This will be the most anticipated match of the tournament with the devastating counter attacking of the Germans coming up against the stylish passind and ball control of the Spanish. It goes without saying that whoever grabs the first goal in a game like this will have a huge advantage and this could either lead to a cautious start or a German Blitzkrieg like their opening against Argentina.
Germany have been one of the surprises of the tournament, largely written off by most pundits as being too young and lacking any big star names. this is possibly true as if you put a transfer value on the German starting line up they would cost a fraction of what the Spanish team would command, and they would even be valued below the teams they have already soundly beaten in the second stages, namely England & Argentina. But as has been shown so often in the past it is the “better team” who wins rather than the better collection of individual players and in this respect Germany are one of the best this World Cup. If Germany do have a weakness it is in the centre of their defense and this could be a worry against a neat passing team like Spain.
Spain by comparison have a team stuffed with household names and in David Villa they probably have the player of the tournament. The rest of the squad is strong too and they seem to be able to retain possession even when they are being pressurised as shown in their surprisingly tough match against Paraguay. They will be at full strength for the game unlike Germany who will be without Thomas Muller due to suspension.
Spain have never reached a World Cup Semi Final before (their 4th place in 1950 was the result of finishing botom of the final group) while Germany and regular last four competitors, however this should count for nothing as this Spain side are full of confidence following their 2008 European Championships win when they beat Germany in the final.
Overall this is going to be a close game and although Germany will make things tough for spain I just feel that finally this exciting Germany team will sucumb. Thus the prediction is for Spain to advance to the final by the odd goal possibly in extra time.
Argentina never knew what had hit them as Germany produced the performance of the tournament going a goal up after three minutes and then proceeding to add 3 more in the second half to round off a resounding victory.
Argentina to their credit didn’t play badly and actually had more shots and possession, but their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed as the Germans produced a devastating display of counter attacking football.
Germany must now be favourites to win the final and despite the pre tournament doubters they have kept up their enviable record of consistency in the World Cup having only failed to make the Quarter Finals once since their first victory in 1954.
Now the possibility of a re-run of the 1974 final looks probable and that would be a great game as Holland will want to add their name to the list of winners, something they would have done in 1974 had they not started showboating in the final when 1-0 up.
Argentina Manager Diego Maradonna will probably be contemplating his future now, but hopefully he will stay on.
Argentina 0-4 Germany
Venue: Green Point Stadium
199 years ago Paraguay managed to regain their independence and tonight they will be looking to secure a first ever World Cup victory against their former masters in Johannesburg.
Paraguay have never reached this stage before and whatever happens now they will have exceeded their expectations greatly. They are likely to field the same side which beat Japan in a penalty shoot out meaning goals might be hard to come by for Spain especially in the opening stages.
Spain who have recovered well from their opening slip up against Switzerland will also be close to full strength but may choose not to start Fabregas who still looks a little short of match fit. If they do make a change then it will be up front where Torres has looked a shadow of his former self. They will need to be sharp to break down what will be a dogged Paraguay rear guard and it is possible they will try using Fernando Llorente as a target man given his height.
So overall this could be a hard fought game but history doesn’t favour a Paraguay win, and in their last World Cip meeting in 2002 Spain won 3-1. A similar score tonight looks the most likely outcome.
This could be the game of the tournament today as the spirited by youthful Germany take on the experienced players from Argentina in Cape Town today. Both teams are attack minded and Germany in particular have shown that they can hit a team on the break.
So far Argentina under the management of ex star Maradonna have looked the most impressive team in the tournament and have maintained a 100% record but unlike the Dutch they have done it with a bit of style. They have scored 10 goals so far and only conceded 2 and beat one of the better last 16 teams, Mexico with a bit in hand to reach the Quarter Finals.
Germany too have been quite impressive with 9 goals scored and only 2 conceded, but they did somehow manage to lose to Serbia and only just got the better of Ghana in their final group match. Their 4-1 trouncing of England looks good on paper but there are severe questions over the England team and this form is probably not as good as it would appear.
Germany will undoubtedly be a major force in International football over the next few years, but they might just find Argentina a step too far at this stage and although there might not be more than a goal in it Argentina are tipped to gain revenge for their 2006 exit to Germany so progress to the Semi Finals where they should meet Spain.
You would have to search far and wide to find anyone who predicted that these two would meet in the Quarter Finals of the 2010 World Cup. However here they are and both have played well enough to merit their place. So will it be a classic or another Paraguay v Japan insomnia cure? Well I feal the latter given that Ghana are lacking a bit up front and Uruguay like to keep things tight at the back. In the group stages Ghana had to rely on Penalty kicks to get on the score sheet, but did manage a goal from open play against the USA so maybe they have a goal in them for this tie but more than that looks unlikely.
Uruguay are very compact and despite playing from the back they have a big threat in the shape of Diego Forlan and if anyone is going to grab them a goal it will be him.
This is a hard one to call but if pushed I would go with Uruguay by the odd goal probably in extra time.
All of a sudden the Quarter Finals of the 2010 World Cup are upon us and the first of the four ties looks likely to produce a finalist at least and probably the eventual winner.
