And then there were eight. With Ghana the only exception, all the teams remaining in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals are from Europe and South America. Four (Ghana, Netherlands, Paraguay, Spain) haven’t ever captured the title. Here is a short preview of each match along with a prediction of the outcome.
As the only African nation left in the World Cup, Ghana has the support of an entire continent behind it. The Black Stars have gone further in this tournament than in any other previous World Cup, though the only time they played in a prior tournament was in 2006 when they made it as far as the Round of 16. This year, Ghana is primed to become the first African nation to ever reach the World Cup semi-finals. Uruguay was the first country ever to win a World Cup, and has now returned to soccer’s biggest stage after years of missed qualification and early group stage exits.
Prediction: Ghana 2-Uruguay 1
Brazil’s first true test of this World Cup comes this Friday against Holland. The Dutch, playing their first game with Arjen Robben manning the front, put on an exhibition against Slovakia that was exemplary of the style of play so usually associated with the Brazilians. Both teams have relied on a deadly counter-attacking style that has seen them through with relative ease into the knockout stage. However one of these fine squads now has to exit the tournament, and Brazil’s new-found prowess in the backline should see them edge the Oranje.
Prediction: Brazil 3-Netherlands 1 [Ed. So we were way off on that one. Netherlands took it 2-1... it happens]
The Germans take on Maradona and Co. in a rematch of the 2006 quarter-final, which saw Germany pull ahead on penalty kicks. Both teams are among the favourites to get to the final, with each sporting a side very different from when they last met in the knockout stage. Argentina’s attack is as strong as ever, however Germany has surprised many at this World Cup with their own display of a free-flowing attacking football that has allowed them to dominate their opposition. With Argentina’s question marks in their backline, Germany’s talented and experienced forwards should be able to find the back of the net and propel the Mannschaft into the semis.
Prediction: Germany 4-Argentina 2
Simply put, Paraguay is in tough. Like Brazil, the Spanish have gotten better with every game in this tournament. In their round of 16 match against Portugal, Spain scored in the second half then slowly bled the Portuguese by passing the ball to one another. David Villa has been dominating opposing defenses, and is in line for the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer. Fellow striker Fernando Torres has yet to get a goal, but has slowly been rounding into form and is set to explode at any moment.
Prediction: Spain 3-Paraguay 0
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