2-1, in extra time again.