The wheat has been separated from the chaff and we can now start making predictions and deductions from what we have observed from the group stages of the 21st showing of the biggest footballing event in the world.
The following are my observations and my predictions for the knockout stages.
The 2nd round of the world cup comprises of 4 southern African teams (CONEMBOL), 10 Europeans, 1 from CONCACAF and 1 from Asia. Africa failed to come to the party and in fact going into the last games of the group stage only 1 of them (Senegal) had a realistic chance and another (Nigeria) with a slim chance, both failed in those games and in similar manners, late goals conceded from set plays.
The biggest surprise was the ouster of the defending champions and one of the favorites, the Germans. Perhaps it wasn’t a surprise giving that in recent times defending champions have been falling out in the first round, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014, but this was a German side that had always gotten to at least the semifinal stage of every major competition under Joachim low and had a mix of players that won in 2014 and the new breeds coming through who had also won the confederation cup in Russia just last year, perhaps they just has gone full cycle and like the popular saying “what goes up…….”
3 teams went perfect at the group stage ( Belgium, Croatia and Uruguay) and it’s no coincidence they were the most impressive teams too, Uruguay didn’t concede a goal and the Belgians with enough firepower to blow up a village have racked up the highest number of goals 9.
The Croats have impressed me the most with their formidable midfield and expansive wing plays; I reckon they will go as far as the semis and from that stage on who knows. This year might also witness a new champion, with an eye on Portugal taking on Uruguay, the winner of that fixture will get to the finals. The Brazilians won’t be finalist and England not going past the Colombians. Watch out for the Belgians if they make the semis you never can tell.