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Bob Weiser started playing soccer as a youth and has been following the sport ever since, dating back to days of watching the Bundesliga on PBS on Saturday afternoons.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quarterfinal predictions

Germany vs. Argentina. Brazil vs. Netherlands. Sounds like a couple of matchups you'd expect to see in the World Cup finals. Instead, we get them this weekend in the quarterfinals.

Here is a look at the four quarterfinal matchups:

Germany vs. Argentina

There has already been a lot of debate on the internet about this game. Argentina was a major question mark coming into the tournament - Diego Maradnna's crew struggled in qualifying. But when you have Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez, no one wants to play you. Argentina has been the most entertaining team in the World Cup and leads all teams with 10 goals. But there are questions about the back four - specificially Martin DeMichelis. As for Germany, Miroslav Klose struggled coming into the World Cup, but this is the World Cup and Klose has found the groove again in South Africa. He has scored twice to give him 12 career World Cup goals, just three shy of Ronaldo's record of 15. Like Argentina, Germany has questions in the back four. Potentially bad news for Argentina: Messi missed practice Thursday. He won't miss the game, though.
Prediction: Argentina 4, Germany 3

Netherlands vs. Brazil

A matchup of epic proportions. Brazil has been nothing short of the best all-around team in the tournament. Holland has been its usual entertaining self. Brazil doesn't have the question marks in the back that the Netherlands does. The Netherlands got a big lift with the return of Arjen Robben when it beat Slovakia, 2-1. Brazil, on the other hand, will be one of its top subs as midfielder Elano is out with an ankle injury. Brazil has plenty of other options, though, from Robinho to Luis Fabiano to Kaka to Maicon. The Netherlands counters with Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt, Robben and Robin Von Persie. In the end, Brazil is just a little better defensively.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Netherlands 1

Spain vs. Paraguay
Spain has never reached the World Cup semifinals. That seems hard to believe, but it's also hard to imagine Spain not beating Paraguay. This has been a tournament dominated by South America - and there stands a good chance of three of the four semifinalists being from South America, too. Maybe Paraguay will play better than it did against Japan. Paraguay was passive. Maybe it can duplicate that against Spain and Xavi, David Villa and Co., but it will be 10 times more difficult than it was against Japan. If it can get to penalty kicks, Paraguay has the benefit of having already experienced that and Spain could crack under the pressure. It won't get to penalty kicks, though. David Villa has been having an outstanding World Cup and it will continue.
Prediction: Spain 2, Paraguay 0

Uruguay vs. Ghana
Probably would have had a hard time finding too may people who had both of these teams in the quarterfinals. Uruguay has been led by Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, who have combined for five goals. Ghana, of course, is the team that ended the dreams of the United States with an extra time goal last weekend. Ghana's top two scorers - Asamoah Gyan and Kevin Prince Boateng - are both battling injuries. Gyan was hurt in practice this week and Boateng has a hamstring problem that could keep him out. Without that firepower, Ghana will have a hard time keeping up. Both will probably try to play, but neither will be 100 percent.
Prediction: Uruguay 2, Ghana 1


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