World Cup

May the Best Bid (not) Win

England Snubbed for 2018 WC

Two votes.

Out of a grand total of 22 votes that England could have garnered in the World Cup 2018 Host race, they received just two votes.

Shocked?

Don’t be, the decision to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar reeks of retribution and political gamesmanship.

Despite England garnering the titles of ‘lowest risk’, ‘most profitable’ and ‘strongest technically’ by reports released by FIFA, it appears that the governing body of the beautiful game has dealt a tough lesson to the motherland of football.

Rallying the heavy artillery, England 2018 sent David Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron, HRH Prince William into the snake pit in Zurich to sway the FIFA Executive to vote on the merits of the bidding countries and not punish the Brits for their outspoken media.

Sure, Russia was a heavy favourite leading up to the vote; they were a new frontier to discover, somewhere for the Football world to spread towards and continue to build Sepp Blatter’s legacy of ‘spreading the game’ throughout the corners of the planet.

However, let’s not kid ourselves that in order to ‘spread the game,’ FIFA has awarded the World Cup to a country that did not have the best bid.

Look no further than the results of the 2022 race to see the intent behind FIFA’s two decision; denying an extremely strong USA bid for that of Qatar; the country deemed ‘highest risk’ by FIFA regulators and a country that would see it’s population grow by 25% with the influx of over 400,000 fans during the tournament.

Qatar bought the support of high profile athletes like Zinedine Zidane

When a country like Qatar has to pay stars and celebrities to endorse their campaign, Zinedine Zidane is being paid $15million for the successful bid, you have to question the reason’s behind the decision. Sending the World Cup to the USA in 2022 would help grow the North American game and would allow more people access to the games.

Meanwhile pundits are already discussing the possibility of the World Cup in Qatar being the least attended in the tournaments illustrious history, but don’t worry, as the government has more than enough Oil money to cover the costs and ensure that FIFA goes home with their pockets lined in fresh bills.

Then there was the buzz word of the two races: Corruption.

British media outlets News of the World and the BBC, each fought the crusade against the corruption that covers the global game; Payoffs, tickets being sold on the black market, voters taking bribes etc.

Not an issue?

Just moments before voting, Sepp Blatter warned those present of the ‘evil of the media’ and ‘recent events in the media.’ While, Cyprus voting member Marois Lefkaritis, said ““If the [England bid team] think they did not [suffer because of the media], then they are stupid and naive.”

Allegations that there was collusion between the 2018 Spain/Portugal bid and the 2022 Qatar bid to garner support for each in the separate votes will not help, with Qatar winning and the Iberian bid being a finalist in the 2018 race.

With so much controversy revolving around the final decisions and such strong bids obviously snubbed, it asks the question: Why are the best candidates being ignored?

And while there are many other questions to ask, some are already taking action.

England 2018 bid Chief Executive Andy Anson has called for reform, asking for more transparency in the decisions, stating that accusations of corruption have tainted the process.

“I would say right now don’t bother (bidding) unless you know the process is going to change,” said Anson.

“When there are only 22 guys that gives them too much influence.”

While England’s Football Association chairman Roger Burden resigned, stating that he could not work with FIFA as long as he did not trust them.

“I recognize that an important part of the role is liaison with Fifa, our global governing body,” he said.

“I am not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust and I have withdrawn my candidacy.”

Finally, Arsene Wenger was steadfast in his call for FIFA reform, “The way to decide looked to me, in fairness, a little bit from the Middle Ages. It doesn’t look right in

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger has joined the cry for FIFA reform

modern life that people have to go over there and lobby and say, ‘please believe in us’. Frankly, it looks a little bit that you have to flatter them to get the World Cup.

“I don’t think that is right. You would like to have much more technical than human criteria. It is difficult to explain to people that the technical bid of England was perfect but you get only two votes. That is not rational,” finished the Arsenal manager.

While FIFA will want to move forward and past their decision, it appears there will be a definite push for reform and transparency in the future.

——-

Henry Whitfield is an avid Mooseheads fan and you can find his thoughts on sports and more on his blog, or follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield. You can also listen to him on air as a regular contributor to the Bill McLean Sports show on 88.1 CKDU.

 

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Prediction: World Cup Final

After a month of matches, hundreds of goals and countless memories that will live on for a lifetime, we have finally reached the end of our World Cup journey: The World Cup Final is here.

We’ve seen the old Italians get stuck in the group stage, a surprise run by Uruguay, England crash out against a young, upstart German side, Maradona’s dream fall apart and most impressively, we got to see a talented French team implode and surrender during a World Cup.