Brazil have looked very impressive in the tournament, coming through a tricky group with the minimum of fuss and then dispatching a talented Chile squad with similar ease. This form looks by far the best in the competition so far and they are justifiably favorites to lift their 6th title adding to successes in 1958,1962,1970,1994 & 2002.
Holland remain an enigma, they have a 100% record but have not looked overly impressive. However it could be argued that they were content to do just enough and were saving themselves for the bigger games ahead. At their best Holland have shown they are a match for Brazil only losing on penalties in their 1998 World Cup meeting, and in Robben & Sneijder they have players capable of winning the game. They go into the game with no injury worries, unlike Brazil who will miss Elano, Baptista & Melo with injuries, while Ramires is suspended. Even a team as strong as Brazil will struggle to cope with players of that quality missing.
So this one could be a lot closer than many think and sadly probably wont be the display of flowing football the neutral fans will be hoping for. If the Dutch can up their game they have a great chance of beating what will be a slightly under strength Brazil and with that momentum they should sweep through to the final. If Brazil can win this with four key players missing then those left in the competition will be in such awe that Brazil should take the tournament.
So who will win this pivotal game? If pushed for a prediction I would have to go with Holland to win by the odd goal probably in extra time. Whoever progresses it should be an intriguing encounter.
The final last 16 game in the 2010 World Cup pits the Iberian neighbours Spain & Portugal against each other for the right to play Paraguay in the Quarter Finals. Given the winner will be strong favourites to progress to the semi finals, this game might be a lot tighter than expected and a low scoring match is probable.
Spain played well against Chile to snatch their group after a spluttering start but with Torres looking a shadow of his Liverpool self, goals have not come easy.
Portugal have also struggled to get goals against the better teams and their entire haul to date has came against North Korea, who capitulated in the second half of their match. However they will take great heart from their battling draw with Brazil and the form line through Chile indicates this will be very close.
Overall I dont expect a thriller and a 1-0 scoreline, possibly needing extra time looks the probable result. Who gets the one is too close to call but if pushed one would expect Spain to just edge it.
History doesn’t favour a Japan win today and in the 12 previous Asia v South America World Cup Finals meetings only North Korea in 1966 and South Korea in 1994 have avoided defeat, both managing draws.
Japan are one of the surprises of the tournament having come through a fairly tough group thanks to wins over Cameroon and Denmark. However neither of these opponents looked anywhere like their best and it is hard to gague what Japan are capable of. Paraguay on the other hand have looked good in qualifying and although you can point to Italy’s below par performance in the finals it would be harsh to take too much away from the South Americans who have played neat, compact football. They brushed Slovakia aside with considerable ease and although they only drew with New Zealand they new what they needed that day and duly got it.
A repeat of their Slovakia performance should see them ease into the last eight for the 1st time in the countries history.
Holland eased into the last eight of the World Cup beating Slovakia somewhat easier than the score would suggest.
Arjen Robben opened the scoring with a well taken goal in the 18th minute and Wesley Sneijder added their second in the 84th, ensuring that Slovakia’s last minute penalty was academic to th result. However it was more of a workman like performance that would have been expected from the Dutch and many of their fans seem a little unhappy at their lack of flair. Still a win is a win and Holland have won all their matches in South Africa without leaving second gear. The problem now is can they up their game or is this all they have. A performance of this standard against Brazil won’t be anywhere near good enough and they will no doubt be aware of that. On Friday 2nd July in Port Elizabeth we will find out just how good the Dutch really are.
Holland 2-1 Slovakia
Be afraid – be very afraid the boys from Brazil have come to South Africa with the intention of lifting the World Cup.
In what should have been a tricky tie against a very good Chile side, Brazil proceeded to show that they have come to win, even if it means sacrificing some of their trademark flair filled football. In doing so they might not win the hearts of their home fans but collecting the trophy should act as compensation.
The game was quite open in the early stages and Chile started brightly playing some nice passing football, but as they had shown in their group games seemed to lack both composure and incisiveness in the final third of the field. A shock never really looked on the cards though and it was Brazil who took the lead with an untypical goal for them when central defender Juan found himself poorly marked in the penalty box and he duly headed home Maicon’s corner.
Four Minutes later the game was all but over thanks to some lovely flowing football, starting with Robinho who cut inside and squared ball to Kaka, who played an inch perfect first time pass to Luis Fabiano who virtually passed the ball into an empty net. This was Brazilian football at its best and when Robinho added their third just before the hour mark it was definitely game over.
To their credit Chile never stopped trying but their nice accurate passing was not enough to break through a determined Brazil defence and on the only occasion they manage a shot on target Cezar was more than equal to it. So despite having less possession and being out passed (Chile had an 82% passing accuracy compared to Brazils 77%) Brazil eased through to the last 8 with considerable ease. There they will meet Holland who have proven worthy opponents in several previous World Cup tournaments, however on this performance it will take something special to beat them and it looks increasingly likely that if any team beats Brazil they will be World Champions.
As a final foot note I would just like to acknowledge the excellent refereeing performance by England’s Howard Webb and his team. With several controversies already surrounding the refereeing it was great to see the game being handled so well.
Brazil 3-0 Chile
- Venue: Ellis Park
- Referee: Howard Webb
- Attendance: 54,096