World Cup – The Last 16 by David Rawnsley
Cornwall ON –
And now the fun begins – one-game, winner-takes-all, high stakes poker. No room for errors, no room for mistakes, no extra goals hanging around for the taking, as I might once have said, “this is for all the marbles.”
Sixteen teams in positions assigned by their results in the group stages, knowing who they will likely meet in the next round as they battle to get passed this one.
Knowing that along the way is a Brazil or Argentina, drawn in opposite sides of the draw so that perhaps they can both grace the final. But upsets are ready and willing to happen as witnessed by the early journey home of recent winners France and current holders Italy – two massive upsets.
As I project winners and losers for each game I have narrowed my final four to Brazil, England, Spain and Uruguay, heart taking precedence of head when it came to the England/Argentina clash. Down the years England has had many encounters with Argentina at the World Cup, when England won in 1966 they defeated Argentina en route to the final.
And who can forget the Maradona “hand of God” in 1986, the deliberate hand ball that Maradona made look like a header. Perhaps this time England can get their revenge on Maradona, now the Argentinean coach.
It is good to see the progress of South Korea, Japan and the United States, clearly their success stems from the World Cups held in their countries. Let us hope that Africa will benefit in some way from this event in a way that far exceeds their expectations.
Leagues will be created, training facilities developed and more children able to share our love of the game. In this respect I am an optimist and the success of the hosting countries in future competitions speaks well for the FIFA policy of spreading it around the world.
Given the strong participation of Australia and New Zealand it seems destined to be held in their neck of the woods before too long.
The bottom line on week number two – the excitement is mounting, negativity is now behind us, win or go home is the order of the day.