The Usual Suspects
With the second round over, it’s pretty much The Usual Suspects left. 6 European teams, 2 from South America – the lone North American (Mexico), Oceanic (Australia) and African (Ghana) representatives have been sent home. None of the Asian teams made the knockout rounds – unlike last time. So, here’s my thoughts on who’s left.
I’m a sucker for the underdog, so I’m a bit sad that 6 of the 8 remaining teams are past champions. I haven’t looked it up, but I want to say that every past champion who actually qualified for the World Cup (sorry, Uruguay) is still alive – so this really is a case of the same old, same old. 4 years ago, we had the US, South Korea, and Senegal in the quarterfinals – with Turkey and South Korea in the semis. 8 years ago we had a 3 teams in the semifinals who had never won the Cup before.
The lack of surprise teams, however, does make for some really enticing matchups this weekend. I’m still seriously considering heading out to Crew Stadium to catch Argentina-Germany, and the ’98 rematch between France and Brazil could prove interesting (just not as interesting as Spain-Brazil would have been). I’m secretly hoping that the Ukraine will knock off Italy just to keep things from getting too staid – but realistically whichever team wins from that match will probably lose to either Argentina or Germany.
In the final, I’ll take any team but Brazil. I’m sorry – I know its fashionable to claim Brazil as your second-favorite team, but I can’t root for a team that’s already won 5 World Cups when their next closest competitor has 3 titles. Nor for a country that’s made the last 3 World Cup Finals. It’s been a great run, guys – but it’s time for some new blood at the top.
How passionate would a Brazil-Argentina final be? Or England-Argentina? Or England-Germany?