Friday, June 11, 2010

2010 World Cup Preview: Knockout Stage Predictions

The World Cup starts today. If you're not bouncing out of your chair with excitement, well, you're like most Americans.


But here's the deal. Saturday afternoon we have a chance to get retribution on the British for BP.


Go America.


Obviously, American soccer fans are going to be interested in what their national team is doing. However, here are some other matches you're definitely going to want to set the DVR for.


Top Five Opening Round Matches
(in chronological order)


Argentina - Nigeria
June 12 10am EST


This promises to be a fast-paced, wide-open game. Though a rarity in soccer, this one could end up 5-4. Both teams are talented on the offensive end and weak on defense. That could mean a lot of goals as neither plays a particularly defensive-minded game.


England - USA
June 12 2:30pm EST


Read some Thomas Paine. Get angry about the Gulf oil spill. Think about how much you hate Mr. Collins. Don't know who Mr. Collins is and why you should hate him? Put down Twilight and read some real literature.


Netherlands - Denmark
June 14 7:30am EST


Two talented teams that have their eyes on deep runs in the tournament. Denmark isn't really on anyone's radar after struggling against tough teams in qualifying. The Netherlands is the best team never to have won the World Cup.


Brazil - Cote d'Ivoire
June 20 2:30pm EST


The #1 team in the world against the best team in Africa. On African soil. One of the best strikers in the world (Ivory Coast's Drogba) will be playing with a broken arm. Ivory Coast may not win this game, but it's a big chance for African soccer to prove they belong on the big stage with the big boys.


Brazil - Portugal
June 25 10am EST


Any time two of the top 3 teams in the FIFA world rankings go at it, it's a big deal. The final day of group play, these two teams may be battling for a spot in the elimination round if Ivory Coast happens to upset one of them earlier in the tournament.




In the second round of the tournament, teams who finished 2nd in their group face teams that finished first. Here is a look at how the World Cup bracket will go down:


Based on our predictions for the Opening Round of the tournament, here are how our brackets would look:


Ian's Bracket
Uruguay - Nigeria
USA - Ghana
Netherlands - Paraguay
Brazil - Chile

South Africa - Argentina
England - Germany
Denmark - Italy
Portugal - Spain



Cory's Bracket
France - Greece
USA - Serbia
Netherlands - Paraguay
Brazil - Chile

Mexico - Argentina
England - Germany
Cameroon - Italy
Portugal - Spain

But what fun are the predictions if they just stop there? We obviously know everything there is to know about international soccer, as you could gather from our erudite previews. Therefore, we figure we might as well go ahead and tell you where you should put your money before the tournament even starts.

Ian's Final Eight
Nigeria
USA
Netherlands
Brazil
Argentina
England
Italy
Spain


Cory's Final Eight
France
USA
Netherlands
Brazil
Argentina
Germany
Italy
Spain


Now that we skimmed off the fluff, we're left with the creme de la creme. My high school English teacher called his AP kids that. One of the cool aspects of the World Cup is that there is a consolation game for 3rd place. While this may not really matter because there's no bronze medal, it means that getting into the final four guarantees you two more games. Here are our predictions for how the stones will fall after the final games are played.

Fourth Place

Ian's Prediction:
Italy disposes of Spain in the quarterfinals but their age finally catches up with them and they get beat by Argentina in the semi-finals. I predict they lose the 3rd place game in a shootout.

Cory's Prediction:


Italy is pretty good. They will choke. Bank it.


Third Place

Ian's Prediction:
An amazing run for the American team. If they can get by England on emotion the opening weekend of the tournament, they'll be in perfect shape for a deep run. If it goes down as I predict, they'll be able to avoid facing a Top 15 team in the world between England and the Semi-Finals, where they will be promptly stomped on by Brazil. The Americans bounce back and beat the Italians on penalty kicks for the 3rd place prize, the best finish ever in the nation's history.

Cory's Prediction:



Brazil is real good. Not this year.


Second Place

Ian's Prediction:
The current #1 team in the world will face a ton of pressure coming in to the title match. Will they be able to live up to the hype? France has proven to be their Achilles Heel before, an a team that plays a possession-focused game could be their downfall. In the end, they have too much firepower for most teams to deal with. Chances are the championship game goes to penalty kicks again.

Cory's Prediction:


Argentina ain't too bad. They will get it done and finish in second place to...

World Cup Champion

Ian's Prediction:
No European team has ever won the World Cup outside of European soil and that trend continues here. Argentina might not be the most complete team in the tournament, but they have the goal scorers to carry them on a deep run. If they do bring the trophy home, coach Maradona will be able to run over as many reporters as he wants with his car and no one will care.

Cory's Prediction:


If you didn't think I am going to pick the United States then you must be high. I thought Ian might pick the United States too but then I realized he is a traitor and doesn't love America at all. He might as well move to Philadelphia. America shocks the world.


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