World Cup Preview: Quarterfinals
As we head into the quarterfinal round of the 2014 World Cup, we find ourselves with seven nations that have won it all and tiny Belgium looking to win their first. Each selection comes loaded with plenty of weapons, so the difference in each match-up might be the defenses and who might be missing key players due to a red card (accumulation of yellow cards from the group stage is reset at the start of the knockout phase). Who will make a statement and advance to the Final Four on the World's biggest stage? Let's look at the matches and pick the winners:
Brazil vs Italy- Neymar vs Balotelli. If that match-up doesn't excite you, I don't know what will. Both teams have their fair share of scoring options. Italy has the better goaltender in Gianluigi Buffon, but Brazil may have just a little more in their attack than the Azzurri. This match could get to extra time and, maybe even, penalty kick shootout. In the end, like in 1994, the Brazilians continue their beautiful game into the semifinals.
France vs Germany- This is the match where France will truly feel the effects of not having Franck Ribery available to play. The Germans come in with too many weapons and will advance to their fourth straight semifinals at the World Cup-- six straight semifinals if you include the two straight semifinal appearances at Euro Cup. This match may not even end up being that close with all the weapons the Germans bring to the pitch.
Spain vs Uruguay- The Spaniards come in with a chance to not only repeat as World Cup champions, but also the first European side to win it all in an American continent. They have plenty of weapons, but age for some key members may be catching up to them. Uruguay comes in with one of the hottest players in Luis Suarez. Sure he had minor surgery on his knee, but it wasn't serious enough to cause any real issues. Diego Forlan might surprise some with a goal in this match. If the Spaniards focus on these two players, Edinson Cavani might just make them pay for it. Uruguay advances in penalty kick shootouts.
Argentina vs Belgium- Yes many feel Argentina finally has what it takes to win it all for the first time since "The Hand of God" in Mexico 1986. They certainly seem to have all the offensive weapons necessary. Many are discount the tiny country of Belgium and the fact that come in with plenty of offensive firepower and a stalwart backline. Argentina will find trouble finding scoring opportunities against the Belgian defense and may just give up a key goal during regulation. Belgium advances in extra time in a monster upset.
Brazil vs Germany
Uruguay vs Belgium