What we learned so far…
1. South America brought their A-game. All five teams from the continent have made it through the group stage (assuming Chile survives today’s match). That’s insane. I think they should get five guaranteed spots for the next World Cup in Brazil 2014.
2. Africa…not so much. Ghana is the only African nation to make it out of the groups. Huge disappointment for the teams that got to play on their home continent. What happened? Too much pressure? Insufficient talent?
3. Traditional powers France and Italy bow out early…I don’t know about you all but I’m glad to see some new teams in the final 16. I told you Italy looked old, and that France didn’t deserve to be there…France makes me look like a genius.
4. ESPN’s coverage has been absolutely tremendous. There are a lot of things I cannot stand about the WWL, but they’ve been all over this tournament. Knowledgeable analysts, thorough recaps/previews. If you see any weaknesses in the coverage, share them below.
5. This is the greatest sporting event in the world…America is finally catching on.
What can we expect?
We’ve moved to a 16-team bracket style tournament. It’s so rigid, so easy to follow. No more ties, or “draws” has Ian Darke and the rest of those awesome British commentators call them. Win or go home…or have a shoot out with penalty kicks.
June 26, 10:00 am on ESPN
Uruguay vs. South Korea
Diego Forlan plays his club football in Madrid, Spain. Not Real Madrid…their suburban neighbors Atletico Madrid. He led them to a Euro League title this season, but apparently has plenty still left in the tank for this WC run. Ladies, if you’re craving some serious abdominals, do yourself a favor and Google image search for Diego. You’re welcome. He had two goals in Group A. It’s a toss-up between Uruguay and The Good Korea…I have to give the slightest of edges to the Uruguayans. The winner plays the winner of our next match…
June 26, 2:30 pm on ABC
United States vs. Ghana
I had a friend ask; “Are people mad that he’s on the team? He’s the coach’s son!” True, Michael Bradley is Bob Bradley’s son, but he’d still be on the team if Maradona was the US skipper. His work-rate is high, he wins balls in the midfield, and he’s getting better ever day. Oh, and he’s 22 years old. What were you doing when you were 22? Trying to get that freshman to sleep with you because you were her connection for getting alcohol…I digress.
US won their group for the first time since 1930. You’re probably thinking, ‘Joe, why is that important?’ Well, dear reader, winning the group keeps the Yanks away from Germany and eventually Argentina (more on that match up later). Landon Donovan and friends will be looking for revenge against the Black Stars after the 2006 WC loss in the group stage, which eliminated the US from the WC. The goal was to make it out of the group. I hope they aren’t content, because they look like they could make a run to the semis this year. I like the Yanks to stay hot, beat Ghana 2-1.
June 27, 10:00 pm on ESPN
Germany vs. England
England stubbed their toe in the group stage and finished second to the US. Their reward punishment is a match with old foe Germany, the Group D winners. (Sidenote: I cringe anytime a broadcaster (cough, Bob Ley, cough) says something like “The Champions of Group C, the United States”. The champions?? Really? You haven’t won anything by placing first in the group. The goal of group play is just to survive and move on. Let’s stick with “winners” and leave the “champion” titles for after the trophy presentation).
Germany is battling an injury bug, and England is battling, well, themselves. John Terry thinks he’s still the captain. He is constantly butting heads with manager Fabio Capello, and was forced to apologize for comments he made in a press conference. I’m betting the Germans rally to knock out the real-life soap opera that is the Three Lions. Wayne Rooney will not score, again.
June 27, 2:30 pm on ABC
Argentina vs. Mexico
Lionel Messi in the house. Argentina waltzed through Group B. Mexico survived Group A thanks to Uruguay beating the host nation 3-0. Argentina is the favorite but I think El Tri is ready to pull off the upset. If Mexico can bunker down, and get one goal…they could shock the soccer world. If it goes to penalties, I give Argentina a huge advantage. Should CONCACAF have two teams reach the quarterfinals, it would be considered a giant success. Then again, I might just be “crazily optimistic.” Argentina could go America all over Mexico’s ass and win like 4-0. DVR this match if you’re busy. Make time to watch it. Invite a friend who isn’t in love with the game yet.
That’s all for now, I’m headed to Lake Erie for the weekend. Enjoy this weekend’s match ups.
The Rolling Stones - Shattered