The header was the exact words that resonated in my head as I watched ENGLAND hold their nerves and complete as the final entrant into the quarter finals of the world cup. If we had thought that all the upsets and last minute winners plus penalty decisions had gone with the group stage and you assume you can now breathe easy, then think again. This world cup has gone down has one of the most unpredictable and unforeseeable (except for the teams living the fairy tale themselves) and we haven’t started the quarter finals yet, “motherland” has served up so much in just 2 rounds and she promises more to come.
Round of 16 was every bit as exciting as the first round and we had the biggest upset of them all when the host battled through 120 mins of football against the almighty SPANIARDS and only conceded a goal but scored one themselves, as if that wasn’t enough they went ahead and knocked SPAIN out via the lottery and thus put their names in the history of RUSSIAN FOOTBALL.
URUGUAY showed us that a team is better than one superstar as they defeated Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese support cast. The ENGLISH finally won a penalty shootout and the less said about the ARGENTINES the better, at least we got some good out of that, Maradona can rest easy and his blood pressure can get normal again. But the country that won our hearts was JAPAN, the JAPANESE got knocked out by the BELGIANS by virtually the last kick of the game despite having led by 2 goals at a point in the 2nd half, call it tactical naivety or inexperience but both teams gave us a game we would talk about for years to come.
Despite the heart wrenching loss their fans still stayed behind to clean up after themselves like they have done at every match they have attended, kudos JAPAN the world does not deserve you.
We have 4 past winners left, URUGUAY, FRANCE, BRAZIL and ENGLAND and it is finely balanced by 4 dream chasers CROATIA, RUSSIA, SWEDEN and BELGIUM. All teams are 3 wins away from Eldorado and it is not unthinkable to think this world cup that has brought us so much upset might give us a new champion. Below are the gladiators and how they face off.
Friday 6 July
France vs Uruguay – Nizhny Novgorod, 3pm
Brazil vs Belgium – Sochi, 7pm
Saturday 7 July
Sweden vs England – Samara, 3pm
Russia vs Croatia – Kazan, 7pm
Did I hear you say predictions??? It will take a big and brave man to make one at this world cup and I must tell you I am a petit guy plus I’d lose a one on one battle with a cockroach. But allow me to make suggestions and infer a bit. Brazil are the favorites for the tournament but they face a formidable Belgian side that also cannot afford complacency like they did against the Japanese, the game can go either way but my only guarantee to happen is Neymar doing an old dogs trick “rollover”. Surely this Russians are human and must have run out of fuel, they practically ran on empty in the victory over Spain but who am I to tell them that, the Croats will have their hands full. France against Uruguay will be tough and feisty, I see this going to penalties and as for the English taking on the Swedes well, England look good for the semis.