What an amazing and shocking World Cup this has been. I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you. Let’s take a look at the lay of the land.
Uruguay vs France
This match will probably be well underway when this piece posts. Uruguay beat European champs Portugal and Ronaldo to get here, while France dispatched Argentina and Messi. Now they meet in the quarters. I’m a huge fan of France. I just love their front line of Griezmann, Giroud and Mbappé. Nineteen year old Mbappé, along with Harry Kane of England and Romelu Lukaku of Belgium has been one of the prime dominating forces of the tournament. My 12 year old just asked for a Kylian Mbappé jersey for her birthday. He’s electric.
I also love Paul Pogba in France’s middle. There’s a lot to like about this team. Uruguay, meanwhile, has shown several strong outings, but they’re a little suspect to me. They coasted through the easiest group in the initial round, but you have to give them credit for knocking Portugal out. I just don’t know about the South American game in general. They play with a ton of fire and passion, but it feels like all of these teams are dirty as fuck. John Stones called Colombia, “the dirtiest team I’ve ever played against.” Argentina had a player who twice should have had a red card for kicking the ball at a downed player’s head. It feels like South Americans play at the ends of the spectrum a little, with more dives and more intentional penalties, than their European counterparts. But we’ll see today.
Brazil vs Belgium
This might be the best game yet, and might be more of a semifinal game because the winner has a real shot of going to the final, especially if Uruguay somehow knocks off France. Both of these teams are absolute powerhouses. The Brazilians are a bit more creative but the Belgian strikers are every bit the destroyers that Brazil’s strikers are. I can’t seem to catch myself ever rooting for Neymar but Coutinho is great. Ditto for Marcelo and his hair.
The Brazilians are stocked head to toe with world class talent but can they play as a team and find a way to counter the Belgian attack? The Belgian team is loaded with superstars as well. The front line of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku is terrifying, but they have top players at every level. I’m pulling hard for Belgium in this one because some of Brazil’s dives have really turned me off. But it wouldn’t shock me a bit to see Brazil find a way to win. Brazil vs France is probably more exciting than Belgium vs France. But it might be Brazil vs Uruguay in a no-holds-barred-diving fest.
Russia vs Croatia
I’m disgusted that the junior varsity talent-level Russian side has made it this far. Spain was insanely better than them, but Russia bunkered and Spain seemed content to Tiki-Taki the ball anywhere but where they could score with it. I don’t know how Russia landed the world cup in the first place (cough cough bribery) and how they won a single game (cough cough a half century of state sponsored doping) or what that country did to help place a talking dildo at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (cough cough a full blown operation of co-opting the American far right) but fuck Russia eternally. Fuck Vladimir Putin and the horse he rode in on while wearing no shirt like a cock. I don’t know how they co-opted the video replay official in the Spain match, but that game was not the feel-good bullshit that all the media outlets are calling it. It was scumbags pushing an agenda, and while you can’t fake a shootout, the Russian team never should have been there in the first place. In the words of Barack Obama “you want to know what someone’s going to do? Just look at what they’ve done their whole lives.” Team Croatia is actually pretty solid, and better than Russia by about a factor of three, so if they don’t win this, you know it was fucking cheating. There’s no way Russia should be able to hang with this Croatian team. No way.
Sweden vs England
That’s England manager Gareth Southgate as Jon Snoo. This one could honestly go either way. Both teams are solid as hell. Harry Kane will give the Swedes a real challenge, but the fact that England was able to advance through a shootout may mean that a certain curse has been lifted. It really comes down to which Team Sweden will show up. If it’s the one that beat Mexico? England will have their hands full. If it’s the one that lost to Germany? That side was flatfooted and less creative. It remains to be seen which version they’ll put on the field, but either team will ultimately have their hands full with Croatia in the semis.
The header image, by the way, is a charming picture from the English side. On the left is little boy Harry Kane with a teammate getting to meet his hero Davis Beckham. On the right the teammate is now his wife and he’s captain of Team England. That’s pretty awesome.