So we’re down to the final eight and, after all the drama of the last four days the favoured teams, without fail, have made it through. Today’s matches were far from routine, but they did give us more info about both Argentina and Belgium.
Argentina really battled to get past the Swiss, leaving it till late in extra time. I think four games is enough to get a good picture of a side and in none of their four games has Argentina been convincing. They had slightly the better of their match but, worryingly for them, Messi was very well contained and I think their next opponents, Belgium, will have learned a lot from that.
Belgium, on the other hand, were more impressive than they have been and they may just be coming good at the right time. They had most of the match against the USA but came up against a keeper, Tim Howard, in great form. Another keeper in great form. The one thing they appear to have over Argentina is quality in depth. Lukaku came on at the start of extra time and made an immediate impact. That was a great extra time period too, with the Belgians getting out to 2-0 then the Americans grabbing one back and pushing to the end.
Despite all that, however, the USA should have won it right at the death in normal time. That miss by Wondolowski will haunt him for the rest of his days. Switzerland missed a gobber in normal time and they also hit the upright after Argentina had scored. So the best teams got through, but they were also the luckiest. More examples of those fine margins we were talking about not so long ago.
All that leaves us with some cracking quarter-finals, only one of which I’m confident enough to pick now. Like the rest of the world I fully expect the Netherlands to get past Costa Rica. I think the Costa Ricans have run their race and that one could get ugly. France v Germany, Brazil v Colombia and Argentina v Belgium could all go either way. It’s gonna be a cracking weekend of football.
Before then we all get to have a couple of sleep-ins. I’m not quite sure how my body clock’s going to cope with that.
As a side-note, Luis Suarez has apologised, sort of, for his bite on Chiellini. I can only think that’s because it’s part of Barcelona’s terms if he wants to move there.
Score picking update
I missed on the Belgium v USA game, but the damage wasn’t too great. I still lead the BFWCSPC by a decent margin.
With no games in the next couple of days I’ll wait for a bit before committing to my picks for the quarter-finals.