The Sweet Sixteen has started to take shape, with two matches being officially set for Saturday and Sunday and four teams beginning to pack for a somber flight home devoid of comely stewardesses. As Brent has already seized the mantle of predictor in chief, I hereby stake my claim as Retrospectator General (mostly because, like Momar Ghadaffi, I look good in epaulets).
Poland: Ah the Polacks. That oh so trendy pick to cruise into round two behind Germany, leaving an outclassed Costa Rica and a befuddled Ecuador in their wake. Woops! Turns out they can't score unless they're tripping the keeper in the process. Artur Boruc's brilliance against Germany (for 92 minutes anyway) not withstanding, it's disappointing.
Costa Rica: Dear Paulo Wanchope,
Welcome to the wonderful world of national icon-hood.
P.s. Don't worry about those 22 other guys on the plane ride home with you. You know, the one's sobbing and stuff. Not your problem.
Paraguay: I told you at the beginning of the cup that they were a solid defense backed by a potent offense, and they proved me right. Sure, it took until the third game and they now need to revamp the lineup significantly before 2010, but I was kind of right.
Trinidad & Tobago: This has to be the saddest result possible. After a draw that made everything seem possible, after stone walling England for 75 minutes. After becoming the beloved underdog of the world, the Soca Warriors are going home. In last place. With zero goals to their credit. Sure Yorke might be back in the Premiership, and yeah Hislop can now have a field at Howard University after him. But this has to be the loudest thud after an opening bang that I can remember.
Germany: Okay, so I'm often down on the chances of the home side, today turned me around. They are, in fact, quite good. And will waltz on to their weekend showdown with the Swedes humming a happy tune and basking in the reflected glory of Miroslav Klose, the slicing, scoring, striker made with precision German engineering.
Sweden: The Huns second round opponent have looked sloppy at best and lucky at worst. Though they still possess a potent attack and unbelievably talented strikers, it's clear that they have remained close thanks in large part to keeper Andreas Isaksson. He's been bested only twice, and save the miracle volley from Joe Cole he might have put the Meatballs in ahead of England. (Still, I doubt they get past Germany)
Ecuador: While Brent abhors their uniforms, I have been greatly impressed. Who knew Marathon was in the soccer business? The colors are...oh, wait, this is about the team. So, anyway. I was ready to applaud Ecuador all the way to the Quarters, until their bout of "Which way do we go, George, which way do we go?" today against Germany. Though I love Little Christian Mora in net, the lack of punch and indeed effort for Ecuador today shows how much Carlos Tenorio and Agustin Delgado drive the squad.
England: So somehow the Three Lions cannot stop the Swedes. There may be all kinds of reasons thrown out there, but for my money, it's the distraction of the bikini team. I mean...Zatlan in a two piece is just plain HOTT. They've been profoundly inconsistent and seem more and more to be tied to Wayne Rooney, awaiting his epic destruction of all other forces. But with Owen out for heaven knows how long and Rooney still getting back into form, they'll need their defense to step up to stop Ecuador. (They'll do it, but I have to build the drama a little right?)
Tomorrow we'll see a telling match between Argentina and the Netherlands, a beatdown (hopefully) from Ivory Coast to Serbia, a showdown between Portugal and Mexico and little ol' Angola with a chance, yes a chance, of making the second round (all it takes is a win against Iran, and a Mexico loss by a couple of goals). Actually, YOU'LL see those things, I'LL be drugged up after wisdom tooth removal, so who knows what I'll see?