So, the final group games are done and dusted and we have our final sixteen teams. The Americans and Algerians made it, which just helped add to the unexpected nature of this tournament. Given what’s gone down over the last couple of weeks that should, really, have been expected I guess.
I didn’t watch too much of today’s games. I was up early enough, as per usual, to watch a taped version of the USA versus Germany match. That was the only game that held any real fascination, although I would have skimmed through the Portugal/Ghana match if I hadn’t had to be on the road early for work.
The Germans looked assured enough without really going for the jugular. Their 1-0 win was enough for them to progress while also assuring their old mate would join them in the next round. I’m glad he did. As a Spurs fan, I have fond memories of Jurgen Klinsmann’s time at White Hart Lane and I was also in Germany in 2006 when his young German side did so much to finally bring together what had previously been a fractured nation.
I want to see him do well. The USA is in the next round where anything could happen. They play Belgium and, as limited as the Americans looked in attack against the first really good side they’d played, I think they’ve got a shot.
It’s been good to see and read about the support the Americans are getting back home. The USA really is the last frontier for football (well, there and NZ) so it’s refreshing to see they’re making progress. Of course, it’s not a short term project, and not without some noisy push-back, which I’ll go into tomorrow, but they’re getting there. And if they can get there, er, there, then we can get there here.
As for the Germans, well they looked like contenders again after the blip against Ghana. They’ll get past Algeria in the next round, then will probably face, and beat, France in the last eight. That sets up a potential show down with Brazil in the semis, if Brazil makes it that far. That would be a classic.
On the other side of the draw the Netherlands look like having a comfortable ride to the semis as they face Mexico then, if they make it, the winners of Costa Rica v Greece. There they should face either Argentina or Belgium, with my money on the former.
So that’s my prediction for the semis: Brazil v Germany and the Netherlands v Argentina. Europe versus South America. One other prediction: Miroslav Klose will score his 16th World Cup goal to become the all time leading scorer.
The other big news today was Luis Suarez’s ban. To me it’s about right but I don’t really care too much either way. I think it was correct to kick him out of the tournament as there was precedent for that but is four months right? I don’t know. I can see both sides of the argument and I half expect his ban will be reduced on appeal so he can start his club season a bit earlier.
It’s been fascinating to see some of the reaction though. It seems as if the Uruguay nation, to a man, woman and child, doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. It was someone else’s fault. There has been a lot of effort expended in trying to paint Chiellini as a serial villain, attacking the Italian and English media (the same media that voted him the English Football Writer’s Player of the Year not so long ago) and generally painting Suarez as a victim. Remarkable if sort of understandable, given the history and location of his nation.
But no amount of babbling from Suarez or his defenders will alter the fact he bit an opponent on the field of play and there are consequences for that. In life you can do or say what you like, sure, but there will always be consequences for what you do and say. It’s time for Luis to man up, take some responsibility and deal with it like an adult. Currently he and some of his cohorts are acting like children. His countrymen should be angry at him for what he did, not FIFA for how they dealt with it or the rest of the world for how they’ve responded.
The difference in response from people associated with his club side, Liverpool, has been quite marked and telling. They’re embarrassed. It’s Uruguay that should be embarrassed, not Liverpool.
Right, enough of that. Luis Suarez is yesterday’s news. Tomorrow’s news is that we all get to have a day off. Being Saturday in New Zealand, I’ll be spending the morning with my Mini-Kickers group (weather depending) and maybe catching up on some reading. And sleep. Then we’ll be back at it again.
Score picking update
I got one correct score today (Algeria 1-1 Russia) as well as a couple of results so I’m building a pretty decent lead at the top of the BFWCSPC. My family really must do better.
Picks for the Round of 16
No scores yet, just winners. Brazil to beat Chile, Colombia to beat Uruguay, Netherlands to beat Mexico, Costa Rica to beat Greece (probably on pens after a 0-0), France to beat Nigeria, Germany to beat Algeria, Argentina to beat Switzerland and Belgium to beat the USA. No surprises with that, but if there are any upsets, and I expect there will be at least one, it could come from Chile, the USA or possibly Mexico.