Friday, June 11, 2010

The End: Final Predictions!

I started this blog back on July 20, 2009, vowing to write at least one item per day on the 2010 World Cup until kickoff, on June 11, 2010.

Finally, we are here.

This may not have been the first daily "countdown" blog, but it was among the earliest.

At the start, it was difficult to get much World Cup-focused information because the club scene dominates the media in most countries. Even in South Africa, host to the 2010 World Cup, coverage of the event was a bit thin, early.

I owe a debt to the Johannesburg Times, which early on struck me as the most complete and balanced daily news source in the country; rarely did I go two days without poking around their homepage, and I linked to them hundreds of times. Well done, Joburg Times.

I also owe my daughter, Drew, credit for coming up with the idea -- as well as the colorful, five-digit countdown logo at the top of the page.

It was difficult, early on, to find Cup-oriented items during lulls in qualifying, and I did more than a few entries about the nature of South Africa. The infrastructure, the society, etc. ... topics I didn't think I would spent much time on. It clearly is a very complex, very interesting and perhaps a bit frightening society. It could have great things ahead of it. Or not. Perhaps this World Cup will be a harbinger. For good or ill.

As the countdown ticker has moved toward 0:00 ... coverage of the event has rocketed around the world. For the past month, this blog has been just one of many, many voices.

But we got through to the end. No major injuries or illness to keep us from keepin' on. Thankfully. And I posted items to this blog from Paris, Abu Dhabi, Long Beach and four cities in Italy. Today's comes from the little town of Vietri, on the Amalfi Coast.

This is item No. 341 in the 325 days of this blog's existence. It also will be the last, unless I have some huge change in attitude about taking a "countdown" blog past Zero Hour.

Even if it didn't always read like it, this blog took considerable time and energy. Certainly, more than I anticipated. And I am happy to set down this burden. For more World Cup coverage, check my regular blog over at

On the final day of countdownsa-2010 ... my predictions for the knockout rounds, through the championship match on July 11.

Thanks for reading, and on to the picks!

Round of 16:

France 1, Greece 0
Germany 2, England 2 (PK 4-3)
Netherlands 3, Paraguay 1
Brazil 3, Chile 1
Argentina 3, Mexico 2
United States 2, Serbia 1
Italy 1, Cameroon 0
Spain 3, Portugal 2

My thoughts: All the knockout-phase matchups are big, but the biggest in terms of global soccer is Germany and England colliding this early ... because I have Germany finishing second in Group D. Germany is something of a nightmare for England, and so are penalties, and I see those two factors conspiring to knock out England earlier than just about anyone expected. One of England's key players ... Frank Lampard, I believe it was ... conceded that penalties have become an issue of mental distress for England. And that is how I see them going out, after a spirited match with the always cool and collected Germans. ... France over Greece. Sure. Greece defends wonderfully, but Les Bleus will find a way to score and Greece will not. ... The Dutch will have little trouble with Paraguay and Brazil will rock Chile, turning up the effort with the final in sight. ... I see Argentina over Mexico in a vastly entertaining match. Lionel Messi perhaps doing enough to keep Diego "El Jefe Loco" Maradona's team in it. ... The big surprise here is the United States stunning Serbia 2-1. Serbia will get caught looking ahead a bit against the unfancied Yanks, who will just be hitting their stride after recovering from the tourney-opening defeat vs. England. ... Italy will do what Italy does, squeezing the life out of Cameroon, the only African national (from six) to survive group play. (And yes, for long-time readers of this blog; I have changed my mind on that contention that an African team would make the semis. I might have been able to see Ivory Coast in the semis, but that was before Didier Drogba was injured.) ... And Spain over Portugal will be great fun, as well. Lots of attacking.


Germany 2, France 0
Brazil 4, Netherlands 2
United States 2, Argentina 1
Italy 1, Spain 0

My thoughts: One major surprise here, one smaller one. The major surprise is the U.S. taking down Argentina. This is about the Americans, yes, but it also is about El Jefe Loco, who is going to cost the Argentines the World Cup ... and this is when it El Diego costs his team. Whether it is some idiotic lineup (benching Lionel Messi, for example), or ridiculous substitutions, or getting red-carded, or (most likely) tactical stupidity that allows a team with a fraction of Argentina's talent to pull off the upset. ... Italy over Spain is an upset in the sense of Spain's three-year run of dominance (only one defeat) , but Italy is the defending champion and a semifinals regular, so it's not exactly a global shock. The Azzurri always are well-organized in the back, and I see them frustrating a Spanish team that never got really comfortable on offense -- and certainly had not seen a defense like that of Italy in getting to the Final Eight. ... Germany over France is no great surprise. Any team led by Raymond Domenech (that would be France) is lucky to have made the final eight. ... The match that produces the most excitement will be Brazil over the Netherlands, where goals will come fast and furious. The Dutch are not afraid to go forward against Brazil, and will penetrate to the goal -- but will be stung by counterattacks and will give up a late goal to make the game look a little less even than it was.


Brazil 2, Germany 1
Italy 2, United States 0

My thoughts: As expected, really. Germany shows grit and organization, but Brazil has just too much offense. Italy has been out this late plenty of times. The United States hasn't. And the Yanks play poorly on a big stage, never coming close to scoring after the best showing in the country's history.


Brazil 2, Italy 1

My thoughts: Brazil still has great talent, but under the stern and clever Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri -- ridiculously known as "Dunga" (dopey) -- will demonstrate that his nickname has far outlived its usefulness. Under Dunga, Brazil can defend, as well attack. The South Americans will score early, and Italy will come out of its shell, allowing Brazil to get forward for a 2-0 lead. Italy gets a late coach with everyone thrown forward but will not be able to get even. ... Brazil is champion of the world for an unprecedented sixth time, and Europe's inability to win outside its home continent (about to be 0-9 all-time) continues.

Game 1 kickoff in ... about 90 minutes. Good luck to your team!

1 comment:

  1. I will miss my daily trip to Countdown. Thank you.