6/26 Uruguay-SKorea, USA-Ghana
6/27 Germany-England, Argentina-Mexico
6/28 Holland-Slovakia, Brazil-Chile
6/29 Paraguay-Japan, Spain-Portugal
Two classics: Germany vs. England and Spain vs. Portugal. Two forgetable games (involving Slovakia and Japan; sorry but those teams do not bring me to my knees screaming "yes! i want to see more of you guys!") and the rest that could make us wonder hmmm not bad, not bad at all!
Before the WC I picked Uruguay as my dark horse and it's looking pretty good right now. I saw them making semis, which is reasonable with Ghana, not England (though we all know now how weak Capello's team is), on its path. Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay's coach (nicknamed Maestro) has a collective destined to make the final four. When they needed to play tough defense, France could not score even when playing with an extra man (only for 10 minutes but still, good job La Celeste!). Then South Africa experienced more offensive Uruguay and lost badly 0-3. Needing only a draw against Mexico in its final group game, Uruguay did not calculate winning 1-0. Nice job!
They are focused, play well together and believe that they can surprise non-believers again and again. And they are, along with Portugal, the only team that have yet to concede a goal! (Great) defense wins championship. Well, perhaps it's not the case here but it will take them far into the tournament.
Oh, yeah, the next opponent. It's South Korea. Nice try but the truth is that Nigeria failed to beat them in the final group game. Not taking anything from its surprising qualification but they are fortunate to be here. No, they do not have a chance against Uruguay so please pack your bags. Overall, not a bad performance.
Ghana-USA. Americans have a lot in common with SKoreans. They don't belong here, either and as much as American media is trying to overblow its "amazing" run it ends at Accra station. Thanks, see ya in 4 years (since they still play against "world powers" such as Canada, Costarica, and Honduras somebody has to make it. I bet it's USA. Again). Ghana, the last hope of Africa, playing without its star Michael Essien has done well and its quarterfinal matchup with Uruguay should be very interesting.
1966. England. WC final at the famous Wembley Stadium. 98,000 people watching live. 400 milion in front of TV. England-Germany 4-2 after overtime. That's one for the ages. To this day it is unknown whether England's third goal, giving them 3-2 lead in overtime, should have been allowed. Did the ball cross the line? The Swiss referee was uncertain. He asked the Soviet linesman (key word "Soviet"), Tofik Bakhramov, who said "good goal!" How did he know? He could not but he did have an extra "motive to cheer" for England: Germany just defeated his Soviet Union in semis. (Remember, it was 1966). Having said that there is an amusing anectode: when Bakhramov was asked on his deathbed how could he be sure the third goal had crossed the line, he was alleged to have replied: Stalingrad! ... Ouch! Revenge is best served cold! It's sad that some people never forget and never forgive.
On Sunday, Germany will prevail being a slightly better of the two mediocre teams and England must begin making major changes since its football clubs have more foreigners than America leaving native English players mere spectators.
Argentina is such a huge favorite that it's unthinkable to see them lose against Mexico. And everyone wants to see a monstrous quarterfinal between Argentina and Germany. 1986 & 1990 WC finalists will battle on a South African soil till the very end. Argentina! (Naturally, it would also be quite a story if England were to play Diego's team again after the most (in)famous match of 1986 WC, which included both the best goal ever in the world cup history and the "hand of God" by Diego Armando Maradona. What a sweet revenge for the Englishmen, if only they had a good team to face Diego). Moreover, Mexico is used to losing in WC 2nd rounds. Harsh but true!
Holland will demolish Slovakia. It's not even close!
Chile will challenge not-so-magical Brazil but it's not good enough to upset the 5-time champs.
Paraguay-Japan. How can I say this politely? Ok, they do have to go out and actually play on the soccer field so that there is a winner (Paraguay) that will face Spain. (Flipping a coin for "the-most-interesting-match" of 2nd round might be a better idea, though).
Euro champs Spain will face plenty of problems against Portugal. They were my favorites, perhaps still are, to win it all however, there is something wrong. Something is not clicking with Spaniards. Nonetheless, they do have time to find their magic. If they make it on time, they will be crowned WC Champs! Otherwise it's Argentina for the 3rd time and the entire world will see Diego's butt running around the center of Buenos Aires! That is his promise should they win! I bet some people cheer for Argentina just to experience that!