The 2014 World Cup Is Flat: Part II

What follows is a continuation of an ongoing email exchange between me and my buddy Chip, two guys who shouldn’t be wagering any money on soccer matches, as we make predictions for the upcoming knockout rounds of the 2014 World Cup starting with the round of 16 Saturday.

from JL

After a long layoff it’s time to get back to our 2014 World Cup predictions. This time we focus on the start of single elimination play, a format most Americans are familiar with unlike the circutitous nature of the round robin group stage. I don’t know about you but I have never taken as much pride in cheering for a defeat like I did when the U.S. lost to Germany 1-0 on Thursday. As for Christiano Ronaldo, always loved the guy. In fact he may be my favorite athlete in the entire world!

On to the Sweet 16 where we will make our picks in order starting with Saturday’s games Brazil v Chile and Columbia v Uruguay. It doesn’t take a hard core soccer fan to tell that Brazil is a really talented side (Ian Darke speak) but I was underwhelmed by what I saw from the favorites in the group stage, except for Neymar, that guy is good and well deserving of the #10.

Chile’s fans are amongst the most passionate at the World Cup as evidenced by the stampede through the media center in Rio. (How does that happen by the way? After that crowd storming episode the Brazilian gov’t should focus even less of their attention/money on the poverty/crime ridden favelas to ensure that all those wealthy folk fortunate enough to afford a ticket to a soccer match can do so without fear of being run over by a mob from Santiago. 

Brazil can turn it on and off when necessary and I have a feeling green means go for the home team on Sat. Pick: Brazil over Chile.

As for Columbia v Uruguay, without Hannibal Lector in the fold for Uruguay this is Columbia’s game to lose. What bothers me the most about Luis Suarez is that he must believe biting gives him a competitive advantage which is totally counter intuitive. If anything, it has worked against him in both the short and long term. He is one of the most disliked players in the world. And for good reason. Maybe he needs to eat more for breakfast.

from Chip

I watched more soccer in the past 10 days than I have in 33 years combined.  Here are a few of my takeaways: 1. I love God and country as much as anyone, but when they started “I believe we will win…” at the bar today, I just couldn’t get sucked in, nor did I join in the “U-S-A” chant after we LOST.  I will continue to watch and pull for the US, but I have still not caught the fever; 2. Soccer announcers are fantastic. They have total command of the game and of the language. It is like listening/watching the great Doc Emerick; and 3. I don’t think it should, but the bandwagon aspect of #USMT is  starting to get under my skin.  Does that make me a bad American?

Brazil v. Chile is actually a game I would make time to watch.  From the little I know, Chile looks strong, but how much is that inflated by a victory over what appears to be (or so everyone analyst told me) is an over-the-hill Spanish team? I think Brazil can and will turn it on and wins 3-2.

Hey Luis Suarez, LeBron James called, he said thanks for making me a lot easier to like.  It really isn’t a fair comparison, but is there any athlete easier to hate than this guy?  Even before his most unthinkable act, he was a known bitter and known racist (not the first or last unfortunately), but who the hell would want to play next to this guy?  For no other reason than I couldn’t root for anyone who likes Suarez, give me Columbia.

from JL

Being a bandwagon fan is part of the fabric of what it means to be an American in the 21st century along with eating too much fast food and not voting. I have no qualms whatsoever about jumping on the USMNT bandwagon and to me, it’s very simple, when’s the last time we as a country were able to stand arm and arm and root for a genuine underdog? And before you say Olympic hockey mind you that with climate change there are like 10 countries in the entire world that still have ice. Soccer is the global game for a reason and for so long American soccer has been shit. But now, we’re kinda good. And the way we play is appealing too. Hard working, tough and great teamwork. Exactly what we will teach our kids when they start playing peewee football…I mean youth soccer.

Furthermore, watching the World Cup, especially the U.S. games, at a bar is a really fun experience. I can do without the chanting as well but love, repeat love, randomly high fiving complete strangers in old Landon Donovan jerseys.

As for Sunday’s games, Netherlands v Mexico is a must watch for me even though I’ll be stuck in the car en route to a family vacation. Trying to convince the wife to take the wheel for a few hours so I can hop in the back to watch the game on the iPad is a tough sell for sure. Alas, as experienced and well polished as the Dutch are, Mexico is riding a wave of momentum right now and I like them in a minor upset, especially if it’s raining, which, since it’s Brazil, will probably happen.

Costa Rica’s Cinderella story rolls on against Greece.

from Chip

I can appreciate some bandwagon action, what I don’t need is everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings turning into Pele and telling me exactly how the US can dissect the Germans.  Also, I am not sure we are kinda good.  I think we are kinda lucky.

My opinion is probably tainted by watching the Netherlands put up more than a touchdown, but I will take them against Mexico.

I also will ride the Costa Rica bandwagon over Greece.