2010 World Cup Quarterfinals: What Lies Ahead for the Top Eight Teams?
Only three more rounds until we see a new World Cup champion! Only three more rounds until the lives of the 23 players on the winning roster change forever. As the World Cup comes to a close, we only have eight more teams remaining. What can they expect? What will the possible results be? Who will win and who will lose? Let's take a quick look.
Uruguay Can Hope High
Uruguay was the first team to win the World Cup in 1930, and won it again in 1950. 60 years have passed by, and now they are in with an amazing chance. They may not be considered favorites, but given the fact that they will face Ghana, one of the weaker teams in the last eight, Uruguay can lift their heads up and look for a spot in the final four of this elusive competition.
Up front, Atletico Madrid's stalwart Diego Forlan will be leading the attack and pairing with him will be the on-form Luis Suarez. They are well-disciplined at the back and are strong defensively.
Coach Oscar Tabarez won't be put under a situation to change the squad from their game against South Korea, but the injury of defender Diego Godin is surely a worry for the South Americans.
Can Ghana Win for Africa?
At the beginning of the tournament there were six African teams, and after two stages only Ghana stands tall. Can they bear the weight of the entire continent? They surly did prove their worth against USA.
They came on top of their group through goal difference and it took an extra time shot by Asamoah Gyan to put them through to the quarters. So they have been niggling all through the tournament. They have to step up their game if they want to win against Uruguay.
Ghana have surprised many so far. With the support of the whole African continent, it won't take them much time to surprise even more heads.
The Oranje Power Will Have to Struggle!
Netherlands are by far the most successful team in this year's World Cup. And they will face the most successful team in the World Cup's history, Brazil.
Netherlands have won all four games they've played. With Arjen Robben returning and scoring with his marvelous left foot, they cannot be counted out for sure.
Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneidjer, Dirk Kuyt, Rafael van Der Vaart, and Arjen Robben form the front line of the Dutch attack with Mark Van Bommel and Nigel de Jong holding back.
This is enough to beat any team in the world, but their defense concerns me the most. They can be exploited by any half-decent attack, so they need to be precise and calm while defending.
Given their opponent is Brazil, I don't see Netherlands having a clear-cut chance. But if Robben can keep up his amazing form, Brazil will face the heat.
Will It Be Number Six for Brazil?
Brazil are not the Brazil we are used to seeing. This Brazil team is better defensively. They have Maicon, Lucio, Juan, and Bastos in their defensive lineup and that surely does half the work.
Up top, Coach Dunga decided to drop Ronaldinho, Adriano, and Pato and decided to keep his favorites Fabiano and Robinho.
So far they have delivered the goods. With Kaka playing the attacking midfielder role, you wouldn't really miss their "samba style."
In their last game against Chile, they scored three with Juan, Fabiano, and Robinho. So far, Kaka has been their only disappointment, and it will be interesting to see whether Kaka or Sneidjer does the better attacking midfielder job.
If Kaka-Robinho and Fabiano can exploit the defensive weakness of Netherlands, then it is a no contest. I feel that Brazil have the defense to hold off Robben and co.
Score a goal and stay back should be Brazil's mantra if they need to progress through to the semis, and perhaps a record sixth title.
Will Maradona Reach the Promised Land?
Diego Maradona, the most decorated footballer in the world, didn't have a great time when he took over as the national coach of Argentina. They scrapped through to the World Cup Finals, and nobody quoted them as the real favorites before the tournament.
But Argentina has surprised many in this World Cup. Maradona has lifted the spirit of the team, made Tevez play in a playmaker role, and did so many minute things which have made Argentina invincible. Higuain is the best poacher in the world and he has proved it by scoring four goals already!
Of course, there is Messi! The little man from Barcelona hardly loses the ball. He keeps on running and it takes three defenders to stop him. He hasn't scored yet, but his influence on this team is of utter importance.
Now, they meet the mighty Germans in the quarterfinals, probably their toughest challenge so far. Germany has great speed, and is quite precise and sharp. These qualities can really question Argentina's rather fragile defense.
Argentina vs. Germany is going to be a treat for a normal football fan who likes to see fast, attacking football.
The Big Game Performers Are in for a Run!
After the 4-1 routing of mighty England, Germany have proved once again that they are the best when it comes to big games. Even after losing talismanic captain Michael Ballack to injury, Germany have done well at South Africa.
The quadruple combo of Klose, Podolski, Muller, and Ozil has been proved deadly. Klose, who has 12 World Cup goals to his name, will be the main man against Argentina. Muller has been impressive so far and so has Ozil.
The defense too is strong, with Lahm leading the side. Manuel Neuer has proved his pedigree in spite of coming to the World Cup as a replacement to Rene Adler.
After the pre-quarters, we saw that the young generation of German superstars were in fact good enough to beat the golden generation of English players. Their match against Argentina is going to be one hell of a contest.
The Underdogs from South America
As a surprise, four teams from the last eight are from South America, and the actual surprise amongst them is Paraguay. They won Group F, which contained the defending World Champions Italy, earning the praise of many. They scrapped through to the last eight through a penalty shootout against Japan, and now they are going to face the mighty Spain!
It has been a fairy tale ride for Paraguay so far, and it will reach its climax if they can see off the defending Euro Champions.
Paraguay are solely dependent of Roque Santa Cruz up top, but that is certainly not their speaking point. Their strength lies in the midfield where Vera, Caceras, and Riveros are holding strong. But asking them to play against the combo of Xavi, Xabi, and Iniesta is a little too much.
Frankly, they don't have much hope against Spain but they surly won't bow out cheaply.
Will the Euro Champions Win the World Cup?
Spain are the champions of the tournament by a mile on paper. But they did prove that games are not won on paper. To provide a little shock treatment to the Spanish media, they lost their opening game against Switzerland.
But they gained some momentum and made it to the next round on top of Group H. They should gain confidence from the fact that they defeated their Iberian rivals Portugal in the round of 16.
But Spain have not yet produced that killer performance like Brazil, Argentina, or Germany. They have the talent to win the tournament, but somehow they keep missing the key. Torres, who was widely publicized before the Cup, has been silent through the four games. Villa on the other hand has been sharp.
Seeing off Paraguay won't be that difficult for Spain, but the real challenge for them will come in the semifinals where they will meet the winner of the Argentina-Germany game.