One word underscores this World Cup so far: WOW! Well, actually there are many words that could express the matches we have already seen: sensational, unreal, phenomenal … and I could go on and on. With all the upsets and potential Cinderella teams out there, I almost feel like I am watching an American NCAA March Madness tournament.
The starting excitement, at least for me, was the USA (“my”) team finally defeating one of its most formidable foes over the past few World Cups: Ghana. After USA got knocked out the past 2 tourneys by Ghana, it was nice to see that “that” did not happen again this time around. This match had me worried even before the kickoff, and during play Ghana had some pretty awesome opportunities to make it ugly for USA. However the USA team defense held strong, and excellent goalkeeping kept USA ahead, with the team next scheduled to meet Portugal.
I was on pins and needles, going into the USA vs Portugal match. I thought “we” might have a strong showing, but then Portugal scored in the first 5 minutes, and I was suddenly feeling a little worried. USA gained back its composure for the rest of the game, scoring 2 tremendous goals to go ahead of Portugal in score. Then during stoppage time, Ronaldo (one of Portugal’s forwards) did what he does best on one of the few USA mistakes—capitalizing on this error, he made a beautiful cross for a header goal, resulting in a draw score for this match. Of course I’ll take the draw over a loss, but a win would have been that much sweeter.
Going into the USA vs Germany match, I am feeling pretty good. If USA can once again maintain possession and get some good looks on goal, I think we can advance to the next round of 16. It will be tough, as Germany is always tough, but overall it should be a good game.
So, raise your hand if:
….you predicted Spain would have a total meltdown and get knocked out of competition early on—getting a schooling by the Dutch, and then suffering a loss to Chile, for final elimination?
….you predicted that Costa Rica would come out of the gates like gang busters, and qualify for the next round, with 2 straight wins over Uruguay and an always tough Italian team?
….you thought Germany would completely dismantle the Portuguese defense for an impressive 4-0 win?
….you predicted that Croatia would also completely dismantle the Cameroonian defense for another impressive goal scoring barrage?
For each of these games I am afraid to admit that I went with these predictions and believed Spain would have their way in their group, and Portugal and Germany would have a much closer game. I also thought that Brazil would be having an easier time in its matches. After watching many of these games, I can see why Futbol is the most popular sport in the world. It never ceases to amaze me how a single goal, or a strong offensive counter can completely change the momentum of a game and psychologically shut down opponents as evidenced in Spain’s 2 straight losses.
Well let’s sit back and see how the rest of the group matches work out, and who will advance to the next knockout stage of 16.