We're starting to see teams drop off the map, getting ready for the inevitable Happy Trails post at the end of this round, the plus side is it makes recapping who is up and who is down a heckuva lot easier.
ON: Mario Mandzukic--Clearly the Bayern Munich man knew what he was doing, setting up one goal, scoring two more, and generally being the ultimate thorn in the side of Cameroon. Croatia's nowhere near their 1998 peak, but Mandzukic is rapidly inserting himself alongside Madrid's Modric as a man worth watching at all times.
OFF: Alex Song--Meanwhile Barca's buddy Alex Song has joined the ranks of infamy with his cousin Rigobert (red carded in two consecutive world cups) and Portugal's Pepe for some of the most boneheaded play on the world's biggest stage. Between a mock strike before the cup, a thanks-refs-for-making-it-closer-than-it-should-have-been game against Mexico and the disaster in Manaus, Song may just be the most convenient scape goat...but still...if it walks like a goat and bleats like a goat...
ON: Gary Medel--Sure we named him our Hip-Star of Chile's team and touted them to break through to the second round, and that may account for a lot of why we keep plugging him here, but, c'mon, be honest, the man was a maniac in the back against La Furia Roja, shutting down as much as captain/keeper Bravo and displaying the tenacity that has made him beloved in Cardiff.
OFF: Vicente Del Bosque--The mastermind of the past 3 Championships seems to be all out of brain cells. Nothing he tries works. Nothing he draws up comes true. No substitute provides a spark, and the team that had the whole world quaking in their boots has been exposed like a Bat Boy in the Weekly World News. Sorry Boss.
ON: Robben & Robin--If ever there was a Dutch superhero duo it might just be Robin^2. They've got style, they've got panache and they've got just the right touch to make opponents dread getting up in the morning. Of course, the history of World Cups is littered with teams who made two good showings...so, temper those hopes everyone.
OFF: Common Wisdom--Australia stinks. Really, really stinks. They'll be lucky to smell the goal. That's the sense that common wisdom had of the Socceroos before the cup began, and sure, they still don't have a point to their name, but if you had to face a team right now with all your lunch money on the line would you rather face Austrlia or Spain?...Yeah...me too.