Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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Can Mexico Advance?

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.


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How I Like to Watch Games and Today’s Predictions

Good morning, everyone. Hope you’ve all had a great week. Last night’s Greece-Japan game didn’t do much for me, but at least we were treated to two other great games yesterday. But the Greek game got me thinking. Four years ago, I was in Greece for much of the World Cup. I remember expecting people to be really into it being a European country and all, but I was a little disappointed. I guess we weren’t in big cities for most of it, but there wasn’t much excitement where I was, even for Greece games. The one night we were in Athens during the World Cup, we were at a restaurant/bar during the France-Uruguay game. For some reason, there were a ton of Uruguayans at the restaurant that night, and they gave me a hard time about the Franck Ribery France jersey I was wearing. But it was fun being a part of a large crowd of passionate fans enjoying soccer.

Since then, I haven’t had that experience very often for soccer matches. For Arsenal games, I usually watch alone or with a friend a two, but never with more than three or four others. I’m usually too nervous to want to watch with people who don’t care as much. I’m going to have to really respect your fandom if I’m going to choose to watch a game with you. For USA games, it hasn’t been much different. There just aren’t that many people that care enough for my liking when I’m nervously watching a game.

But maybe the lasting effect of this World Cup will be more people in the US who genuinely care about soccer. I don’t just mean people who are happy to show how American they are every four years. I mean people who enjoy getting into the games. I’m hopeful that day is coming so that I can stop watching alone.

Now, here are my picks for today’s games.

Italy 2 Costa Rica 0

The English will be delighted with this result, as the Costa Ricans will find the Italians much tougher than Uruguay was last week. The success that Joel Campbell found dropping deep won’t be there this time going against Danielle De Rossi, whose impact in this game will be huge in front of the Italian defense. Mario Balotelli will score one on the break in the first half, and Ciro Immobile will add the second off the bench. The final score won’t be entirely indicative of how dominant Italy are.

Switzerland 1 France 0

I’ll stick with the pick I made in my original group stage predictions. This will be the surprise of the day. France will be the more dangerous side throughout, but chances will fall to the wrong men. Diego Benaglio will have a good day in goal as well, and the French won’t be able to crack the Swiss defense. Switzerland will have few chances, halted in midfield by Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba. However, against the run of play, Xherdan Shaqiri will score a candidate for goal of the tournament, giving his Switzerland the top spot in Group E. France certainly has more talent, but I’ll take the Swiss today.

Honduras 1 Ecuador 1

The other Group E game won’t carry the same amount of sparkle as Switzerland-France, but it will be a game to watch in its own right. I think this game could get testy, with the opposing mangers knowing each other’s sides so well and both teams frustrated by their losses last time out. Yellow cards will be flying. Jerry Bengtson will score first for Honduras on a set-piece. But Ecuador will earn a point late on through Antonio Valencia, whose quality should shine through today. Despite the lack of star power, this game will still carry some intrigue.

How do you like to watch games? Do you prefer watching alone or with other people? Share your thoughts below. And check back for more content later on today. Thanks for reading.