The Round of 16 is in the books and you’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting way for things to have developed. Of the 8 games played in the Round of 16 five of those games needed 30 extra minutes to find a victor. 2 of the 5 ended in the dreaded penalty shootout. To say the tournament turnt up is a vast understatement. I can only suspect that business will pick up as the quarterfinal draws near!
Round of 16 Results:
Brazil 1 Chile 1 A.E.T
PSO (Brazil 3-Chile 2)
Colombia 2 Uruguay 0
Netherlands 2 Mexico 1
Costa Rica 1 Greece 1 A.E.T
PSO (Costa Rica 5-Greece 3)
France 2 Nigeria 0
Germany 2 Algeria 1 A.E.T
Argentina 1 Switzerland 0 A.E.T
Belgium 2 USA 1 A.E.T
(PSO= Penalty Shoot-Out)
(A.E.T= After Extra Time)
Brazil and Chile really was one of those games that held your attention for a large portion of the match. So many close calls and at the end of extra time Chile almost stole the match only to be denied by the woodwork in the waning moments of extra time. In a nail biting shootout Brazil was able to prevail and the country collectively took a huge gasp for air followed by a euphoric sigh of relief.
Uruguay is not even close to being the same team without Luis Suarez (banned for biting). Granted the injury related absence of Falcao (tore ACL) made it a fair tradeoff. Uruguay looked stagnant for much of the match which goes to show you how one player can completely alter a game. James Rodriguez continues to dazzle spectators and added two more goals to see the Uruguayans out.
Mexico may still be crying all the way home because they practically had the match won. In the 88th minute the Dutch’s savior, Wesley Sneijder, was able to rescue his country with a brilliant strike that finally beat the sometimes invincible Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa. Minutes later Mexico made a horrible mistake with no time left as captain Rafael Marquez fouled Arjen Robben in the box. With all the pressure in the world Van Persie’s substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar put away the penalty kick and sent the Dutch flying into the next round. The Mexicans were devastated. it just goes to show you it is not how you start but how you close the deal.
Two of the surprise teams of the tournament met in a clash of the underdogs. Costa Rica and Greece put on a fine performance! Costa Rica went down to 10 men when Duarte received his second yellow card. The 10 men of Costa Rica almost made it home free until Greece scored a crazy late goal with no time left. Extra time couldn’t find a winner then Costa Rica was able to win it in the shootout.
France pretty much dominated most of the play versus Nigeria. The Nigerians did bring the game to France in the 1st 45. Over time though France just had too much class and won after a Paul Pogba header and then add insult to injury Joseph Yobo scored an own goal.
Germany and Algeria put on one hell of a show! The Algerians definitely opened some eyes with their fearless play. Algeria were thought to be overmatched but showed up and had many chances to win. The game made its way into extra time and then Andre Schurrle scored from a magnificent flick. Mesut Ozil added another but Algeria finally broke through and got a goal back. With only minutes left Germany were able to survive.
Argentina versus Switzerland was a grand grand ole slobberknocker. Messi was nothing short of magical. If anyone questions Xherdan Shaqiri’s game then please look at his performances against the world’s best in Brazil. In 118th minute as coaches were selecting their 5 shooters for the shootout Messi drove into the heart of the Swiss defense and gave Di Maria a splendid pass that Angel capitalized on. Just like that the Swiss were left scratching their heads and sulking in defeat.
The Belgiums and Americans played in yet another thriller to round out the Last 16. For much of the match the Belgians were in charge of the match proceedings. Honestly Tim Howard put on the best display of goal keeping I’ve ever seen. Howard continued to block, dive, and parry away shot after shot until the US survived regulation. In extra time Kevin De Bruyne was able to finally beat Howard. Then soon after Romelu Lukaku hit the Americans with a dagger. Still the Yanks didn’t bow down and youngster Julian Green immediately answered the Lukaku goal. The Americans pressed hard for the equalizer and came eerily close on three occasions in the last 5 minutes. The Belgians did enough to secure the win.
The Round of 16 exceeded all my expectations and the World Cup is really hitting its stride as the games only become more intense! With only nine days left it should be a fantastic finish!!! -BoSo
Germany vs. France 12:00 7.4.2014
Brazil vs. Colombia 16:00 7.4.2014
Argentina vs. Belgium 12:00 7.5.2014
Costa Rica vs. Netherlands 16:00 7.5.2014
Golden Boot Nominees (Top Goal Scorer):
James Rodriguez (COL) 5
Thomas Mueller (GER) 4
Lionel Messi (ARG) 4
Neymar Jr. (BRA) 4
Karim Benzema (FRA) 3
Arjen Robben (NED) 3
Robin Van Persie (NED) 3
Xherdan Shaqiri (SUI) 3