In life there are spectacles that everyone should see, not because of their expected enormity, but because of its sizzling unpredictability. Events that should be witnessed not because of the fact that it’s there but because it surprised you and fans at that event, that spectacle is the 2014 Fifa world cup knockout stage.
In this knockout stage, no one in their right mind knows what’s about to happen because everything that wasn’t supposed to happen happened. Spain, Italy, and Portugal have been bounced, the Costa Ricans are through and who can forget that the USA are still alive. Even though this World Cup has been more unpredictable and explosive then coke with Mentos in it, we here at Fan-I would like to give you a match-to-match breakdown of the knockout stage to the best of our ability.
Brazil vs. Chile
Brazil is the home team and they have a lot of momentum but Chile has played like they own the place. Say what you will about Spain this year, but Spain was still a high caliber team when Chile beat them like a piñata in group play and should not be taken lightly. I will also say that surprisingly, Chile play with more movement than Brazil. With that being said, I'll say the edge in momentum and coaching hangs with the Brazilians and Brazil should win.
By the way, make sure you watch this game. It is going to be gritty, high octane action and most likely, a straight red card will pop up somewhere in this match.
Prediction: Brazil wins 2-1 in extra time
Columbia vs. Uruguay
Columbia versus Uruguay is a very dangerous matchup because this is a game the Columbians should win but this World Cup has shown us "you should win" does not always guarantee victory. Luis Suarez has been banned for 4 months for deciding that people are food, which means he is out and Costa Rica proved that La Celeste (Uruguay) are a completely different team with Suarez than without. With Suarez their counter attack is dangerous when Edinson Cavani has him as an option to set up, without Suarez the Uruguayans are an old slow defensive minded team that cannot score.
I just do not feel comfortable giving the Columbians the win because even though they are talented they are still young and show defensive warts. However with Suarez gone I do not think La Celeste can expose those defensive warts.
Prediction: Columbia wins 2-0
France vs. Nigeria
I first want to say that I was completely off on my bold prediction of France crashing out of the group stage. Mentally, they seem to have figured it out, for now, which I did not see coming. France has also done something that I have not seen since 2006 and that is beat the teams that they should beat convincingly. For that reason I think that France will beat Nigeria and then lose to Germany in the Quarter finals.
Prediction: France wins 3-0
Germany vs. Algeria
I am rooting for the Algerians, I really am, but I am expecting a beatdown. Again, what should happen is not a guarantee; however Germany just has a better team plain and simple. I am not saying Algeria has no chance but Algeria has a daunting task ahead of them that no one envies.
Prediction: Germany wins 4-0
Netherlands vs. Mexico
This is going to be the match of the tournament. Both teams are fun, fast and how about the goaltending of Guillermo Ochoa. Big Will (my nickname for Ochoa) has been really good. I am expecting a fun match from both sides, however, the Netherlands will win. My problem with Mexico is that defensively they are good but defensive is a team thing when facing counter-attacking teams like Holland, and I do not know if the Mexicans offensively and defensively can keep up with the Netherlands. At some point in the match the Mexicans will get run off the pitch.
Prediction: Netherlands take it 4-3 maybe 4-2
Costa Rica vs. Greece
Costa Rica is the absolute last team I will say has no chance of getting through. This team has come from obscurity to win and what is even more impressive is that the Costa Ricans are doing this without their leading scorer in qualifying. However, they are going to face a frustrating Greek team. Greece is that type of team who will play would play ten goalies and one defender just to make sure you are not scoring. This style frustrates offensive minded teams with pace such as Costa Rica. However, Costa Rica has also shown that they play with a certain level of mental toughness and I think they squeak out a win.
Prediction: Costa Rica wins 1-0 in extra time or wins in the penalty shootout
Argentina vs Switzerland
I have to put it out there that my problem with Switzerland is that they are a decent team that plays really well against lower tier or middle tier teams, but whenever they play top tier teams they fold like a cheap suit. Their only saving grace is that Argentina’s offense although looks good on paper, it has looks stagnant and still on the pitch. In a way, that is kind of scary because Argentina’s offense looks sluggish yet they have scored 6 goals and went 3-0-0 in group stage, so imagine what happens when they get movement and start to peak. In any case, I am taking Argentina to win because Argentina is better and I do not need to be an expert to tell you that.
Prediction: Argentina wins 3-1
Belgium vs. USA
USA is getting better with every World Cup appearance and may have a shot but Belgium is not a layup. Belgium is a good team on paper but also a young team and is vulnerable to being almost too relaxed. Belgium needs to watch that, but if there a team that Belgium really need to play patient soccer against, it is the USA. I am not convinced that the United States of America are good enough to hold off Belgium for 120 minutes. My problem with USA is that you can clearly tell that the teams they face are better than the USA but I will say that the Americans always give it 110 percent and find a way to hang with these teams, and at times, beat them. However, at some point hanging with the team is not enough and maybe it will not happen in full time but in extras or penalties the Belgium side can probably break the defense of the Americans.
Belgium wins 1-0 in extra time
Who wins the World Cup?: I really think that Germany will beat Argentina much to the chagrin of the Brazilians. I really do think that even though Germany do not have a quote on quote #9 (center-forward) and the defense has not been as good as it was in previous World Cups, this German team is the best creative-passing team I have seen in a long time. And defensively Phillip Lamb, Mertesacker, and the rest of the defense is more than capable of holding down teams.
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