Saude!

I’m loving the World Cup. It’s been a particularly exciting tournament this time around, with entertaining, attacking football played in the Brazilian sunshine. I’m up every night watching the highlights and listening to the analysis. Watching the games is more problematic given the time difference, but I guess I’ve watched half a dozen games in part, maybe more.

There have been some absolutely cracking games and spectacular moments, as well as patches of high drama. Unlike most years it seems pretty wide open. There’s no clear favourite, and it will depend on how the next matches fall.

As of now we the round of 16 matches are done and the quarter-finals are next. For me the match I’m really looking forward to is the Germany-France match. This is a grudge match in so many ways, a couple of world wars, the war of 1870, not to mention the semi final back in 1982. That’s famous for the German goalkeeper, Harald Schumacher, pole-axing a French player when Germany were 3-1 down. They got it to 3-3 from there, and won in the penalty shoot-out.

It’s a match I actually remember watching. I can recall Schumacher going in very hard against the French forward, and the Frenchman lying still on the ground. Schumacher was not a popular man then, or since. Germany made the final only to be beaten by Italy. I remember that too, and the irresistible Paolo Rosso who had the tournament of his life.

All of this is in the mix come Tuesday when Germany and France meet again. It’s hard to pick. Germany have France on rankings, but France is playing some very dashing football. Still, it’s hard to go against Germany in big matches.

The winner of that will play the winner of Brazil and Colombia. That should be another great game, but I’m tipping Colombia. In actual fact I think Colombia can go all the way.

On the other side of the draw the Netherlands take on Costa Rica. The Netherlands should win that, though the Ticos have been brave.

Then Argentina play Belgium. Argentina are doing enough to win, in large part thanks to Messi’s brilliance, and are improving every match. They’re efficient, but I expect them to make the final.

Belgium are flaky. I watched them against the US. They had so many opportunities but they fluffed them. How many times did they kick it straight at the goalkeeper? They were good enough to be 4-nil up to 10 minutes to go in extra time, maybe more, rather than 2-0 as it was. Then they panicked, and lost composure like a bunch of under 11’s who have had too much raspberry cordial.

They have the talent to beat Argentina, I just doubt they have the fortitude. To have any chance I think their coach needs to let them off the leash, and win it brilliantly. If they do that, and maintain that form, they can win it all. I just doubt it will happen.

At this stage my tip for champions is Colombia, probably against Argentina. Germany the dark horse.

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