Now we are left with two nations, an experienced Spain that were pre-tournament favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy and a resilient Dutch side that has been pushed forward by the outstanding play of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.

Here’s the prediction for today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

Yesterday, I predicted a 4-2 win for Germany over Uruguay and they very nearly gave me that scoreline, but a resilient Uruguayan side fought hard and kept the score close until the very last kick of the match.

So without further adieu, here is my breakdown of today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

If you’ve checked out week’s edition of Haligonia Sports, you saw me break down the Dutch and Spanish sides with Bill McLean and you heard the reasoning behind my predictions.

If you haven’t, well you should go check it out right away for more detail on my thoughts of today’s match, but for now I think this game comes down to two players: David Villa and Wesley Sneijder. The match will come down to whoever has the better game and my money is on the Dutch midfielder to play phenomenal and single-handedly give his country their first World Cup trophy.

Look for the Dutch keeper to keep his side in it and make some fantastic saves, while Arjen Robben will draw a red card from at least one Spanish player. The Dutch will control for much of the second half and pull away, not allowing Spain to carry out their usual plan of attack.

That’s it for today, but check back after the match as I will be doing a minute by minute re-cap and breakdown of today’s match.

World Cup Third-Place Preview & Predo

Let’s pause the heat wave for a second and forget LeBronmania for just a second and turn our focus back to the World Cup.

The final two matches are finally upon us and I for one can’t be happier, a final matchup between old-world rivals Spain and Netherlands sets up a fantastic stage for the beautiful game to display its talent.

Just as interesting is the third place match between a young, surprising German team and an equally surprising Uruguay side that has seen it rise once again to the top tier of international football, led by the talismanic Diego Forlan and controversial Luis Suarez.

To get here we saw Spain dispatch Germany in a closely fought game that finished one-nil and saw Spain dominate an inexperienced Germany side with their passing and patience. On the other side of the draw, the Netherlands first beat arch-rivals Brazil and then took their time beating Uruguay 3-2 in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament thus far.

Just as amazingly as Uruguay being in the final four, was the fact I got a pick right and went 50% in the final four for my predictions, which as always you can find right here.

So with those two matches out of the way and just two World Cup matches remaining, it’s time for my last two predictions of the tournament before some match pre-views and then two surprise posts that are being worked on for all the readers out there.

Third place match – Uruguay 24 Germany

So now that you’ve got the prediction, here’s some more in-depth information on why I think that I may actually be right this time:

Uruguay 2 – 4 Germany

I’m almost, but only almost, looking forward to this match more than the finals for a number of exciting reasons.

First being that we might finally see the Uruguayans playing an attacking, open game now that the pressure is off and combine that with the style that Germany played prior to their semi-final loss and well, you’ve got yourself and stupidly exciting third place match.

Luis Suarez is back from his one-game suspension after his dubious handball against Ghana, whilst Diego Forlan is rumoured to be playing for a new contract and maybe a transfer to a bigger club.

On the other side of the pitch we have a young German side who were taught a tough lesson by an experienced Spanish side and will be looking to redeem themselves, although, they will be extremely happy to of already made it this far in the tournament.

While the Germans have played a fast-paced, free-flowing style for much of this tournament, their hopes of another World Cup win came crashing down when the Spanish Armada came to town and showed their experience and class, thoroughly outplaying a tired looking Germany.

I think that the German’s have nothing left to prove and now a weight is off their shoulders, the young team will play with confidence and in a relaxed manner. A scary thought for a Uruguay fan, but I don’t think they have the talent to compete with German, but the match will be an exciting shoot-out with a lot of exciting action.

Key Germany Player – Thomas Muller

Key Uruguay Player – Luis Suarez

Check back Saturday for the World Cup Final preview, complete with my prediction and in-depth analysis of Spain and the Netherlands.

As always you can follow me on twitter @HenryWhitfield during the match for live tweets and insight, plus tune in Tuesday to CKDU 88.1 FM @ 11am for Sports talk and World Cup wrap-up with Bill McLean.

World Cup: Semi Predo’s

Let’s all collect our breath shall we?

Now then, it’s time for some Semi-final predictions. Now that Germany has thrashed another opponent, and for the third time this World Cup scored four goals in a game, they will face pre-tournament favourites Spain, who have struggled thus far to put in an impressive performance in any of their games.

