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Quarter Finals

So we are down to the final eight, with South American nations providing 50% of the remaining teams (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay), Europe supplying three (Netherlands, Spain and Germany) and finally the sole African team of Ghana. This is just going to be a quick preview of the quarter finals of the World Cup of 2010.

The quarter finals kick off on Friday afternoon with a cracking tie between two heavyweight footballing nations. Sadly the majority of England will be working as the Netherlands take on Brazil at 3pm in Port Elizabeth. The Dutch have quietly gone about their business in winning fashion, and despite not playing the most exciting brand of football have won each of their four games in South Africa in a rugged but strong fashion. Despite drawing 0-0 in their dead rubber group match against Portugal, Brazil are looking much the favourites to be lifting the trophy a week on Sunday, mixing their silky samba skills with a strong defensive backline, and thus I expect the Brazilians to be too much for Holland and continue their march towards yet another World Cup Final appearance.

Following on from that mouth-watering clash on Friday is the Uruguay v Ghana match-up. Both teams have been hugely impressive in their travels to this quarter final. Led by the dangerously exciting front line of Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan, Uruguay have provided their best performance in a World Cup since they won the competition in 1950. By winning Group A it has ensured that they can get as far as the Semi Finals by playing against teams they would fancy themselves against. But one slight issue for Uruguay is that they are facing the last remaining African nation in the competition, Ghana. With the whole continent behind them and many others stretching across the globe, Ghana have been a breath of fresh air in this World Cup, despite not having star man Michael Essien available they have continued to play a smash-mouth brand of football where they have used strength, skill and pace to get them to within touching distance of being the first African nation to make it to the final four of the World Cup. My heart says Ghana but unfortunately my head is telling me the Uruguayan strike duo will shoot down African dreams of a semi-final on African soil.

Saturday afternoon showcases the second must see game of these quarter finals – it was at this stage in 2006 Argentina and Germany locked horns in a fiery contest in which the Germans prevailed thanks to a penalty shoot-out on home soil. Diego Maradona has without doubt been the star attraction for Argentina, upstaging his players from the touchlines, but has somehow managed to turn round the desperate squad from the World Cup Qualifiers in to an exciting team that is playing with the carefree spirit of Maradona himself. Quite how Leo Messi has not scored in this World Cup is extraordinary, but the goals have been shared by joint top goalscorer Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez. But in front of them are the Germans, the less that is said about Sunday’s result the better, but bloody hell, they are looking good. They are definitely one of the surprise packages, by that I mean not because of how far they have got, but by the style of football they have played. Despite having lost 1-0 to Serbia when Miroslav Klose was sent off, Germany have been one of the more entertaining teams, with four of their players having played in the Under 21’s European Championship victory of last year. Germany has integrated these young players with the more seasoned professionals of Lahm, Klose and Schweinsteiger into team that can and will push Argentina to their limits. With the Argentinean defence yet to be really tested in this tournament, I am going to plump for a controversial German victory, but then again with the little magician Lionel Messi anything is possible – expect this to be a cracker whatever the result.

Finally Saturday night sees Spain take on rank outsiders Paraguay for the final spot in the semi-finals. Despite an early blip against the Swiss, Spain are beginning to find their stride, David Villa is yet again proving why he is the best striker in the world, but there must be worries over the form of Fernando Torres who has quite frankly looked unfit in each game he has played. Something does not seem right with El Nino and I suspect he has been rushed in to playing at these World Cup Finals after getting injured for Liverpool late in the season. Paraguay have had two nil-nil draws in this tournament and have only won one game outright against Slovakia. After a drab penalty shoot-out victory against Japan in the final 16, Paraguay have had a fantastic run but I suspect the road ends here and the South Americans return home.

Seeing as our predictions are always horrendously wrong, expect each result to go the other way. We hope you enjoy the weekend’s football as much as we will, and as always we would like to know your opinion, so why not let us know your thoughts.