So far, What a SWC!
Cape Town - There is something floating in the Brazilian air. I don’t know what it is but it seems to have affected the SWC teams in mostly a good way.
We have to take into account at what happened four years ago. Ke Nako, remember?
Jabulani, the official ball of 2010 caused quite a stir when South Africa held the prestigious event. Italy's goalkeeper Federico Marchetti had described the Jabulani as the “worst ball” in SWC history and said that it was “difficult to read and goes faster than normal balls”.
We saw how conservative teams played in 2010 which made for boring watching. Teams sat back and waited straight-up Italian style. It might even have been due to the cold weather The Telegraph reported. “South Africa was cold. This World Cup has been pretty warm. Uncomfortably warm, in parts. Perhaps the conditions might be contributing to games opening up.
Australian coach Ange Postecoglou said in the article, “It’s contributed to the openness of the competition, because games get spread in warmer climates. That’s why you’ve seen some pretty open games.”
While we can consider that statistic one cannot deny this one: The Brazilian SWC has seen more goals than any of the previous events prior to the start of the last 16. In 2010 at the end of the group stages 101 goals were scored. This time around 136 goals were scored (2.83 goals per match) nine shy from all the goals that was scored in the entire 2010 tournament. Thank you goal-line technology.
There were thirteen monotonous draws in 2010 with “park the bus” tendencies at its highest compared to the seven draws in this campaign. But in all honesty, out of those seven encounters there was nothing monotonous about the Portugal vs USA, Ghana vs Germany and Algeria vs Russia draw.
From a football perspective teams have been playing positive with an entertaining brand of the game, that if it continues until the end of the final whistle on the 13 July (SWC Final) it could be regarded as the best tournament ever.
The Netherlands take on Mexico after having produced fantastic performances with a formation which could either be a 5-3-2 that naturally turns into (on attack) 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3 because of their versatile wing backs. This saw the Oranje thrash current World Champions Spain 5-1 and while we’re speaking about the La Roja they then got beaten 2-0 by Chile.
Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica have been the splitting image of one another in terms of being unafraid to go for it. Their attack minded play has left me wondering what else could possibly happen in this surprising tournament, especially from the novice football nations. All have advanced through to the last 16 with Chile taking on hosts Brazil, Colombia clashes with Uruguay and Costa Rica go head to head against Greece.
France has been looking a different fit than four years ago with Benzema firing from all corners. Didier Deschamps no nonsense management has seen this team play a dynamic game, one that could go all the way if no hiccups in the camp diverge attitudes. One wonders what they can do when they face a tougher opponents although I foresee them overhauling Nigeria. The same goes for Messi-tina.
Argentina needs to rock up their defence and quickly, their saviour Messi is in need of strong a armour behind his lethal attack, every warrior does. They face Switzerland where fearless Xherdan Shaqiri believes that his “little” home nation can upset Argentina after he scored the 50th hat trick in SWC history against Honduras.
Belgium grinded out three wins as Vincent Kompany’s charges continue to work hard to get results but we still have to see what happens when they are forced actually to play to their full potential and USA, who are considered the fittest team are bound to test the Red Devils.
Algeria’s passionate fans will steer them on against the Germans but that won’t be enough as Joachim Loew’s men means business especially with Thomas Mueller in goal scoring form.
More interesting statistics (via The Telegraph)
The last 16 all have one aim in mind and that is to get as close as possible to lifting the 18 carat gold trophy and whatever aroma the footballing stars have been inhaling that has seen teams play fearlessly, may it long continue because what a world cup it has been so far.
Follow Tashreeq Vardien on twitter: @tash23vard