The other matchup features Two time World Champions Uruguay, who  are now the only South American team left in the tournament after Brazil and Argentina crashed out, against the inventors of Total Football, the Dutch who showed they can go down and come back with fighting spirit as they knocked off the Samba Boys.

Last round my predictions were almost spot on, picking three out of four winning teams correctly. Uruguay, Spain and Germany all went through, while the Netherlands upset my Brazil to book their place in the final four. Going 75% was a big improvement, but let’s see if I can keep it going this round.

If you were listening to CKDU Sports today, you heard my predictions on air with Bill Mclean, but for the rest of the world, here we go with my predictions for the semi-finals:

Uruguay 0 – 2 Netherlands

This is by far the tougher of the two matches to pick a winner and it features a defensively responsible team in Uruguay, against a patient Netherlands team who is more than willing to sit back and wait to pick apart their opponent bit by bit.

The Dutch fell behind early to Brazil, but instead of breaking apart like they have in the past, they used a game-turning save by their keeper to gain momentum and beat the five-time world champions. Their execution and pin-point passing was spot on and they looked incredibly strong in their play.

Uruguay needed penalties to barely squeeze by an inspired Ghana side, which more than deserved to win the match. A handball by Luis Suarez in the final moments of extra time was the only reason they booked themselves into the final four, and without their leading goal scorer they will have to rely even more on Diego Forlan.

The strength in midfield for the Dutch will be the key to this match and both Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder will be relied on heavily to both control the pace of the match and create chances on the attack.

Although Uruguay is extremely solid in the back, their team is susceptible to the speed of the Dutch attack and I am looking for the passing game of their opponents to really expose the back four.

In the end, the quality of the Dutch team will shine through and after a first-half goal gives them the lead, they’ll score a late second half goal to secure their spot in the finals and one win away from their first World Cup.

Key Netherlands Player – Arjen Robben

Key Uruguay Player – Diego Forlan

Spain 1 – 4 Germany

I know what you’re all thinking, four goals against Spain by Germany? You must be crazy!

But let’s look at the teams not just on paper, but in form and the recent performances both teams have put together.

Germany destroyed Australia in their first match, but got set back by Serbia in a 1-nil loss, however, since that game the young Germans have not looked back and each game has seen them get stronger and stronger. The combination of Miroslav Klose’s experience and the influx of speed and creativity by Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil, has seen the easy destruction of both England and Argentina.

Spain has yet to impress me in this World Cup, a pre-tournament favourite to lift the Jules Rime Trophy, but the team has failed to show any interest in winning while in South Africa. However, this team has made it into the semi-final’s without showing anything exciting, an optimist would say that it’s only a matter of time for Spain to find their game and play the way they can, but a realist must look at the team and say, that maybe, just maybe, this team doesn’t believe in itself anymore.

The play of Fernando Torres has been dismal to say the least, and the manager’s insistence on sticking with the out-of-form striker is as baffling as the loss of his scoring touch.

The only reason Spain is in the finals is the fantastic play of David Villa and one crucial save by Iker Casillas, who made the save of the tournament when he stopped the Oscar Cordozo penalty shot in their last match.

The Germans are inspired, full of belief and already have one foot in the door and now find themselves against a lacklustre Spanish side that played like they were already going home against Paraguay.

This Germany side has left pundits wondering if they’re lucky or just that good, but yes, they are just that good. Eight goals in two games against England and Argentina shows how lethal they are in front of goal, their ability to counter in a moment and the passing of their midfield shuts out their opponents from the match.

Keep in mind that Klose is just one goal behind All-Time World Cup goal scorer Ronaldo and leads all-time goals from headers, and you’ve got one inspired player that is SURELY going to hit the back of the net once today.

Easy win for the Germans today and if we’re lucky, that sets up an exciting Netherlands – Germany finals.

Man of the Match: Miroslav Klose

World Cup: Quarterfinals Day 2

With the first day of the Quarterfinals wrapped up yesterday, we have the total football Netherlands through and the resurgent Uruguay through to the final four.

Today features the young, impressive Germany against a Diego Maradona led Argentina, while another South American team, Paraguay, take on an underperforming Spain.

Once again, you can go check out my predictions for the quarterfinals but for now here’s a reminder on what I predicted for today:

Argentina 1 – 2 Germany

Paraguay 0 – 2 Spain

I managed to go 50% with yesterday’s results, let’s see if my predictions hold on for today. Here we go:

Argentina 0 – 4 Germany

After thrashing England 4 – 1 in their encounter, I felt that there was no way that Argentina could keep up with such an impressive German team. I was right. For the entire ninety minutes it was all Germany, the South American’s seemed out of their depth and Maradona just didn’t have the tactical answers to compete with Joachim Loew.


