With the knockout stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup around the corner, now is as good a time as any to look forward and dream about the potential match-ups in store.
While it's fun to think about which games would be interesting in terms of current form (Brazil vs. Holland, Uruguay vs. Ghana, and Spain vs. Portugal spring to mind), let’s have a look at the five that are more interesting from a historical context.
Oh, and two of them are actually happening in the next round. How did we get so lucky?
Two European powerhouses, with teams filled with talented and experienced footballers with the tactical nous to cut it on the biggest stage. These sides met in the final of the previous World Cup in 2006.
A game which saw arguably the greatest footballing talent of his generation score undoubtedly the most audacious penalty you’re ever likely to see in a World Cup final.
Oh wait, they both crashed out in the first round...never mind. Next slide!!
Possibly the pick of the round of 16, England takes on Germany and, well, let’s just say it has a lot of history.
The Three Lions see the Germans as their natural rivals, and although the central Europeans don’t reciprocate (the Oranje of Holland are their sworn enemy)...they have still been involved in some epic games with England.
English fans will be hoping for a rematch in the ilk of their 4-2 World Cup final victory in 1966, rather than more recent heartbreaking eliminations at the hands of their Germanic foes.
The round of 16 has also thrown out another interesting rematch. Mexico faces Argentina in a re-run of their 2006 World Cup match from the same round.
A stunning extra time goal by Maxi Rodriguez settled what was an enthralling game, with Juan Roman Riquelme exhibiting his remarkable passing pedigree. The maestro conducted wave after wave of attacking orchestra.
Mexico, for their part, held their own and were sharp going forward. If these two teams produce another game of this caliber it will be a welcome sight.
OK, I admit that I’m heavily favoring one side of the draw, but can you blame me? Argentina and England have produced a number of exciting games in recent times. Think David Beckham’s red card, then his redemption in 2002.
Think Michael Owen’s wonder goal.
Then you’ve got to take into account the added spice this time around. Diego Maradona scored the greatest ever World Cup goal against England (just after the ‘Hand of God’ incident). He now manages Argentina.
Potential classic written all over it.
To placate those of you not interested in the whole Germany/England/Argentina pocket, I decided to go over to the other side of the draw. Taking a look at potential games, I’d gone for Chile vs. Brazil.
The two sides had a couple of interesting games in qualifying, and Chile have been excellent this far in the World Cup. But then Spain rocked up to the party and ransacked the Chileans. Chances are they’ll be playing for Brazil if Switzerland doesn’t burst their bubble.
I thought one joke selection and two games that were already happening was taking it a bit too far.
So I’ve plumped for Holland vs. Germany. The proponents of Total Football turned up in the 1974 final expecting to waltz their way to their first World Cup title. But the Germans got in the way, beating the Oranje 2-1.
The only way these could face each other is if they both made the final. Both are much better going forward than defending, and it could be an interesting final.
Not that it will, but it would be nice.
Which potential match-ups are you looking forward to?
Perhaps Uruguay vs. Brazil in a re-run of the 1950 World Cup final? Or maybe the Spanish are looking forward to exacting revenge against South Korea for their elimination in 2002?
Are there any other glaring ommissions? Let me know and I'll add the good ones.