Jul 4

World Cup - The Final Four

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags: world cup, soccer

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Photo: FIFA

Of the six World Cups that have taken place during my comprehinsible lifetime, this 2010 version has surely been the most captivating. I know the US was knocked out before we all would have liked to have seen them knocked out, but still, this event has been a treat to keep up with. I want to name a favorite country to follow from here on out, but as of right now, it is tough. I have a good reason to go with each team still alive! Every four years we are fortunate enough to expreience this global Kum By Ya, and this year thankfully is one of those four.
I vaguely remember Italia '90, except for the cool t-shirts they made for it. As 12-year olds, my teammates and I were all about the t-shirt (I played club level from third grade to tenth grade)! Four years later, in the summer of 1994, I was in Kenya, Africa on a 30-day safari while the World Cup (and my newly acquired driver's license) was in the US. The day I returned home was the day the US took on Brazil on the 4th of July. Although we lost, that was a day to remember as the game was close (0-1 L) and the Americans were deeply into it. In 1998, the Cup came to us from France, and France won dramatically. My family (minus me) was in Paris when the French's finest day took place (Zinedine Zidane scored three goals in the final). As for myself, I was a sophomore in college in 1998, and honestly, I don't remember much of anything from that time period (really). In 2002, the WC was in South Korea and Japan, and my roommates and I would watch the games at 3 am because that's when they were on. And, finally, in 2006, the Italians won it all on German terf. But this was a summer I would like to forget, and I can't tell you details of what happened (2006 wasn't my favorite year ever, let's just leave it at that)...
But here and now - in 2010 - this World Cup has been one that not only will I remember, but I have watched intensely. The American side got me into it from the start as I followed them during qualifying. And though they were eliminated earlier than hoped for in the Cup, the team's way of fighting hard, playing fair, and looking like a real team has me excited to follow them into the 2014 version from Brazil....

Now, as the World Cup enters its third week, there are four teams competing for the prized Jules Rimet Trophy.
Europe kicks some South American tail.
My favorite at this point has to be Germany, who beat Argentina 4-0 Saturday. Organization is something for which I have a deep appreciation, and Germany takes this in pride. They simply ate alive the Argentine side, and that is unheard of in soccer at this level. The other three teams are hardcore, but I am with Germany right now.
Also shocking, Brazil lost to the Netherlands, 2-1. With these two happenings, not only did two of the 2010 favorites go down, but also two of the most successful countries in WC history. They were accountable for seven Cup championships combined.
To add insult to the matter, Spain beat Paraguay 1-0 to make it a three to zip run for Europe over South America in the quarterfinals (Uruguay beat Ghana from Africa)...
As just mentioned, carrying on the South American chances of another World Cup is Uruguay. They have been in the mix since the tournament was started back in 1930. After two titles, and competing in all World Cups, the Uruguayains are ready for some more hardware. Can they beat the Dutch and carry on their continent's dream? Can the country who has been around in soccer since the start of the sport finally take home the trophy they want so badly once again? We will find out very, very soon...
How the four finalists got here.
As mentioned above, the Dutch, the Spanish and the Germans beat three South American teams in the quarterfinals to get to this point, but what about the other squad? How did they get here?
The other two team in the semifinals is Uruguay (the lone SA hope), who is steeped, steeped, steeped in history. I would love to see them bring it home for the first time in 60 years. Uruguay defeated a stingy Ghana team in what was one of the crazier games we have seen. On penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie, Uruguay won to advance.
Spain has been ranked as one of the best teams in the world the last several years, can they finally bring it home? They may be the favorites right now in the world rankings (number two), but I still feel the Germans are the team to beat.
Like I said above, they are my choice as of right now to win the whole thing. They play methodically, and when each guy does his job, they are as close as it gets to unstoppable. They are a very young team, and with their star player left off of the roster (just didnt fit the team chemistry), the rest of the team has upped their game and all are playing as one. They sent Diego Maradonna and his Argetina team off with an ablsolute butt whipping like they have yet to have in a World Cup. The legend Maradonna is one of my favorites to watch in the sport as a coach and his highlights as a player. But in this year's Cup, his team was badly out-classed by the Germans. They just beat the hell out of Argentina. Expect some serious shake ups in the Aregntine camp!

I don't know why I have to find so many things that chap my ass, but here is another I just found a second ago while finishing this up: one semifinal game is Tuesday and the other is Wednesday. WHAT?!?!?? You mean one winner gets a three day rest befor the final and the other gets only two days rest? What the hell is that all about? Nobody else in the world needs the use of these stadiums, and FIFA can't figure out scheduling to give fair rest to the two teams playing in the freakin' final?! Sure, there was a difference in days rest leading up to the semis (which I also don't understand), but to me, the final is the most important match, and you give teams equal rest coming into it. Good grief.


Uruguay vs Netherlands - Tuesday at 2:30 est on ABC

Germany vs. Spain - Wednesday at 2:30 est on ABC

My Pick: Germany

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