Here Come the Knockouts. Care to Make it Interesting?

I am amazed at how many members of the BigSoccer community are super geniuses. I can gather from the posts in the various forums that we have an excessive amount of I told you sos, second guessers, and see what I means. Not to mention the occasional members who concur with coaching decisions after a win. Most of you know exactly which players to insert into the line up and the formation that suits your style of play best. Who would be your ideal skipper? Alright, super geniuses. Why don’t y’all prove it to the rest of us then? You can by playing in Bigsoccer's Fantasy game.

You can play for pride in public groups. But you are so sure of your tactical ability and footie knowledge that you might as well make it a little interesting, right? If you want to back up your winning picks with a little scratch, or if you are just a degenerate gambler, there are three levels of daily cash prizes. You can win from $40 to $200 daily, depending on which level you enter.

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So as you settle in to watch the knockout stages of the World Cup, give your friends a reason to wonder why you are cheering the fact that Roque Santa Cruz just scored a meaningless goal.

So how is the World Cup working out for you so far? I’m guessing for most of you it is going along quite swimmingly, thank you very much. There are the unfortunate few whose teams have packed up and headed out of Africa and have to wait 4 grueling years to get it going again. Better luck next time. Players from 16 teams are left to shoulder the burden of their countries’ hopes and dreams.

I am not one to post predictions very often. I would rather y’all think I was an idiot instead of giving you the empirical evidence to validate such claims. But it is the World Cup, so here we go.

Uruguay vs. South Korea - Port Elizabeth
South Korea has yet to beat a South American team in a World Cup, and they will be hard pressed to change history against the Celestes. While everyone lavishes praise on the South American juggernauts, the Uruguayans lie in the weeds. They have the defense, the midfield, the strike force and the luck of the draw to make it to the semi-finals for the first time in 40 years. If they do have a chink in the armor, it is defensive speed. It won’t matter in this match. Uruguay takes it.

USA vs. Ghana - Rustenburg
All of the goodwill the Yanks have generated Stateside could vanish instantly if the USA fails to defeat the Ghanaians. If they Americans can handle the new found spotlight as well as avoid the emotional hangover from the Algeria game, they should advance. But Ghana will pose a very formidable challenge for the US, and I expect they’ll be quite content to take their chances from the spot. The better keeper prevails, USA moves on.

Germany vs. England -Bloemfontein
I never thought there could be fanbase that is more fatalist than Mexico’s, but England comes awfully close. While England are staring at the very real possibility of yet another bitterly disappointing end to a Three Lions’ World Cup campaign, I have a sneaky feeling their world cup is just beginning. The Germans started the tournament with their hair on fire, but have since cooled considerably. They have been shown to be mere mortals, and their collective inexperience on the international stage will catch up to them on Sunday.

Argentina vs. Mexico - Soccer City

Argentina has more firepower than anyone else in the tournament and it is a lot to ask for Mexico to shackle them for 90 minutes. If Mexico is to have any chance of winning, they have to score first. One way they can do it is to exploit Argentina’s back line with their speed, and with the likelihood that Argentina will control ball possession, the counter attack might be Mexico’s best option. The fan in me says Mexico pulls it off. The unbiased analyst says Argentina takes advantage of Mexico’s carelessness. But what does that guy know?

Holland vs. Slovakia - Durban
Slovakia won themselves a legion of fans by knocking Italy out of the tournament, and their reward is a date with a team that looks to be getting stronger as the tournament progresses. The Dutch are playing well, appear to be getting along, and are in a collision course with Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Brazil vs. Chile - Johannesburg
Chile survived the Spanish onslaught and Chiquidracula’s insatiable appetite for fame. Now they get Brazil. They might be able to handle Brazil. The problem for la Roja is Brazil can easily, laughably, handle them. The results in their last few tournament matches speak for themselves. This one won’t be any different.

Paraguay vs. Japan - Pretoria
Japan had never won a World Cup game outside of Japan, but that all changed in South Africa as they defeated the more pedigreed Cameroon and Denmark. The Blue Samurai, who mastered the art of the free kick to defeat the Danes, play Paraguay, who are masters of the firm and steady. On paper, this looks like the most drab of match-ups, which usually means it will end up being the best. We’ll give it to Paraguay.

Spain vs. Portugal - Capetown
Portugal might actually have to exert itself in a match. Or will they stick to the game plan they used to scratch out two goalless draws in Group G. Could it be that the best thing to happen to Spain was lose their first match? Spain usually loses just once in the World Cup, it just so happens that the loss comes when they can least afford it. Now that it’s out of the way….