The knockout stage continues with the rest of the lot matching up in the jostle for glory.
Set your DVRs, plan your late long lunches, etc. The Champions League is back. If you're a follower of European club football, you're excited as we are. If not, but you plan to watch the World Cup this summer, this is the competition you need to watch to get ready. Here are our previews of this week's four first leg matches, with a focus on which players to watch on each team (and a particular focus on players that will feature prominently at the World Cup this summer): Man City-Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen-PSG, Arsenal-Bayern Munich and AC Milan-Atlético Madrid.
[Editor’s note: this post was written the morning of Friday July 2, prior to Holland’s upset of Brazil. We will need to update this post for Friday’s victory–the most significant in Dutch history at least since dramatic quarterfinal win over Argentina in 1998 (see video below), and perhaps since winning Euro ’88 over the USSR.]
Today’s first quarterfinal match may just be the most anticipated of the bunch–Brazil vs. Holland. It’s a contest between two great footballing nations, both known over the decades for playing beautiful football–technically precise, individually and tactically creative, seemingly able to maintain possession as long as they want–and for producing some of the greatest players of all time. From Brazil: Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Romario, Garrincha, and of course Pele. From the Netherlands: Ruud van Nistelroy, Denis Bergkamp, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, and the greatest and original Dutch master, Johan Cryuff.
Where Brazil and Holland differ, of course, is in their records of World Cup success. Brazil has won the Cup five times, more than any other nation–in 1958, 1966, 1970 (those three with Pele on the squad), 1994, and 2002.
By way of comparison, Italy has won four times, Germany three (twice as West Germany), Argentina and Uruguay twice each, and England and France once each.
Conspicuously absent from that list is Holland. The Dutch have come close–twice in a row finishing in 2nd place, both times losing to the hosts: to West Germany in 1974 and to Argentina in 1978, and advancing to the semifinals in 1998, only to lose to Brazil in a penalty shootout.
The final contest of the Round of 16 kicks off at 2:30pm ET–an intra-Iberian matchup involving powerhouses Portugal and Spain. The winner will get slotted into the remaining quarterfinal match, taking on surprise quarterfinalist Paraguay on Saturday.
We’ll be watching the game from the awesome PlayBeautifulNYC popup virtual stadium in Soho/Nolita. We’re not sure if they have wifi–if so, we’ll be liveblogging from there; if not, we’ll try to post to the comment thread from our phones, but we’ll count on you to provide most of the color commentary!
We are 45 minutes from kickoff. Starting lineups and the ever-present comment box after the jump!
[Final Score: Paraguay 0 – Japan 0; Paraguay advances by winning PK shootout 5-3.
Paraguay advances to a quarterfinal matchup against the winner of Spain-Portugal (the last Round of 16 match, to be played later today at 2:30pm ET). Japan goes home, their hopes of representing Asia further in the tournament dashed.]
This is by far the most unexpected matchup of the Round of 16, with neither country having advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup before. Paraguay will be attempting to make the quarterfinals 50% South American (!), with Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil having already advanced over the past 3 days. On the other hand, Japan is trying to become the first Asian side to advance to the quarterfinals since South Korea in 2002.
We’ll again be sporadically liveblogging–we will post scoring plays, details about individual players, and observations about the general run of play. We’ll count on you to provide color via the comments!
We are about 15 minutes from kickoff! Starting lineups and a very welcoming and empty comment box after the jump!
This could very well be the big upset of the tournament, though Brazil have bested the Chilean side 46 times (and lost only 7). Chile have looked strong, however, and Brazil haven’t really put on the flair to which we’re accustomed. Check out these comments about Chile’s quality by the father of total football himself, Johan Cruyff.
Brazil will be happy to have Kaka back from suspension, meaning Baptista will be taking a seat. Chile have Carmona and Fernandez ready, but don’t have the excellent Marco Estrada at their disposal. They’re also without Medel and Ponce — all three to suspension.
We’ll be sporadic on this one, familial responsibilities, etc. Starting lineups and some commentary after the bump! Your comments welcome!
[Final score: Netherlands 2 – 1 Slovakia (Robben 17′, Sneijder 84′; Vittek 93′)
The Dutch advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1998. They will face the winner of this afternoon’s Brazil-Chile match.]
The 2nd half of the Round of 16 begins this morning with the Netherlands taking on surprising Slovakia. The Netherlands are heavily favored to win this matchup. They came into the tournament as a dark horse to go all the way, and they didn’t disappoint (unlike some other European sides) in winning all three of their games in Group E.
Slovakia, on the other hand, shocked the world by eliminating Italy and advancing in 2nd place out of Group F. They’ll be attempting to pull off another upset in Durban today.
Starting lineups, players to watch, live entries and your comments, all after the jump!
It was a great weekend of WC football, as the Round of 16 got underway with 2 matches on Saturday and 2 matches on Sunday. We’re halfway to the quarterfinals being set, with 2 more matches today.
On Saturday, Uruguay defeated South Korea 2-1 to move into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1970, and the USA crashed out against Ghana in extra time, also by a score of 2-1. The CultFootball team liveblogged both games, here and here.
Sunday offered two highly anticipated matchups. England and Germany added another memorable installment to their long and heated rivalry, with Germany destroying the English 4-1, in a game that will be remembered for the stunning German counterattack, and for a clear “Wembley goal” for England that the referees completely missed.
In the afternoon game, Argentina pulled away from Mexico 3-1, although this game too was marred by an officiating error, with goalscorer Carlos Tevez clearly offside on Argentina’s first goal. The extended CultFootball team commented extensively on both games in entertaining open threads here and here.
That sets up a huge quarterfinal matchup between Argentina and Germany, to be played Saturday (10am ET). The other quarterfinal matchup that’s set is Uruguay vs. Ghana, Friday 2:30pm ET.
We’ve got two more Round of 16 games today: the Netherlands kickoff against Slovakia in just over 30 minutes, followed by Brazil against Chile later in the day (potentially setting up yet another tremendous quarterfinal match!).
We’ll cover both of today’s games via liveblogs/open threads..join us for the action!