It took just three minutes for the Germans to strike first blood, with Bastian Schweinsteiger curling in a free-kick that Thomas Mueller headed home, leaving Sergio Romero wondering why he’d come out instead of staying on his line.

With a lead in hand, the young Germans went to work and continually opened up space going forward, with Mesut Ozil taking full advantage of the space and setting up a number of clear cut chances. However, with all their pressure Germany could only put one past the Argentineans in the first half.

Argentina started promising in the second half and looked favourites to score the next goal, but Germany slowly took back control of the game and all hope was lost for Maradona when Thomas Mueller, while on the ground, sent in Lukas Podolski who then passed a ball in front for Miroslav Klose to tap home and give the Germans a two-goal lead. The goal was another example of the German’s pin-point passing and their raw football ability.

The German’s looked relentless and just six minutes later Bastian Schweinsteiger danced through half the Argentinean defence before setting up Arne Friedrich in front for his first ever goal at the international level.

Germany was rampant and the rout was on.

Javier Mascherano, who had been tasked to hold off the entire German Midfield, looked lost for much of the game and picked up a yellow card in the 80th minute, but it made no difference as his team looked well and truly trounced.

With just one minute remaining, Germany added insult to injury as young star Mesut Ozil floated in a perfect cross that Miroslav Klose volleyed home to put him second all time with 14 goals in the World Cup. He is now only one goal behind Ronaldo’s record of 15 at the World Cup.

A final score of 4-nil was nice to Argentina, as a master performance by Germany could have easily put ten goals past a lacklustre and uninspired South American side.

Man Of The Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Spain 1 – 0 Paraguay

What. A. Boring. Match.

Other than a few moments of madness, this match was a complete bore from start to end. A lacklustre Spanish side failed to capitalize on chances, and an even worse looking Paraguay rarely looked interested in making it into the final four.

Another cap for Fernando Torres and another uninspired performance from the soon-to-be ex-Liverpool striker, it is a real wonder why he keeps getting awarded starts. Maybe the manger likes his new haircut?

The game lacked any energy for much of the first half, and it was a sad display after three other wonderful Quarterfinal matches. Both teams lacked an attacking flair and neither looked interested in moving into the second round to face an impressive German side.

The match finally found some energy halfway through the second, when controversy poked it’s ugly head.

With Spain bringing on Cesc Fabregas to inspire the troops and try and pull out a win, it was Paraguay who finally had the first clear chance to win.

Oscar Cordozo went down in the box after a Gerard Pique challenge and it was a penalty for the South Americans. Cordozo took the shot himself but Iker Casillas‘ got down in time for the save and maintain the deadlock.

The excitement wasn’t finished there, as just two minutes later as David Villa breaks into the Paraguay box going full tilt and goes down softly under a challenge from Antolin Alcaraz.

ANOTHER PENALTY!

This time it`s Xabi Alonso who steps up, surely a goal, and sure enough he puts the ball away in the corner and it is… wait… no… the referee has called the goal back for encroachment by the Spanish players in the box.

Alonso clearly shaken now, steps up to re-take the biggest penalty shot of his life, shoots…SAVED!


Justo Villar guesses correctly and dives to make an incredible save; it may well have been the biggest save in his career. Fabregas is taken down in the box during the chaos that ensured after the shot, but the referee isn’t interested in another Penalty it seems.

Giving the fans some time to catch their collective breathe, the game once again slows down and loses all sense of life, until David Villa decides it’s time for Spain to go through to the Semi-finals.

Andres Iniesta moves in past a couple of Paraguayan players, sends in Pedro who crashes a shot off the woodworks but it’s Villa who is there for the rebound and latches onto the ball, a shot that careens off of one post, along the line and off of the other post before crossing the line. An unbelievable shot, you really have to step back and admire that effort.

With a one goal lead and a place in the next round secure, Spain goes back to sleep and the game is done with.

Man of The Match: Anyone that had the courage to watch the full ninety minutes…

World Cup: Quarterfinals Day 1

Only eight teams are left in the World Cup and today we have our last remaining African nation in play, with Ghana facing a resurgent Uruguay, while the late match offers us a classic matchup between the five time world Champions Brazil and the nation that brought us total football the Netherlands.

