Every single Group winner advanced to the Quarterfinals from the Round of 16. It was probably the most memorable round of World Cup play in its history. The bracket held to form but in the most improbable manner one can imagine. FIFA could not have hoped for a more exciting round of soccer than what we just witnessed and yet still kept the heavyweights alive.
Brazil wins on penalty kicks over Chile in front of its stunned home masses in a precursor to the rest of the Round of 16. Chile was formidable and we should see more of them in 4 years.
Holland escaped an upset bid by Mexico but it took a tying goal in the 88th minute and the winner in the 94th minute in extra time on a controversial penalty to advance.
Columbia dispatched a toothless Uruguay (no pun intended) 2-0 as we saw the emergence of the globe’s next superstar striker, James (Ha-mes) Rodriguez.
Costa Rica kept its Cinderella story alive as it got past Greece on penalty kicks after coughing up the tying goal in the 91st minute.
France got past a feisty Nigerian squad only after finally tallying in the 80th minute by one of my pre-WC players to watch, Paul Pogba.
Argentina, my pick to win it all, took 118 minutes to finally escape an impressive Switzerland team on a beautiful assist by Lionel Messi.
Germany got past African nemesis, Algeria, 2-1 with all 3 goals coming in extra time.
and finally, a stacked Belgium squad pelted the United States goal with a barrage of shots and controlled most of the game but only escaped with a 2-1 score thanks to NHL-like goaltending from Tim Howard. It’s never good when the goalie is your most outstanding player.
This entire round was like some kind of dream. I was mesmerized and could not take my eyes off of the action. If you didn’t become a fan of international soccer after this exhibition then there is no hope for you. Just wow…and for some reason I suspect that the Quarters and Semis will be just as tantalizing.