Which teams will advance to the semifinals and which teams will pack their bags?
1) Netherlands vs. Brazil:
First off, let's go with Netherlands. Here's a team that could arguably be the unluckiest team when it comes to soccer. They made it to two consecutive World Cup Finals, losing to West Germany, 2-1, in 1974 and to Argentina, 3-1, in 1978. Although their country's ultimate dream of winning the World Cup was shattered twice, they were still crowned European Champions in 1988 when they defeated the Soviet Union, 2-0. During the previous rounds of this year, they outstandingly won all eight of their matches, which led them to enter the world cup. With that self esteem, they managed to win the rest of their matches, which led them currently to the quarterfinals facing Brazil. Would they finally remove the curse and grab the trophy that they want so dearly?
Brazil is a country that is well known as the nation born to play soccer. Brazil, a country that dominates the world in football like it was a samba competition, hold the records for the most World Cup championship titles. They have won five so far: the 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002 World Cups, respectively. They also made it to the Finals two more times in 1950 and 1998. Their bragging rights don't stop there, though. Their will to win started in the South American Championship era, winning three times in 1919, 1922, and 1949; Brazil hosted the cup all three of those times. Later on, the South American Championship era was changed into the Copa América era. Brazil won that titles in 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2007. They also hold the record for the most Confederation Cup wins, as they've came on top 3 times (1997, 2005, 2009). This year, they were in first place in the (CONMEBOL) World cup qualification, with 9 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses, which more than enough to put them through the 32 qualification. With two wins and a draw, they managed to come out on top, yet again, during the group stages while facing (arguably) toughest group in the World Cup: Portugal, Côte d'Ivoire and Korea DPR. With so many titles under their belt already, would their still be enough space for another one?
2) Uruguay vs. Ghana:
Uruguay is the country that was given the privilege to host the first ever world cup in 1930. The most astonishing part was that they held the first World Cup trophy, as well. They were also champions in year of 1950, and the only country to beat Brazil in the Finals when Brazil was hosting a cup. They won the inaugural South American Championship, and emerged victorious ten other times: 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959 and 1967. They won three other times during the Copa América era, as well: 1983, 1987, and 1995. Uruguay has hosted eight championships in their country and have won all eight of them. It is also well-known that they play amazingly in high altitude places. With South Africa being considered an area of high altitude, would this give them the advantage to win again?
Ghana is the only African country that is left in the World Cup. They are four-time African Champions (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982), and five-time West Africa champions (1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 1987). Ghana is a new face in the World Cup, joining for the first time in 2006. However, they have never made it this far, as they lost in the first round of the knockout stages to Brazil, 3-0. In their last 14 matches they have won eight times, lost five times, and drew once. Can Ghana still give some hope to the African nations?
3) Argentina vs. Germany:
Argentina is a country of Tango, but worships the ground of football. They were winners of the World Cup in the years of 1978 and 1986, but almost became the first country to win the World Cup after losing to Uruguay, 4-2. However, they have the record for most South American Championship wins, with a total of 12; they won in 1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, 1957, and 1959. They are also two-time champions during the Copa América era (1991, 1993). They also have bragging rights of winning the first Confederation Cup in the year of 1992. Argentina was considered lucky to enter the world cup after a game-winning goal in 92nd minute against Peru to guarantee them a spot in the World Cup. With 8 wins, 4 draws, and 6 losses. After barely making it through the qualification rounds, does Maradona have the coaching skill to help Argentina make it to the end?
An interesting fact about Germany is that it is the only country to have both both men and women win their respective World Cups. The men won it all in 1954, 1974, and 1990, while the women won it in 2003 and 2007. They are also three-time European Champions (1972, 1980, 1996), being the first country to have won three European Championships and three World Cups. Like Netherlands and Brazil, they were first in their qualifications with 8 wins and 2 draws, allowing them to fight their way through the qualification round before the group stages with 2 wins and 1 loss, which also made them the top team of their group. Can the Germans' superstition in the "psychic octopus" guide Germany to another World Cup win?
4) Paraguay vs. Spain:
In the group stages, Five teams entered the group stages in the World Cup. All five of them made it to the knockout stage, and four of them made it to the quarterfinals. So far, the only team who has been eliminated has been Chile. Out of all the South American teams, the biggest surprise has been Paraguay. This team has shocked the world by reaching the quarterfinals for the for the very first time in World Cup history. Only has only won two championships in the sport of football: the 1953 South American Championship and the 1979 Copa América championship. Paraguay keeps fighting and working to reach the ultimate goal of winning it all, as they were third place in the CONMEBOL qualifications with 10 wins, 3 draws, and 5 losses. However, with one win and two draws, they were first in their group. Can the underdogs surprise the world one more time and win it all?
We saved the best for last. Many people's favorites to win is the country of the Flamenco dance: Spain (España). Since their loss to Switzerland, they haven't disappointed and have done just as much as expected. In July 2008, Spain was ranked first in the FIFA world rankings, which was a first for them; they are the seventh country to be ranked first in the FIFA rankings. They have never won a world cup, but were the favors for many people for a while, as they dominated from November 2006 until June 2009, winning a record-tying 35 consecutive matches. In terms of the World Cup, the furthest they've ever gone has been the semi-finals in 1950. The most prize possessing moments in Spanish football were becoming victors of the 1964 and 2008 European Championships. In their last 21 matches, Spain has won 19 matches and lost twice. Will Spain finally prove that they can win the World Cup?
We'll find out sooner or later…