My predos came out before the matches and you can go find them here for the whole Quarterfinals, but as a quick reminder here’s today’s predictions:

Uruguay 2 – 1 Ghana

Brazil 3 – 2 Netherlands

With those predictions sure to be utterly wrong, here’s today’s recap and roundup of the matches:

Uruguay 1 [4] – 1 [2] Ghana

Forty years have passed since Uruguay have made it into the last four of the World Cup and on the other side of the bill, Ghana is hoping to remain Africa’s last hope to crown a champion at this year’s tournament.

The game started tentatively, with both teams cautiously attacking and probing for space, trying to find the go ahead goal. With so much pressure on the teams to get a result, the first thirty minutes offered few clear cut chances but Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Kingson was called upon for a  couple of keys saves from Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez.

It was once again Asamoah Gyan who led the African attack and had a number of clear chances as the first half came to a close, however, it was Sulley Muntari who would open the scoring with a forty yard strike in first half injury time. The forward was allowed too much space and seemed to move in slow motion as he turned and struck a long-range speculative effort, only to be rewarded with a goal that curled just outside of the reach of keeper Fernando Muslera.

Although it was Ghana with the edge going into halftime, it was the South Americans that came out hard and full of life in the second half. They started brightly and were rewarded just ten minutes after the break when Diego Forlan curled in a wide free kick that deceived Kingson with its movement and tied the match at one goal apiece.

The game once again fell back to the two teams playing for extra time, but Ghana looked brightest forcing the opposition keeper into a number of important saves. The game finished 1-1 after ninety minutes and the two teams were forced into extra-time.

As the game looked to head into penalty kicks after a pair of scoreless halves of extra-time, it was controversy that took over the game.

In the dying seconds of the game Dominic Adiyiah has a shot cleared off the line by Suarez, and then second later it is Suarez again saving the day stopping a header from Adiyiah, however, this time he uses his hand and punches the ball clear.

A certain goal is stopped; Luis Suarez sees red and Asamoah Gyan steps up to take the penalty, where a goal will put his side just one match away from the World Cup finals.

He steps up. And. MISSES. With the ball skimming the woodworks and going over the net, absolutely heartbreaker and the match heads to penalty kicks.

Forlan scores first, then Gyan steps up moments after missing his chance to win the game and scores top corner. Brave move and it pays off.

Then Victorino scores, but Appiah answers back for Ghana and its tied two a piece after two shots. Scotti then scores for Uruguay and Mensah tries to score without a run up but Fernando Muslera guesses right and makes a save. 3 – 2 for Uruguay after three shots.

Maxi Periera up next and can put his country in the driving seat, but gaffes the shot and puts it high and wide, while all of Africa goes wild. Adiyiah steps up to score but is saved by Muslera.

With a goal putting them through, Abreu steps up, the weight of all of Uruguay on his shoulders, and dinks the ball right down the middle and puts his country through to the final four.

Man Of The Match: Fernando Muslera

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Netherlands 2 – 1 Brazil

Netherlands 2 – 1 Brazil

Whenever these two teams meet up, dreams are crushed and memories are imprinted upon supporter’s minds forever.

Five time world champions Brazil had been pegged as favourites to win the tournament, whilst many were waiting for the inevitable collapse that has plagued Dutch teams in the final stages of international tournaments for decades.

Le Oranje came out impressively and had a number of clear chances in the first few minutes, but the Brazilians hit back quickly on the counter-attack. In the 8th minute the South Americans sent Dani Alves in and he slipped a ball across for Robinho who tapped home but a late flag from the linesman put Alves offside and the Brazilians were unlucky to not be ahead.

Robinho didn’t have to wait long for his goal, as just two minutes later Felipe Melo sent him in alone and the on-loan Man City striker slotted a strike past Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg to give his team a 1-nil lead early in the game.

With a lead in hand, Brazil is eager to sit back and hassle their opponents, fouling Arjen Robben at will and slowing the pace of the game down. Brazil pushes back and has a couple of chances with Juan blazing over from a few yards out and a brilliant curled shot by Kaka is turned away by Stekelenburg.

Michel Bastos, who had already fouled Robben a number of times, is shown a yellow card in the37th minute and has to make sure he doesn’t fall into Robben’s crafty movements, and although Brazil held a lead going into halftime their players looked increasingly frustrated at the fouls being called by the referees.

Going into the second half, it was up to the Dutch to come out and take control of the match as the new look Brazil who plays defence first were more than happy to sit back and play the game out to a 1-nil win.

