It’s kind of like that moment on Christmas morning where you look around and find out you’ve opened almost all your presents. Yes, there are still those one or two big ones you’ve been saving for last, but the feeling of the end approaching is starting to creep in.
The World Cup has reached its midpoint with half of the teams now eliminated. But with only 16 matches left to be played, the heartaches are going to come fast and furious. Here’s my take on the chances of the teams that are left in the hunt.
1. Argentina (1) – There was nothing unconvincing about Arg’s 3-2 defeat of Nigeria, even though the Super Eagles looked pretty good. But the Argentina open wheel racer is only in about 2nd gear right now and they’re just starting to push down on the pedal.
2. Brazil (4) – The hosts’ best match so far was their 4-1 defeat of Cameroon, and you want your best match going into the knockouts (sorry USA). Of course that was against a destitute Cameroon — but I think Brazil will beat Chile and that’s going to put them back in the driver’s seat in the top left quadrant.
3. France (2) – While not technically qualified after two matches, Le Bleu’s chances of going through looked pretty assured — and they showed it with a rather uninspired draw with Ecuador. But it was a B-squad and they should be able to turn it around vs Nigeria. But will they have Germany’s number in the Quarters?
4. Germany (6) – I don’t have any trouble picking Germany over Algeria, but I’m having night sweats thinking about how great a France-Germany Quarter could be. The way France is playing, I still give them the slightest of nods.
5. Holland (5) – The Dutch have the relatively easy CONCACAF quadrant with a match against Mexico and then likely Costa Rica. Can they finish off our rivals? Yeah, I think so.
6. Colombia (8) – It might be rather unpopular to put everyone’s favorite dark horses way down in sixth. I like Colombia. I LOVE James “Don’t-Call-Me-James” Rodriguez. But after a likely tough victory over Uruguay, they ain’t gonna like playing Brazil.
7. Belgium (7) – There are huge question marks over this USAvBEL game — but interestingly enough, they aren’t over the USA. I pretty much know how we are going to play. But no one is sure which Belgium team will show up. If Belgium at their best gets off the bus, the USA is in big trouble.
8. USA (9) – We did what we needed to do, now we need to keep on doing what we can. Regardless, this is house money from here on out.
9. Chile (3) – Chile is worse than USA??? No, probably not. But USA’s chances of beating Belgium are better than Chile’s over Brazil.
10. Costa Rica (10) – I’m picking CR to beat Greece, but I have them down in 10 because I still don’t believe.
11. Mexico (12) – Sorry compadres. You’ve had a great tourney, but you aren’t beating the Dutch. We’ll miss you Wet Herrera.
12. Switzerland (13) – You gotta like the creative goal scoring by Schaqiri. But does anyone really think it will be enough to get past Argentina? Although remember, Switzerland upset Spain in the first round of 2010.
13. Algeria (19) – One of the more impressive sides of the B-qualifiers was the athletic showing by the France B-Side of Algeria. But the German train will likely mow them down.
14. Uruguay (11) – How does a team with Edinson Cavani seem so destitute? You’d think they have a shot of beating Colombia – it all depends if they’re hungry enough…
15. Nigeria (21) – France fodder.
16. Greece (23) – Costa Rica is so lucky.