The World Cup quarter-finals take place this weekend and we have some mouth-watering ties to look forward to. In today’s podcast Damon and Damian cast their eyes over the four match ups. Vocabulary, in bold from the transcript of this report can be found below. You can also:
Everyone’s favourites for the title – at least on our site’s poll – Brazil take on Holland in the first of the World Cup quarter-finals. Indeed, so much are they favourites that the Dutch are being described as ‘Brazil light’. These two sides have a history – though not as contentious as the Germany-Argentina game – going back to 1974 when the then reigning champions Brazil were torn apart by a rampaging Dutch side that included Johann Cruyff. In 1994 they met again and this time the Brazilians won 3-2 despite a wonderful comeback from the Dutch. With current manager Dunga as their captain, Brazil went on to lift the trophy on penalties that year, which is how they defeated the Dutch in the 1998 semi-finals in France. The games have always been of a high quality and no one is expecting anything less of today’s match.
Both teams are in very good form with the Dutch on a national record run of 23 games unbeaten but it is generally felt that Brazil have better discipline, organisation and more match winners in their team than Holland. True, the Dutch have Sneijder, Van Persie and Robben but Brazilian fans point to Robinho, Fabiano, Maicon and Kaka. Despite these top players, however, I am going to go for Holland partly because I feel the pressure on Brazil – and particularly Dunga – is simply too heavy for them to bear. I also feel that the Dutch have one good game in them and this could be the one, while Robben looks very impressive and I feel if he or one of his team mates scores first then it will be very interesting to see how Brazil cope. 2-1 to Holland.
Ghana – Uruguay
How fitting that Uruguay are doing so well this time round in a World Cup held on African soil. They were the first national team in South America to… field a player of African descent, years before their more famous neighbours Brazil. But what a shame that they are up against an African side in Ghana, and one of these teams will be going home come Sunday. Ghana of course, are hoping to be the first African side to reach the semi finals in a World Cup, and Uruguay, although past World Cup winners, haven’t tasted success in this competition since 1970 when they got to the semis.
I expect this match to be quite defensive, a little like Japan v Paraguay, as both teams have so much to gain from a win, and will feel so disappointed with a loss. On balance, Uruguay have looked the stronger of the two teams so far and seem to be able to score when they need to with Forlan and Suarez up front. On the other hand, Ghana have looked resilient, strong and intelligent with the ball, but lack a clinical finish.
A tight 1–1 draw with Uruguay going through on penalties.
Germany – Argentina
Germany v Argentina. Two heavyweights in the world of World Cups. Germany have three trophies to Argentina’s two, and this match has two teams with pedigree clashing in the quarter finals. Added to the history we’ve got the Europe vs South America angle. This year, four of the eight quarter finalists are from South America, and perhaps Europe will have to wait to win a World Cup outside of European soil. History and geography are interesting enough, but throw in a bit of bad blood and things get even more interesting.
The two have met five times in World Cups, with two of those meetings being in finals – Argentina winning in 1986 and Germany getting revenge four years later. However, most of the rivalry stems from the last World Cup in Germany in 2006. Germany defeated Argentina on penalties after the game ended 1-1 – after the game, but still on the pitch, a mass brawl erupted with both sides laying into one another. The memory of that has resurfaced in the build up to this game. Germany’s Sweinstagger has criticised the Argentinian fans and their team’s style of play. Maradona has responded by promising his players will be ‘in the faces’ of their opponents.
It should be an interesting game. As an England fan, with bad memories of both these teams, it’s difficult for me to choose a winner – can’t they both lose? But if push comes to shove – 2-1 to Argentina.
Spain – Paraguay
This one seems to be fairly clear-cut with the 2008 European Champions taking on a side that has only managed 3 goals so far in the tournament, which is a little unfair as Spain have only got 5 themselves. Spain are the favourites but South American sides have been pulling off surprises throughout the competition and Paraguay are nothing if not organised. Their manager, Martino, feels that his side’s discipline can see them through but anyone who watched their second round match against Japan will wonder where they will find goal-scoring opportunities. Paraguay on the other hand know very well about Spain’s goal-scoring threat – David Villa has scored 4 times already and is on fire at the moment, with Iniesta and Xavi hitting form at the right time this looks a very confident and fluid Spanish side that should be able to win through – 1-0 for me.
take on: To play against, to face
contentious: Controversial – some bad feeling between the two sides
reigning champions : Brazil had won the title in 1970, so they were the then champions, the holders
were torn apart : Completely thrashed, well beaten
rampaging: Here it means that a team were non-stop in their attacking play
to go for: To choose, to predict
to bear: To carry
field a player: play someone, choose someone to play in the team, put someone on the pitch
(to) taste success: to have experience of winning, to be successful
resilient: strong, not easily overcome, can recover from setbacks
heavyweight; a powerhouse, a traditionally strong team, a team with history
European soil: in Europe
(to) stem: to have roots in, to start in/from
(to) lay into: to punch, to fight with, to attack violently
if push comes to shove: if you are forced to give an opinion, if you have to make a choice
clear-cut: Very clear, obvious
is on fire: Villa is playing very well at the moment
fluid: Playing in a fast, passing style