Moments after receiving a yellow card, Felipe Melo turns villain as he goes up to head away a Wesley Sneijder cross and heads it into his own net. Own goal for Melo and it’s a 1-1 game in the 53rd minute.

The goal woke up both sides and suddenly a match was being played, Kaka has a chance go narrowly wide and Dani Alves has another shots saved. With Brazil looking frustrated and Netherlands growing in confidence, Arjen Robben drills in a corner kick that takes a deflection off of Dirk Kuyt and onto the head of Sneijder who heads home goal and puts his team into the driver’s seat with only 20 minutes remaining.

Just five minutes after the goal, Brazil finally implodes as own-goal scorer Felipe Melo see’s red for a vicious stamp on the leg of Arjen Robben. What a terrible day for the Brazilian, who set up the first goal, hit in an own goal and received a yellow and a straight red card.

Down a man Dunga’s side just seemed unable to compete and the Dutch seemed to smell blood, attacking over and over again, and throwing caution to the wind looking for more goals. Kuyt was unlucky not to add a third, but in all fairness, the final moments saw Netherlands walk out easy winners and into the next round.

Man Of The Match: Wesley Sneijder

Quarter Final Predos

This year’s Round of Sixteen gave us some mouth-watering matchups with rivals Germany destroying England 4-1, neighbours Spain crushing Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugual with a 1 – nil win, while the Brazil gave a lesson in football to Chile in a 3 – 0 thrashing.

I went a dismal 3/8 in the last round with my predictions, only correctly sending through Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina.

If you need a reminder you can find my predictions for this round right here, but here we go with my Quarterfinal Predictions:

Netherlands 1 – 3 Brazil

With Arjen Robben back in the line-up, the Dutch had much more movement against Slovakia and will look to exploit the attacking nature of the Brazilian players to try and pounce on the counter attack.

Look for Wesley Sneijder to make runs to open up the back for of Brazil, while his forwards create problems in the box. However, their attacking prowess will not be enough to get past an inspired defence-first Brazilian side.

Look for Kaka and company to once again dominate the game, allowing another late goal after controlling the match for much of the full ninety minutes.

Key Player For NetherlandsArjen Robben

Key Player For BrazilKaka


Uruguay 3 – 2 Ghana

This match is the one that I personally look forward to the most in this year’s Quarterfinals.

It offers us an African nation with the possibility of making it into the Semi-Finals, but also a chance for Uruguay to announce their return to the top of the football world.

Ghana will off early attacking pressure, but once again the counter-attack will be key to this match with Uruguay pegging them back time, and time again. Asamoah Gyan will attempt to get the win for his team and will be the catalyst for the Ghanaian attack but it just won’t be enough.

Look to Diego Forlan to hit the back of the net twice and lead his team to an inspired 3 – 2 victory, booking the Uruguayan’s place in the Semi-Finals.

Key Player for Uruguay Diego Forlan

Key Player for GhanaAsamoah Gyan

Argentina 1 – 2 Germany

What a matchup this is!

It’s tough to choose a winner between this two teams, with both being heavy favourites before the tournament to life the Jules Rimet trophy, it is unfortunate that this will not be the final matchup.

Both team’s feature very young goalkeepers, with a combined age under 45 and just 19 caps between the two, but both teams have full confidence of making it through to the final four. Germany has relied on the inspiration of youngster Mesut Ozil, while Diego Maradona’s side will focus their movements forward through Lionel Messi.

The pace and creativity in the German side will win out, as they will sit back and wait to hit back on the counter attack, causing havoc on the Argentina back four.

I’m predicting a dominant performance from Germany, on their way to a 2 – 1 victory.

Key Player for GermanyMesut Ozil

Key Player for ArgentinaCarlos Tevez

Paraguay 0 – 2 Spain

With Paraguay lucky to squeeze by a resilient Japan side in their last match, I make Spain heavy favourites to pick apart their South American opponents.

I had thought that Portugal would be able to exploit the Spanish side going forward but their players showed control, and efficiently pulled apart their opponents game plan.

I look for David Villa to be key in this matchup and for the Spanish defence to provide a masterclass performance, giving Spain a clean sheet and a place in the Semi`s.

Key Player for SpainDavid Villa

Key Player for ParaguayRoque Santa Cruz

Well, there you have it, going through to the finals will be: Brazil, Uruguay, Germany and Spain.

Throw me your comments, concerns or your own predictions and let me know how wrong you think I am!

We`ll be back with match-day recaps this week and will keep you updated with all the football news!