So, two weeks into the World Cup, the group stages are coming to an end and teams are starting to punch their tickets to the second round. Is anyone looking interesting? Are there any teams who are going to rise above the rest? Let’s find out!
All right, I got a little distracted this week. Who’s in, who’s out?
IN: Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Argentina, Belgium, Nigeria, France, Switzerland, USA, Germany, Algeria
OUT: Bosnia-Herzegovina, England, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Spain, Australia, Croatia, Cameroon, Iran, Ecuador, Honduras, Ghana, Portugal, Russia, South Korea
How’s the US doing? Are we still in it?
YEAH WE ARE! After a brutal, hard fought 2-2 with Portugal in Manaus, which featured this stunner of a goal from Jermaine Jones and this one from Clint Dempsey, we trekked back to Recife to face Germany needing a win or a tie to secure our place in the second round. We didn’t get either of those and lost 1-0, but Portugal’s win over Ghana ensured that we went through thanks to our lead in goal differential.
Who’s looking good going into the second round?
Really the only two teams that have impressed me so far have been Germany and the Netherlands, but don’t count out Brazil, Argentina, France or Belgium yet. As for surprises, I think Costa Rica, Mexico, USA and Colombia have a good chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.
Did I miss any highlights?
THE BITE. Yes, that’s right- in the closing minutes of Italy vs Uruguay, Uruguayan star Luis ‘Bitey’ Suarez, bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini (Don’t worry- he’s been slapped with a lengthy ban for it.). Oh, and France scored two goals in about seventy seconds during their 5-2 demolition of Switzerland last Friday. That was pretty cool.
Here are the matches to watch during the second round:
Saturday June 28
Brazil vs Chile, 11 a.m., ABC
Now we get to find out just how good Chile is and just how serious Brazil is about winning the World Cup on home soil.
Sunday June 29
Netherlands vs Mexico, 11 a.m., ESPN
El Tri woke up for a 3-1 win against Croatia and the Dutch will be ready to rumble. This one should be fun.
Tuesday, July 1
USA vs Belgium, 3 p.m., ESPN
The USA takes on the country that invented french fries and the waffle. Pretty much the most American thing ever.