It’s Friday and there’s no World Cup on TV. What’s that all about? Since there are no games on today, I thought I’d give you some insight on the remaining 16 teams and who I think will make the top 4. It’s been a great tournament with all different styles of footballing going on so here’s what you need to know….
1. The Dutch are for real. I expect them to make it through to the top 4 teams. Mexico will be their 1st real test (I’m not counting the Spain game because I didn’t like that Spanish lineup) but I still expect the Holland squad to prevail over el Tri and then the next opponent, too. Robben and Van Persie have looked exceptionally on par. Van Gaal is a terrific manager and is jacked up about starting with ManU in the fall so he’s really built something special with the oranje and keeps the group looking cohesive and motivated. Wesley Sneijderis dangerous off set pieces and DeJong is tactically sound, too. They’ll make a deep run in the tournament and I expect them to possibly reach another final. The Dutch will probably face Costa Rica in the round of 8 and the ticos are pesky but not as organized as this Euro powerhouse.
2. Brazil! Neymar has scored 4 goals this tournament which makes him one of the top scorers and he looks unstoppable. Brazil’s team is surprisingly based around defense this time around with world class players like Alves, Marcelo, Luiz, and Silva helping guard Julio Cesar’s net. The Selecao has home turf and looks like they’ve got something to prove. Chile is explosive so I expect a tough match there for Scolari’s bunch but they should go through to play Colombia in the next round (with Suarez’s biting incident probably derailing Uruguay’s hopes and dreams) in which anyone could win. That being said, I think Neymar’s leadership and dribbling skills will be too much at the end and Hulk/Fred haven’t yet hit their stride so this team could still be just warming up.
3. The German Squad – in one word – unstoppable. Well organized, disciplined, and with a ton of dangerous players. Ozil, Muller (top goal scorer in the tournament), Kroos, Goetze, etc. The list goes on and on with this young bunch that also has veterans like Klose and Podolski. Low (the manager) showed how tough his team was against the USA in group play and I expect them to reach the WC final. They’ll be a top 4 team and they’ll do so with brilliant football and dominance in the midfield. I expect a wild match between the Germans and French in the round of 8 with Germany proving to be too deep and too experienced to lose that one.
4. Lionel Messi – the little Genius. He’ll guide the Argentines to a top 4 finish (at least). Although Kun Aguero is probably out for the tournament, Messi is a threat the second he touches the ball. Di Maria and Higuain (along with Lavezzi) should have enough sprinting and shooting in them to help the albiceleste get to the top 4 (even without Kun Aguero) but it’ll truly be the Messi show. Lil Leo seems to really want the pressure this time around and is looking to prove the doubters wrong that he can’t succeed with his national team.
Other things to watch for: The USA-Belgium game should be exciting if Jozy Altidore is fit, though that still remains a big question. If Karim Benzema continues his incredible form and goal scoring/assisting up top, I see no reason that France could pull an upset over Germany (Pogba looking good too for France), however, I’m still taking the Germans. Brazil and the Netherlands will be favorites to win their next matches but Chilean fans and Mexican enthusiasts will have something different to say about that. El tri is finally getting some wings and Memo Ochoa has been a beast in Goal. You never know if Vidal, Medel, and Sanchez could turn up the speed and the heat on Brazil, too up top.
Lastly, Switzerland could pose problems for the Argentine defense which is weak and not well balanced since the Swiss play nicely as a unit. As a US fan, Dempsey and Bradley will fight hard to get the USA on to the next round with wanting to make up for their lackluster performance (s) and offensive blunders in that German loss. I’ll be back for more updates soon including who I think will get out of the top 8 and the top 4. Stay tuned and follow me on twitter at daddychiusa/timblogssoccer0!