Now that the groups are settled, and half of the teams are going home, the World Cup will start to come into its own. We’ve seen some of the usual favourites failing miserably, and as result there are some teams through that were not expected to stay in.
Europe as a continent did not do well, with only six nations getting through out of twelve – all to face another European side, though. In context, in every World Cup since 1986, the last 16 has included at least nine European squads. Africa only has one representative in Ghana, while North America and Asia each saw two sides progress. It’s the South Americans who have dominated so far, with every single representative country coming through, four as group winners with only Chile having lost one game.
None of the ties in Round 2 are easy to call, and there are some that have the potential to be classics:
Argentina – Mexico
Both are strong on the attack, and while Mexico are weaker at the back they don’t seem to be the kind of team to give up.
England – Germany
The old rivalry and both teams having not quite reached their usual level of strength means that this will be a showdown. I’ve no malice towards Germany, and hope that this will be a cracking game, whoever wins
Spain – Portugal
Normally these would be very tight games, but local rivalry and an early goal could open it right up
Brazil – Chile
Brazil aren’t the pretty side of previous tournaments – perhaps more like the 1994 team that won in the States – and Chile look dangerous on the attack.
All of the other games look like they could be interesting. What’s more with the US and Ghana meeting we are guaranteed to see a Fulham player into the Quarter Finals.