World Cup Preview: Knockout Stage

June 8, 2010
By K. Becks

Okay, so maybe I was wrong. The hype for Stephen Strasburg was about as great, if not greater, than the hype for Bryce Harper is and will be. The guy was a monster tonight; seven innings pitched, two earned runs, four hits, fourteen strikeouts, and the icing on the cake, a win. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nationals Park as excited and as into a baseball game as the fans were tonight. Strasburg has arrived, which means more than just quality outings every five days for the Nationals. It means more ticket sales, more jersey sales, and an actual fear from opposing clubs, something that has been relatively foreign to the Nationals up to this point. Still think that the hype for Strasburg has been blown out of proportion? Go watch the highlights from tonight’s Nationals game, and you’ll see why Strasburg was worthy of it.

In my final World Cup preview post, I will list my picks for the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final. I will give a description on each potential matchup starting with the semifinal games. To make it easy on my readers, I also put in parenthesis where each of these teams came from Group-wise.

Round of 16

France (1st in Group A) vs. Nigeria (2nd in Group B)
Winner: France
England (1st in Group C) vs. Ghana (2nd in Group D)
Winner: England
Netherlands (1st in Group E) vs. Paraguay (2nd in Group F)
Winner: Netherlands
Brazil (1st in Group G) vs. Chile (2nd in Group H)
Winner: Brazil

Germany (1st in Group D) vs. United States (2nd in Group C)
Winner: Germany
Argentina (1st in Group B) vs. Mexico (2nd in Group A)
Winner: Argentina
Italy (1st in Group F) vs. Cameroon (2nd in Group E)
Winner: Cameroon
Spain (1st in Group H) vs. Ivory Coast (2nd in Group G)
Winner: Spain

Quarterfinals

France vs. England
Winner: England
Netherlands vs. Brazil
Winner: Brazil

Germany vs. Argentina
Winner: Argentina
Cameroon vs. Spain
Winner: Spain

Semifinals

England vs. Brazil
Winner: England

For the first time in the tournament, Brazil’s lack of style will catch up to them. In past tournaments, Brazil has stressed playing the game beautifully just as much as actually winning the game. This year, that isn’t the case. However, England is a team that has the talent to match up with Brazil, and Brazil will not be able to physically muscle their way past England like they will be able to do against other teams. This is the end of the road for the Selecao, whose fans will be disappointed beyond belief.

Argentina vs. Spain
Winner: Spain

South America will go 0-2 in semifinal matches at this year’s World Cup, with Argentina losing a close battle with Spain. Messi has the sheer talent and will to carry his team this far, but Spain has too many weapons to let him single handedly take his team to the final. This game will be exciting, and Argentina will likely leave South Africa wondering what could have been. However, they will have done a good job if they make it this far.

Third Place Game

Brazil vs. Argentina
Winner: Brazil

Not much to say about this game. The disappointment from both teams will likely be visible on the field, but Brazil will manage to score enough to win this game against their South American rivals. We know where Brazil really wants to be, but for now they’ll have to take solace in being the best South America has to offer.

2010 World Cup Final

England vs. Spain
Winner: Spain

After 12 unsuccessful tries, Spain will finally win their first World Cup with lucky number 13. They have talent at every position, and will not succumb to the pressure of being one of the co-favorites to win the World Cup before it starts. Xavi, Fernando Torres, David Villa; these will be the men that will forever be remembered in Spain, as the men who finally broke through and delivered the biggest sports honor to their country. World Cup Champions.

Obviously, my readers are going to have some opinions that differ from my own. Please, let me hear your thoughts. Either leave a comment in the comments section, or send me an email at aroundthecornsportsblog@gmail.com. Hopefully, at the very least, this preview got you excited for the world’s favorite tournament. Maybe you even learned something that will make your viewing more pleasurable. Anyway, thanks a lot to all my readers. I can’t wait until Friday; it should be fun to watch.

- K. Becks

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