After the game in which Mexico lost to the Netherlands, several people asked me if the World Cup was over for me. In a sense, it was over for me. I didn’t want to see the joy in other people’s faces as their teams moved on and mine failed to do so because of a bogus penalty call in the last minute of the game. But these things happen, and I’m okay with it. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing teams from the Americas move on and maintain that old adage of “America para los americanos” or “America for the Americans.” Never has a team from outside the Americas won a tournament held in the Americas.
I told you my predictions last time, and I was 6 for 8, with only the Netherlands – Mexico and France – Nigeria games ruining my streak. I told you that Brazil would “barely” beat Chile, and that was very much the case. Chile played the most perfect game they could to challenge the hosts, and they took the game all the way to a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play. I also told you that Colombia would beat Uruguay because Uruguay was nothing without Suarez, and they did, winning 2 to 0 in a dominating performance.
We know what happened with Mexico, so we won’t go there.
I told you Costa Rica would defeat Greece, but I didn’t think it would go all the way to penalty shots. It was a very entertaining game, with Greece tying it up in the last seconds to take it to overtime. I also told you that Nigeria would defeat France, but that was not to be. As one of my friends put it, “Set pieces (corner kicks and such) are the achilles heel of the Nigerians.” Germany then defeated Algeria with no problem.
Finally, Argentina struggled to beat the Swiss in overtime. It was closer than I thought it would be. Lionel Messi, one of the best (if not the best) in the world had trouble playing all by himself against such a big and strong team in Switzerland. And the United States were dominated and overwhelmed by Belgium, with only Tim Howard defending the honor of the Americans. In overtime, however, Belgium finally broke through and scored two goals, with a late goal giving some home to the USA. It was too little too late, though.
So the round of 8 is set, and here are my predictions:
- Germany beats France. These are two big powers in the European region, but Germany are in the tournament with a better team, more coordinated and more tested. It may be a close game just because of the European style of play, but Germany should pull through. Eins, zwei, drei!
- Colombia beats Brazil. I know, right? This is going to be a shocker, and I’m afraid it might throw Brazil into several hours of rioting, especially if it comes down to a referee call. But Colombia just look better than Brazil right now. They got through their group and through Uruguay without much of a problem. I may get this wrong, but it will be historic if I don’t.
- Argentina defeats Belgium. Yes, Belgium is looking strong, and some even labeled them as the “dark horse” of the competition. But Argentina is virtually playing at home, and they have proven to have an ace up the sleeve in Messi. He comes out of nowhere to create opportunities for his teammates, and what he can do is simply magical. Belgium don’t have that individual star, but they do have a team. Look for this to be a close game, maybe even going into overtime.
- Netherlands defeats Costa Rica. The Costa Rica players are living a dream. Never had they gone this far into the competition, and they look strong. The things they did against England and Italy in the group stage will not go unnoticed by the Dutch. So expect the Dutch to adjust accordingly. I really wish Netherlands loses because of the cheating dive that took out Mexico, but they’re just too much of a team compared to Costa Rica.
So there you have it. We’ll see two South America – Europe semifinal games next week, and then a South American final… I hope.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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