Hey, hi and welcome back to the Post Up. Since my last article I went a solid 4-4 on who I believed would win each game. I got the scores wrong, for the most part, but otherwise I am sitting pretty here. Since I am doing decent enough at this game, let’s keep this going by doing predictions for the round of 8 in the World Cup.
France v. Germany:
Okay so here is the big, heavy-weight match-up of the round of 8. We have two European power houses in France and Germany going head-to-head for a chance at the semi-finals. In one corner we have France who is coming off of a good 2-0 victory over Nigeria. Unlike most of the games in the knockout stages so far, France did not have to dispose of their opponents in extra time. France struggled to control the game in the first half, but the second half they seemed much more composed on the ball and were able to get a goal from Pogba and an own goal from Nigeria. In the opposing corner we have Germany, who struggled mightily in their game against Algeria. Sure, they won 2-1, but they did so in extra time. Not to mention that Germany never looked like themselves in the game. Sure, they created a few chances, but were stopped by the brilliant goalkeeping of M’Bolhi. Germany also struggled to keep possession and their big players seemed to disappear. Both teams should have tossed aside their opponents with ease, but both struggled, so what does this mean for their match-up?
France 3-2 Germany (ET)
I am going with France in this match-up because they seemed to figure things out quicker than Germany. Right now, France seems to have figured out how their midfield best operates. They are not without issues, as they need to start Benzema as the lone striker, and not out wide to accommodate Giroud, and they seemed to realize that as the game went on when they subbed out Giroud for a more favorable wing player in Griezmann. Germany, on the other hand, have issues but they have not seemed to figure it out yet. To begin with, the Germans need to start Lahm at right-back. He is a superb player, and can play midfield well, but by playing him in midfield, where they are already deep, they are playing a center-back at right-back and this causes the defense to be extremely slow and vulnerable to pacey attackers that attack the players head-on. The other issue with Germany is their midfield, which they have a lot of depth but have yet to figure out. Ozil is not as good as he once was, and should not be starting anymore. Germany should also start with Khedira and Schweinsteiger, to have a more controlling and defensive shape to their midfield. However, Germany has not figured these issues out yet, and therefore they probably won’t figure them all out by the game on Friday. Germany will still make this a competitive game, but France will have too much control of the ball and that is why they will move onto the semi-finals to play either Brazil or Colombia.
Brazil v. Colombia:
Now for the light-weight match-up of the World Cup quarter-finals. In one corner we have the extremely exciting and shocking Colombian team. I am not going to lie, I did not think that the Colombia would be this far. I thought that they were too young, did not have a goalscorer because Falcao was out, and that they just did not have enough to get out of a group that had Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan. Boy, was I wrong. They finished the group stages with 9 goals and only allowing 2. They found a superstar midfielder and striker in James Rodríguez and in my opinion, Colombia looks like the team to beat right now. They are the only team so far that has not tripped up and they continued that trend into the round of 16 were they handled Uruguay with relative ease. On the other side, we have the hosts and favorites, Brazil. Brazil won their group, and won the first game knockout game, and are still considered favorites by a large margin, but I do not know why. Sure they handled Croatia and Cameroon, but they were supposed to. Another interesting trend of Brazil is that when they play teams that are good, they struggle. They drew with Mexico, and if it wasn’t for a few centimeters, Brazil may have been knocked out by Chile. Brazil have not played nearly up to their potential so far, which is very worrisome for a team that is favored to win by a very large margin.
Colombia 3-1 Brazil
Down goes the hosts! Right now, if you have been watching the World Cup at all, you would know that Brazil is not yet ready to handle Colombia. Brazil has not been playing well throughout the tournament, and they were even worse against Chile. Colombia is a much better team than Chile is and should be able to control the game against Brazil. Not only that, but I do not think Brazil has enough defensively to stop the brilliant James Rodríguez. Brazil will have to devote at least one or two players to him the entire game, and for a team that is superbly skilled offensively, but struggles on the defensive side, minus Júlio César, that is going to be a struggle for Brazil. I see Colombia controlling this game, through Rodríguez, the entire game. Rodríguez will add at least another goal or assist to his golden boot and MVP performances. Brazil will hang around in the first half, but the skill and discipline of Colombia will be too much in the second half, which is why we should expect to see France v. Colombia.
Argentina v. Belgium:
Alright, now in this match-up we have a young team looking to prove themselves, vs. a team looking to prove they are worth their hype. Let’s start with the latter, Argentina. Argentina are who we thought they were, they are an amazing offensive team with the likes of Messi, di María, Agüero, etc. However, they are lackluster in the midfield and defensive sides. I stated in my last article that it would not take much to beat Argentina because of how much they lack everywhere, other than going forward, and Argentina proved this for me by beating Switzerland 1-0 in extra time. Belgium on the other hand, has the best defense in the World Cup so far. They have the ability to counter Argentina’s only strength. Not only that, but it seems that Belgium’s offense has finally woken up. If it was not for a brilliant performance from Tim Howard, Belgium could have easily scored 4 or 5 against the USA. Argentina do not have anything close to a Tim Howard on their team, and their defense is just as bad as the USA’s was.
Argentina 1-3 Belgium
I was hinting at it the entire time in the last paragraph, and maybe was a little to thick with it, but Belgium should be the winner’s in this match-up. I expect Belgium to continue and grow upon their last match against the United States with how they attacked. If I was in that locker room with them, I would tell them to do whatever you did last game against Argentina because, unlike the USA, Argentina will not be able to handle that kind of attacking onslaught. The other great thing that Belgium has going for them is that they have the defense to stop Messi and company. Argentina’s attack is too talented to not get one goal by the amazing Belgium defense, but more than likely it will be nothing but a consolation goal, because at that point Belgium should have this game in hand. Therefore, Belgium will be moving onto the semi-finals and looking towards and opponent of either the Netherlands or Costa Rica.
Netherlands v. Costa Rica:
Here it is, the final game of the round of 8 in this years World Cup. On one side we have the very surprising Costa Rica. They were in a group that consisted of Italy, England and Uruguay and still managed to win the group. Then in the first round of the knockout stages, they played a very good Greece team and were able to dispose of them on penalties. Costa Rica has surprised many with their discipline, strong team play in all areas of the game, and most importantly, their ability to score. No one would have thought that they would have five goals in this tournament, and more impressively, only give up two goals. But, they will be faced with a tough task in removing the Netherlands from World Cup contention. The Netherlands have been on and off in this World Cup, literally. Their first and third games they handled their opponents with ease. Their second and four games have been more of a struggle and have seen the Dutch win late when they should have been winning already. Not only that, but the Dutch have also lost their defensive midfield anchor in de Jong, and therefore it will be interesting to see how Louis van Gaal will shape his team against Costa Rica.
Netherlands 2-0 Costa Rica
Unfortunately for Costa Rica, their biggest advantage was the way that teams had been underestimating them so far, but that advantage stops here. Louis van Gaal has already spoken out about how they think Costa Rica could win it all and therefore they need to play these guys like they are champions, and the Dutch will. The Dutch will come out firing and looking to push and bully Costa Rica around early so they can go up early. With the Dutch running a 5-3-2 formation it will be extremely hard for Costa Rica to break through the five Dutch defenders that have been superb so far. Combine that with the attacking genius of van Persie, Robben and Sneijder, it will make for a long day for Costa Rica. Costa Rica will not get blown out, but if pattern follows the Dutch as it has all World Cup, they will control this game from beginning to end and win the game with ease. With that, the Netherlands would be set up to have their down game against Belgium which will make for a very enticing semi-finals match-up.
Thanks for reading!
All stats and information courtesy of espnfc.com