6/24/2006

World Cup: Round of 16 predictions

So, we're at the important part now, where a loss sends a team home. This makes me very nervous about England. Ecuador could knock them out in tomorrow's match.

Not that any of it matters, though. Germany is playing better than anyone else. They seem to really be enjoying themselves, and are taking their time with opportunities. Rather than taking quick shots on goal when they reach the box, they wait a second, protect the ball, and make something happen. This relaxation could be because of they're playing at home, but it could just be because they're so damned good.

Argentina v Mexico is this afternoon. That should be a fantastic match, and I'd have to pick Argentina to win. Mexico didn't play nearly as well in the group stage, and Argentina has a crop of really talented men. I just hope it'll be a good game.

So, England and Ecuador tomorrow. The loss of Michael Owen puts a lot of pressure on Peter Crouch to perform, and frankly, England just hasn't played too well. Rooney is playing with passion, when he plays, but I worry he's going to get injured, especially if that passion turns to frustration if they wind up down against Ecuador.

Tomorrow's other game is Portugal vs the Netherlands. I pick the Dutch, who are playing incredibly well. But, really, I'm no expert.

Monday we've got Italy and Australia and Switzerland vs the Ukraine. I'd really like Australia to win. Jon Stewart described them this week as "the drunken us" which is appropriate. I hope Ukraine can beat the Swiss, as this is their first World Cup, and it's always nice to see a new team go far.

On Tuesday, Brazil will play Ghana in what I predict will be one of the most entertaining matches of this stage. Brazil should cruise to an easy victory, but wouldn't it be great if Ghana pulled out an upset? Ghana played very well against the United States on Thursday, and I'd like to see them go far. Good thing I'm not a betting man.

The second game on Tuesday sounds more like a 16th century war than a Round of 16 match. Spain versus France. Spain should win easily. They're playing well, though I don't know if they can beat Brazil. But more on the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Finally, I have to plug what has become my favorite podcast. Baddiel and Skinner's World Cup Podcast
follows two English comedians as they attend the World Cup. There are some brilliant bits in it, most notably when Morrisey and Bing Crosby make appearances. As I'm rooting for England, this has become necessary listening.

So, what do you think?

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