The quarterfinals start today. I was 8 for 8 with my picks in the Round of 16. But that's an easier round to pick. 7 of the 8 group winners won their game (the US being the only one who didn't). The story in the quarterfinals is South America. 4 of the 8 teams are South American, the most they've ever sent this far into the competition. There are 3 European teams, but that's out of 13 total entrants. Africa fills out the field with 1 representative. No Asian or North American teams remain.
Friday 10:00 AM - ESPN
Netherlands vs. Brazil
We all know how powerful Brazil is. But don't overlook the Netherlands. Guys like Kuyt, van Persie, Robben and Sneijder all have the skill sets to score. The Dutch play a fluid, adaptive style up front that should give the Brazilian defense fits. The Brazilians have Fabiano, Kaka, and the best goalie in the world Julio Cesar. But I'm leaning Dutch in this one. Netherlands 3, Brazil 2.
Friday 2:30 PM - ESPN
Uruguay vs. Ghana
Two nice stories here. The Uruguayans haven't made the semifinals since 1970. The Ghanaians have NEVER made the semifinals. Uruguay's been the most solid team in the tournament. They have a tight defense, careful midfield, and potent strikers. Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan will undoubtedly be the best strikers Ghana has faced (Klose was suspended for Germany when they played Ghana). Ghana's biggest weakness is their back 4, and these two guys will exploit them. Uruguay 2, Ghana 0.
Saturday 10:00 AM - ABC
Germany vs. Argentina
A rematch from the '06 World Cup which saw the Germans advance on penalty kicks. But Argentina looks slightly better than they did 4 years ago, and Germany looks a bit inconsistent. Sure they abused England, but the English midfield was trash. Argentina will exploit Germany's youth, and win 2-1.
Saturday 2:30 PM - ABC
Paraguay vs. Spain
The Paraguayans are just happy to get this far, and they should be. This is their first trip to the World Cup quarterfinals. They should enjoy it while it lasts because Spain will toss them aside with ease. Spain 3, Paraguay 1.