After yesterday’s relaxing day off, we are back and ready to go with the meat of the competition: the knock-out phase.
The last sixteen as us boring English speakers call it; the ‘oitavos’ to the locals.
Today’s pair of matches is a strangely South American affair: due to an irony of the draw, (or a complete cock-up, depending on your view of FIFA), there are four South American teams all battling it out for a single semi-final spot.
Two of those teams will take the (relatively) short trip home after today’s games, as Brazil take on Chile in a tough match, before international pariahs Uruguay are (hopefully) thrashed by everyone’s favourite second team Colombia in the late kick-off.
They are predicting at least 10,000 yellow-and-green-clad locals and foreigners to descend on the sporadically present Fanfest, and with a friend visiting who is not especially keen on being crushed to death with love, we will be reporting on this vital match from the confines of a cute, local eatery behind my apartment: some fish, rice, beans, and the Seleção – what could be more local?
Brazil have certainly not been firing on all cylinders in the first three matches, whilst Chile have impressed in their opening two appearances, if not the almost-dead rubber against Holland. They have some impressive fire-power, and could well make things awkward for my host nation.
I guess I am cheering for Brazil, purely in the interests of seeing the party continue. Plus they have joint-top scorer Neymar anxious to drag his team-mates kicking, screaming and (occasionally) diving into the quarter-finals
We may brave the post-match carnage of the Fanfest to take in the other South American tussle, when we will see if a Suarez-less Uruguay has any bite left, (sorry!), to upset one of the new favourites for the title, Colombia, who have hammered every team they faced so far.
Despite losing world superstar Falcao to injury before the first ball was kicked in anger, Colombia have ample replacements in some of the players of the tournament so farL James Rodriquez, Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez, (who is only a substitute in this attack-filled squad!)
Finally, some gossip from yesterday continuing the ‘what are the African teams playing at?’ theme from yesterday’s blog:
Nigeria, days before their knock-out match against France, cancelled their training session yesterday…in a dispute over bonuses!!
Given how things worked out for Cameroon and the Ivory Coast, it may be worth betting quite heavily on ‘les bleus‘ to proceed…
The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a Suarez to spoil the view, and it’s game time…game time in Brazil!