A World Cup quarter final almost seems an unseemly place to be visiting the spectacle of Netherlands vs. Brazil or Argentina vs. Germany. These games have the ring of semi-finals or even a final about them, but the quarters?
Brazil are starting to look ominous as Kaka gets into his work. The defence hasn’t been too troubled so far (although did ship a goal to plucky isolationists, People's Republic of Korea) and Robinho is looking happy and full of vigour so the Netherlands won’t find too many weaknesses. For their part, the Dutch really need Robben on his game as they’ve hardly looked like goal scoring monsters when he’s not around. Tough to break down though and I’m having trouble picking this one. If I had to I would say 1-1 and on to penalties. If it doesn’t go to penalties, I’m picking it will be Brazil heading into the next round.
The mouth watering game is the other one. Two teams in great form with attacking flair to burn and tiny questions on defence, it’s all set up for a cracker. The Germans are probably still pinching themselves over an England side that gave them their own half of a pitch to play on. It was a beautiful sight to see John Terry more exposed than his usual choice of girlfriends as the era of the Chelski billionaires, Krug, spitroasts, Bentleys and all came crashing down around them. The symmetry of the disallowed goal, the ten-year old dysfunctional midfield partnership, the incoherent manager bullying his youth team assistant, the dismayed gravitas of James Lawton in the Independent, this game had it all. And best of all Germany weren’t Germany, they were something else, fast, brave and willing to take risks as their youth team graduates, Ozil, Khadira and Muller put their burnt out rockstar opposition to the sword.
Speaking of burnt out rockstars, Maradona is doing a wonderful job with Argentina [Note from Hadyn: I totally thought Pete was gonna talk about Mick Jagger supporting the USA and England].
Messi looks a different class to anyone else at this competition, the team is happy, playing football full of joy and why not, they have their own football God looking after them. He pats them on the bottom, gives them a kiss when they’re subbed (take note Fabio) and dances a jig along the sideline as only a man totally in love with the beautiful game could do.
There’s plenty of history here too with the sides having met in two consecutive finals in 1986 and 1990. Argentina took the first one in an exciting 3-2 result where the Germans kept fighting back but couldn’t hold on. It was the opposite in 1990 where Lothar Mattheus’s men got revenge against an average and bitterly cynical Argentinean side in the worst final of recent times. In 2006 the two teams met again, this time in the quarter finals (spooky) and it was 1-1 with the Germans winning on penalties. It could be the same this time around but I think experience will win out in this one and Argentina’s big name players will bring it home. 3-2 would do nicely thanks.
In the other games Uruguay take on Ghana in an ‘old World Cup’ meets ‘new World Cup’ sort of way while Spain meet Paraguay. If Paraguay make the last 4 that would be kind of cool seeing as they couldn’t beat us but I’m thinking Spain, who are looking organised and determined rather than creative and emotional, will be too much for them over 90 minutes. Amazing that any team could have a player as great as Fernando Torres deeply out of form and still have goal scoring resources to burn. We’ve only really seen Villa so far but any one of Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Alonso (or of course Torres) can be a decent goal threat.
It’s all going so quickly now, big names are about to disappear at a rapid rate, legends will be made, villains will be uncovered, a surprise might be had, a riot might take place, the ball will still be shit, and before you know it there will be four.