ro Thirty-two teams traveled to South Africa with one goal. That goal was winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
For twenty-four of those teams the dream is dead but eight teams are still alive to host the trophy on July 11th . Seven of the eight teams left are winners of the group stage with only the United States being the only group winner to lose.
Of the eight teams left four are from South America, three are from Europe and one is from Africa. All of the European teams meet teams from South America in the quarterfinals.
If the European teams can find a way to sweep their opponents, it would salvage a less than stellar World Cup for Europe. On the other hand if the South America teams dominate the quarterfinals it would put a stamp on their dominance of the World Cup.
By the way if the 2010 World Cup is not remembered for South American supremacy, it should be remembered as the World Cup of rematches. Match after match seems to be a rematch of a great World Cup match from the past or from the 2006 World Cup.
The quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, features a few surprise teams as well as teams expected to still be here at this point in the tournament.
The eight teams in this round have made 83 World Cup appearances.
Even more impressive is that four (Germany-three, Argentina-two, Uruguay-two, Brazil-five) of the eight teams to reach the final eight have won a World Cup title. Five of the eight times are also undefeated with Argentina and the Netherlands being 4-0 and Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay having a draw a piece.
Since half my World Cup predictions have been wrong, I might as well keep it up for this round of the tournament.
July 2nd games:
Uruguay vs. Ghana
This matchup features two of the surprise teams in the final eight. Uruguay ousted South Korea 2-1 and Ghana outlasted the United States in extra time to advance 2-1 as well.
Ghana carries the hopes of the whole African continent as the last African team. Uruguay is one of four teams from South America to advance to the quarter-finals.
One of the fast rising stars of this tournament has to be Diego Forlan of Uruguay. With two goals in the tournament and great play throughout Forlan has been the catalyst of the Uruguay offense.
Not to be outdone Louis Suarez is one of four players with three goals and two assist in the tournament and scored two goals against South Korea. Uruguay has not won a World Cup since 1950 but have fans believing a third title is possible.
Ghana has made their run with a young team and without their best player Michael Essien, who is still recovering from a knee injury. The Black Stars will get plenty of support being the last African team in the tournament.
Leading Ghana in scoring is Asamoah Gyan with two goals and one of the best names still around the tournament, Kevin-Prince Boateng with one goal. This already has been the best result in the World Cup for Ghana.
In four matches in this tournament, Ghana has allowed three goals. Uruguay on the other hand has only relinquished one goal and that was to South Korea in the round of 16.
The lack of goals and defense has been one of the themes of this World Cup. This game will hinge on Uruguay’s defensive ability.
Prediction: Uruguay by a 1-0 score
Netherlands vs. Brazil
Brazil has cruised through this World Cup much like they have in nearly every World Cup. The Brazilians are one of four teams left the tournament without a loss.
The Netherlands are finally looking live up to their billing in the knockout stage after years of failing to meet expectations. The Dutch have to keep winning if they want to shed their label of a team that chokes when it matters most.
This should be a fun match with the third and fourth best scoring teams in the tournament meeting on the pitch. This is also a rematch from the 1998 World Cup won Brazil in penalties.
In their last match Brazil ousted fellow South American team Chile 3-0 move on. The Netherlands slipped by Slovakia 2-1 to advance.
Brazil is loaded with talent but Luís Fabiano with three goals and Kaka, even after missing a game because of a bogus red card, with three assists lead the way. As a team, Brazil has eight goals but has focused more on defense in the World Cup because of their coach Dunga.
The Netherlands have talent all over the pitch just like the Brazilians. Leading the Dutch is Wesley Sneijder with two goals and Robin van Persie with a goal and two assists.
The men in orange have played even better since their star Arjen Robben returned from injury. Robben could be the player to reverse the fortunes of the Dutch in this rematch.
Dunga has made defense the key to victory from his days playing in Italy.
Both teams can score quality goals but the Brazilians nearly own this tournament and find enough goals to win.
Prediction: Brazil by a 2-1 score
July 3rd games
Argentina vs. Germany
This matchup is what we would call in America a good old fashion grudge match. These teams do not like each other.
The bad blood stems from the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Argentinians were knocked out of this tournament by the Germans on penalty kicks.
After the Germans won and eliminated Argentina, brouhaha broke out between both teams with punches and kicks thrown by players and officials from both teams. Two players involved in that altercation Maxi Rodríguez and Bastian Schweinsteiger are back for this World Cup.
Rodriguez hit Schweinsteiger from behind during the melee. Schweinsteiger has already started the smack talk, saying the Argentinians do not respect to players or officials.
These teams are in this match after Argentina beat Mexico 3-1 to move on and Germany spanked England 4-1 to advance. Both games are even more of note since the officials missed calls concerning goals.
Argentina was involved in a brief dustup with Mexico in the round of 16 at halftime of this World Cup. What makes this matchup even better along with the bad blood is that these two teams are the top scoring teams in the 2010 World Cup.
No team has score more goals in this World Cup than Argentina who has ten. They are led by co-scoring leader Gonzalo Higuaín with four goals and the tournaments only hat trick.
Higuai is not the only dangerous player for Argentina. Carlos Tevez has two goals and while superstar Lionel Messi has been held scoreless, he does have four assist the most in the tournament.
This young German team has not succumbed to the pressure of the World Cup after their star Michael Ballack was injured. That has not stopped Miroslav Klose from climbing up the record books.
Already Klose is tied for fourth place with Pele after scoring two goals in this tournament. The biggest star of this World Cup for Germany has been Thomas Müller with three goals and three assists.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona has been colorful at times in the press conferences but for the most part has been on his best behavior. If there ever was a game for Maradona to act a fool and quite possibly cost his team it would be in this hate-fest against Germany.
Again these are the two highest scoring teams in the tournament. With luck we as fans will get one of the highest scoring and best games of the entire tournament.
Prediction: Argentina after extra time being tied 3-3, on sudden death penalty kicks and Germany misses first
Paraguay vs. Spain
Paraguay is another surprise team to reach the quarterfinals joining Paraguay and Ghana. Spain is finally living up to their potential in the World Cup.
Spain eliminated the Portuguese on the only goal, Portugal would concede in the entire 2010 World Cup, for the 1-0 win. Paraguay was the team to advance from a penalty shootout over Japan.
Paraguay has only scored three goals in full time and no player has scored more than one goal. The key to Paraguay is their defense. This team is that they have only allowed one goal, way back in their first group stage game against Italy.
One player has carried Spain on his back and that player is David Villa who is the co-leader in goals scored with four goals. Of Spain’s five goals Villa has four and Andrés Iniesta has the other goal.
Several major stars have had trouble scoring goals in this World Cup and Spanish star Fernando Torres is no exception. Torres who is coming back from an injury has struggled in the tournament.
While it might seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone a Paraguay upset in this game is possible. Of all the teams loaded with talent only Spain has struggled to score goals.
Add Spain’s lack of goal scoring with Paraguay’s defense and it looks like the Spanish are right in the Paraguayans wheel house. If Paraguay can keep Villa from scoring, they have a chance to advance.
Prediction: Paraguay advances on penalties once more
There you have it my quarterfinal predictions for the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals. See you again for another preview and prediction for the semifinals.