We are down to 16 teams and the World Cup is finally starting. In the next fours days, these teams will meet in 8 matches and only half of them will continue their quest for first place. Out of the remaining teams, ten are from Europe; three are from South America; one is from Central America and finally, we have Ghana from Africa and last but not least Australia. So who will prevail? My prediction is that the teams advancing will be the usual suspects with possibly a surprise.
Germany playing at home should move on over Sweden without much difficulty assuming that the German team shows up to play. Argentina and Mexico will meet once again in Germany (after their Confederations Cup match last year) and I expect that Argentina will prevail. There is little doubt that Diego’s old team is a quality side, especially after their extraordinary performance in the first stage of the tournament.
An Italian side with an improved game compared to the beginning of the competition should also manage to get by newcomers Australia. It is a match, however, that I expect it to be low scoring with several players from both sides cautioned. Ukraine and Switzerland will both battle hard for the win when they meet in Cologne. Both teams have not been able to win against a strong opponent since Ukraine lost to Spain and Switzerland tied with France. I expect that Ukraine will succeed in this contest in a low scoring affair but I believe that the quarter finals is the furthest they will go; the same holds for Switzerland if they happen to win on June 26th.
Ecuador could become the biggest surprise of the tournament defeating England. Having lost Owen to a knee injury and Rooney just coming back from a foot injury, England will be hard pressed to score many goals against a very hopeful South American team. Overpowering favorites Poland and Costa Rica, Ecuador’s players have already shown that they can win against first-rate teams. Portugal and the Netherlands will most likely play a high scoring match with the Dutch prevailing, the wining goal coming late in the game.
With Ronaldo having found his scoring touch against Japan and with an abundance of talent in all positions, Brazil should be able to overcome Ghana and advance to the quarter finals. In Hanover, Spain will meet France for the last game of this stage. An aged and unimaginative French side is not likely to advance past a high scoring and exciting Spain. On June 27th is expected to be Zidane’s last appearance in a football game. We are going to be very sad to see this legend walk off the field for the last time.