I didn’t get a chance to write anything about the Colombia-Uruguay game yesterday, but there’s not much to say at this point other than that James Rodriguez looks a serious star. If teams aren’t lining up to bid 6o million euros for him after the World Cup, I’ll be quite surprised. I thought his goal last game was nice, but his first one today was truly remarkable. The first touch was sublime, and then the finish was even better. Brazil will be in for a real struggle against him in the quarterfinal. Today’s games aren’t as glamorous as yesterday’s, but we should still be in for a fun day of soccer.
My picks yesterday were nearly spot-on, so I’ll hope these ones continue a good run for me.
Netherlands 3 Mexico 1
Mexico has been particularly impressive defensively so far, but they have not faced any players like Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. That duo has been sensational playing together up top, and I suspect today will be no different. Robben will have a field day against Rafael Marquez, as the old man will struggle to keep up with the pacey winger. Miguel Herrera might give us a few more spectacular GIFs on the Mexican sideline, but his magic touch won’t be there against the Dutch. Robin van Persie will get the reigning finalists on the board first with a left-footed volley. Before halftime, he will add another on a counter-attack led by Arjen Robben. A Herrera halftime talk will see the Mexicans come out with more spirit in the second half, and Hector Herrera will finally get a goal in Brazil. The impressive midfielder will deserve it too, having come close numerous times this tournament. However, as the Mexicans push forward to tie the game, another Dutch counter will see Robben put away the game, dancing around Guillermo Ochoa for another beautiful goal. The Mexicans will bow out, but they can hold their heads high.
Costa Rica 1 Greece 0
After a wildly successful group stage, the Ticos face a dream round of 16 matchup with the offensively challenged Greeks. Despite scoring two goals against Ivory Coast, Greece shouldn’t scare Costa Rica, and the Greeks might end up playing for penalty kicks if the match stays tied into the second half. On the break, Joel Campbell should find some space in front of Greece’s back four to release his wingers behind the vacated fullback spots – Greece attacks mainly through their left and right backs. Costa Rica’s lone goal will come early in the second half from the head of Bryan Ruiz, who will be excellent again today. Greece has been poor on set pieces under Fernando Santos and that could come back to haunt them. Going forward, Greece will create a couple chances in the early going, but their strikers won’t be up to the task. Keylor Santos will make a key save late on, and the Costa Rica defense will hold strong in the air in the final minutes. The Ticos will advance.
I’m currently working on a non-sports related post that I should have for you in the next day or two. Other than that, check back for post-match coverage later this afternoon. It should be a fun day. Thanks for reading.