To be honest I expected these two games to be less than exciting. I thought France and Germany would move on with little strain. Wrong again.
I have to admit the French looked a tad lethargic but that would be taking credit away from Nigeria who played tough. The French finally broke through late in regulation scoring once and bouncing a ball off a Nigerian defender for 2-0 win.
Then we had Germany v. Algeria. I was starting to look up the schedule of trains to Munich because it was that intense. The Germans looked sluggish but I suspect a lot of that had to do with the Algerian defense being all over them.
Finally Germany managed a goal in the second minute of overtime. They appeared to put it away with a second goal in extra time but Algeria wasn't finished quite yet. They managed a score with less than a minute remaining making the final 2-1.
The play of the Nigerian and Algerian sides today epitomized what's great about the World Cup. They both came so close, so close, to turning the Futball world on its ear.
After three days of the round of 16 (my picks bold, winners in italics).
Brazil v. Chile
Netherlands v. Mexico
Columbia v. Uruguay
Coata Rica v. Greece
France v. Nigeria
Argentina v. Switzerland
Germany v. Algeria
Belgium v. USA
So, it'll be Germany v. France on Friday. July 4th along with Brazil v. Columbia. So, especially if, as expected, the US loses tomorrow, we'll be hearing about the Harald Shumacher collision with Patrick Battiston in the 1982 semi-final match between the two teams (yes, 1982 again) constantly over the next couple of days.
I don't call it a foul because, despite the violence of the collision, no foul was called.
If the US manages to win, that will of course dominate the news here in the US and pretty much go unnoticed by the rest of the world.
Ok, so I'm 6-0. Argentina v. Switzerland is my wise guy pick. I'm hoping the Swiss can work some magic tomorrow. As for Belgium and the US, all logic says that Belgium is a fairly safe pick but hey, that's why you have to play the game.
The quarter-final round is going to be really tough. So far we have:
Brazil v. Columbia
France v. Germany
Netherlands v. Costa Rica
If I get both games right tomorrow, I might just retire while I'm way ahead. The reality of the situation though is I already know who I would pick in those three games.