June 19, 2008

Moving on

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

What a disappointing game for the Swedes it was. Losing to Russia sank their hopes of moving onto the quarterfinals to face the Dutch in what would have been a sure loss. The Russians came out and played with the form that showed how they qualified over heavy favourite England. A lot of the Russian’s strong play can be attributed to Andrei Arshavin, who played his first game of the tournament after being forced to sit two games because of a previous suspension. He has the type of talent that makes him look like an all-world playmaker.

So now that the quarterfinals are set — that’s right I really don’t care that Spain’s subs beat Greece because, let’s face it, it was a meaningless game — let’s go over the matches.

Thursday sees a good ol’ powerhosue match of Portugal vs. Germany. As much as I hate to admit it, the Portuguese have the clear advantage here after resting many of their starters for their third group game. Ze Germans will also be missing their coach since he was sent off last game in a bizarre incident and may also be without their top offensive threat, Lukas Podolski. While the Germans are obviously the tougher team, the Pork Chops are more skilled and know how to draw fouls i.e. dive. Unless Ballack steps it up further and a few others play to their potential (Frings, Klose and Gomez), Portugal should advance, regrettably.

Next up is the worst looking matchup on paper: Croatia vs. Turkey. I still firmly believe that the Turks were lucky to make it this far so I would have a very hard time being convinced they can topple the superior Croats.

Russia looked dead in the water until Arshavin’s return and now they actually look like a threat. Well, then you realize that the Netherlands looked like a threat with their “B” squad playing and you realize that Russia will be outclassed come this Saturday. The only way I can see the Russians winning is with an incredible counter-attack all game long. But I have little faith in that happening.

In the last of the quarterfinal matches, Spain takes on World Cup champion Italy. This match has a huge potential for an upset. As much as I love Spain — Fernando Torres especially — the Spaniards for a way of choking when the pressure gets turned on. The Italians, on the other hand, did a good job capitalizing when France crumbled. Don’t be surprised if Italy takes it but I’ll go with Torres and Villa for at least this one.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my picks to advance went 6-for-8 with only the Czechs (who would’ve picked Turkey?) and the French (damn Italians) not making it through.

1 Comment

  1. [...] Sunday also closed out an amazing little feat for Running The Point. With their shootout victory, it made my picks go 0-4 for the quarters. In fairness, I’d only call them pseudo-picks since I wouldn’t really call them official by any [...]

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