Well 4 knockout games in the book and 4 stories of how the Cup can treat a team. We'll start with the Germany & Sweden game. I had more expectations from Sweden than they had ability. Some VERY shaky early defending gave way to 2 early Podolski goals, and the Germans rolled from there finishing with a convincing 2-0 win over Sweden and a date with the winner of Mexico and Argentina....The Mexicans came out aggressive and were rewarded with an early goal off a set-piece from Captain Marquez. Argentina knotted it up shortly after with a Crespo/Own goal combo off a corner. The second half staled and we saw our first bit of extra time. Luckily we didn't see our first shootout as Maxi Rodriguez took the mantle of Goal of the Tournament away from Joe Cole, by hitting and even better volley that proved to be the game winner in the second extra session for a 2-1 win. Argentina goes on to face the hosts in the Quarterfinals.
Sunday's action saw Engeerland face off against Ecuador. Ecuador had 2 imppressive group wins over Poland and Costa Rica, then rested the majority of their first team against Germany, resting up for this game. The plan seemed to be paying off in a 92 degree day in Stuttgart. Neither side made much of an impression, and the ABC announcing crew drove me crazy. Marcelo Balboa is shiftier than a coastal wind when talking strategy....Beckham put his stamp on the game and the history books with his free kick gem that proved to be the winner. He is the only England man to score in 3 different World Cups..kudos to the captain. England advance with the 1-0 win, it wasn't pretty, but they are in the Quarterfinals! Engalnd will face Portugal after the match-up of the weekend turned into a Russian reffing fiasco. In a mouth watering match-up that was a rematch of the Euro 2004 Semi-Final in Lisbon (Dad and I partied with the Dutch all night despite the loss) the game was testy from the get go. The very FIRST foul was given a yellow to Van Bommel and so it went for much of the afternoon. The question became, what is a foul if everything gets a card? In between whistles Maniche scored with smash in the box that proved to be enough. The game ended 1-0 Poprtugal, with 9 men on each side...crappy. The Netherlands are going to be a handful over the next 4-6 years, they have a heck of a generation who got their first taste of the big time with L'Orange... Portugal now has another Euro flashback as they face England, the game where Rooney broke his foot and English dreams 2 summers ago.
Man of the Weekend: I have to go with the local boy, the 21 year old WunderBoy put in 2 for the hosts as they look better each game. Danka for the goals Lukas!