Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Day 16: The knock-out stages are finally here

Well, folks, we're into the knock-out stages. This is where it gets exciting, while actually the games tend to get a little more conservative. There won't be a 7-0 blow-out, is all I'm saying.

The first round, aka the Round of 16, has a few interesting match-ups. The draw is now separated into four groupings, each group sending a semi-finalist. It makes sense visually, so I've included a picture rather than trying to describe it all.

Tomorrow we have games from the top left quarter. It's the weakest, and sees Uruguay play South Korea and the US play Ghana. Fortune smiled on this crew, as not one of them was favoured to get to the semi-final. I would give each a fighting chance, as only Uruguay has impressed so far, and that was in a weak group. Ghana survived a tough group but weren't particularly great. The US barely made it out of a weak group, and South Korea were only good.

My predictions

Uruguay 2-1 South Korea
Uruguay should beat the Koreans, and we should see some fast, attacking football, as each will be looking to hit the other on the counter. Uruguay's attacking talent should be too much for the South Koreans if they run at the Korean backline, and they are quite organized and can grind out a win if needed. South Korea beat Greece, but so did my consumptive cousin Jimmy.

USA 1-1 Ghana - US win on penalties
I really, really want to pick Ghana here. They've shown heart, they've shown organization, and they've shown good, attacking intent. One thing they haven't shown is the ability to score from open play. I think they'll finally get one, as their speed and trickery going forward should trouble the US backline. The US can score and won't give up if they go a goal down. Both teams will be under a lot of pressure: Ghana with the whole "last African country left" thing and the US because they have been handed the easiest possible draw to the semis and will like their chances, and are so desperately trying to prove that they deserve our respect. I think they'll handle the pressure better, but it'll be cold down south before they get my respect.

Ugh. I really hope they lose. I hope Asamoah Gyan gets the goal he deserves and that Landon Donovan chokes with an open net in the 92nd minute.

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