I didn’t predict any of the upsets: not Croatia over Germany, nor the stunning Turkey win over Czechs, nor Russia, nor The Netherlands being so radtastic, but other than that I did alright.
Actually fuck that: I just calculated: I picked 5 of the 8 teams who advanced: not much better than one could have done by chance or trained monkey:
With that track record there’s only one thing to do:
I’m going to pick the teams and the scorelines and goal-getters for the Quarterfinals. Now that you know I know what I’m talking about you’re going to want to follow very closely my masterpunditry.
Portugal vs. Germany
Goals: Nuno Gomes, Lahm, Carvalho,
Two early favorites go to the Thunderdome to settle their post-apocalyptic differences: only one will advance. That team: Portugal. Portugal’s second string lost to Switzerland, which I thought was a nice way to repay their hosts. They deserve to advance on the basis of their very good guest manners.
Actually that momentum screech may be the one thing they’re fighting (besides Germany). Germany has looked pretty good, but not great and unless their highly-touted but invisible-thus-far Gomez shows up with some magic they might just find themselves overpowered by Crissy Ron Ron and the Portuguese attack. Also: their coach will be watching from the stands after he was banished last game, and UEFA has decided to carry over that banishment for another game.
Croatia vs. Turkey
Goal: Nihat Kahveci
I’m going to pick an upset this round so if it comes true I can look prescient, and if it doesn’t people will be so busy thinking about the semis they won’t even care.
After Turkey’s madcap thriller over the Czech’s I’m willing to bet they could throw another surprise party. Croatia has been quietly powerful and dominant all tournament but Turkey is riding a high. I’m backing raw emotion and another last minute improbable comeback. Hey Turkey: go put that lightning back in that bottle!!
Holland vs Russia
Goals: Van Persie, Kuyt, Arshavin, Sneijder
This game will be rad. Holland is the fastest, smartest, most in-form team of the tournament and should easily overpower Russia easily. Easily. However, the impressive performance the Russkies put in against the Swedes last night leads me to think that we’ll be in for a game full of crisp passes and creative counter-attacks, from both sides. I’m going to predict a goal in the first 10 minutes, then a see-saw battle, with Holland capitalizing again before the break, then they’ll swap goals on the hour mark. Why am I getting so specific, you ask? Because I gotta feeling – a gutfeeling.
Spain vs Italy
Goals: Villa, Panucci, Iniesta, Toni, De Rossi
I’m predicting a goal fest that I don’t really think is coming, but would really really like to see. The David Villa Finishing School for Footballers (DVFSF) has had an impressive recruitment campaign, with a few teams (particularly Russia) feeling pretty hazed by the proceedings. The Spanish attack has been dominating and the defence untroubled. Iniesta and Silva have looked particularly adept at feeding balls through to El Nino and The Headmaster.
However, the new alignment of Italian defence (Panucci and Chiellini flanked by Grosso and Zambrotta) has pace and poise enough to soak up most of the pressure. Not to mention De Rossi patrolling the midfield closing down space. The suspension of Pirlo and Gattuso is troubling on paper, however I think Italy has enough midfield depth to compensate. Expect to see Ambrosini and Camoranesi join De Rossi and Perrotta in midfield. Although if we’re lucky Ambrosini will sit on the bench and Aquilani will come on and show everybody how much awesome he has. If Ambrosini does play, hopefully he doesn’t suck. Also: let’s hope Luca Toni watches and learns from David Villa; after being the Bundesliga top scorer this season it’s surprising that he has seemed to be unable to locate the oppositions goal- it’s there Luca!! Right in front of you. Put the ball between the the tall white things!!!
Anyway, I think he will. He’ll break the monkey on the ducks back (or whatever) and Italy will continue to improve. Spain will continue to crap out too early in major tournaments and thus spend all summer wringing their hands and eating tapas in the sunshine.*
*If Spain was playing anybody other than Italy I’d will them through, but alas, it’s Forza Italia!