Eight teams remain in the 2014 World Cup following the eliminations in the round of 16. The remaining match ups will pit...
France v. German
Brazil v. Colombia
Argentina v. Belgium
Netherlands v. Costa Rica
I picked 6 of the final 8 correctly only failing on my two sentimental picks with Greece losing to Costa Rica and the U.S.A. losing to Belgium in spite of an historic performance by Tim Howard the U.S. goal keeper who set the record for saves during the recorded history of World Cup matches. Records were not officially kept prior to 1950. After moving past the heartbreak of the U.S. defeat I must admit that I am excited to see the remaining teams battle it out for the title. It will be a little more relaxing to watch going forward as I do not have a vested cheering interest in any of the teams who remain. With that said once teams get narrowed down in any large sporting event I like to pick more with my heart than my head. My heart tends to lean more towards the underdogs in most but not all cases.
France v. Germany Prediction: France wins 3-2. I like the way France is playing right now. Germany some how seems to pull out wins even when they don't play at their best. Four years ago France had a rough go of it at the World Cup and Germany has a long history of success with several titles. I would prefer that France advance to the final four so that's my pick.
Brazil v. Colombia Prediction: Colombia wins 2-0. There is part of me that wants to pick Brazil because they are the host nation and it would be wonderful for their fans. I also feel badly about the pressure and scrutiny that the Brazilian players face playing at home in a nation where Football is next to religion and family in importance. Colombia's appearance in the final 8 is a surprise though, and they have looked extremely impressive in the first two rounds. It's been exciting to watch them play. I think that Brazil falters under the pressure to a young, exciting Colombian team and Colombia goes on.
Argentina v. Belgium Prediction: Argentina wins 2-2 (on kicks following extra time). This is a tough one for me. I kind of want Belgium to win because I liked the way they played against the United States. I want to see Messi advance though and that's what factors in most in my picking Argentina. I also have made two online friends who live or have lived in Argentina and that's a small additional consideration. I am still not terribly impressed with Argentina outside of Messi's performance. I think Belgium is very capable of pulling off the win here if they can contain Messi.
Netherlands v. Costa Rica Prediction: Netherlands wins 2-1. Costa Rica is likely the biggest surprise story of the tournament. I have picked against Costa Rica in the first two rounds and they proved me wrong twice now. I do like that they are a CONCACAF (? hopefully I got it right this time) nation, but I figure, what the heck, I've picked against them this far, I may as well pick against them the whole way. Costa Rica is still a beautiful place to visit though! =D The Netherlands are eager to make it back to the final four, which would be quite an achievement two World Cups in a row.
So France, Colombia, Argentina and the Netherlands advance! Book it!