We're down to the last eight teams. Here's a look at the matchups and some predictions:
Netherlands vs. Brazil -- Let's start with an upset. For everyone who has penciled in Brazil as champs, not so fast. I just don't see these guys doing the Samba while hoisting the golden ball trophy on July 11th. Yes, this is an insanely talented bunch, but I can't get past the fact that they conceded a goal against North Korea (who allowed seven vs. Portugal) and couldn't score against the Portuguese.
I like the Netherlands chemistry. Midfielder Wesley Sneidjer, who led Inter Milan to the Champions League crown, sets the table nicely for Dirk Kuyt, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Robin Yount (just seeing if you were paying attention). They are a Garnett-Pierce-Allen caliber striker trio. Robben's rocket for Bayern Munich at Manchester United may be the goal of 2010.
Score: Netherlands 2, Brazil 1.
Uruguay vs. Ghana -- This is one of those matchups where one first thinks, "Is one of these teams really going to the final four?" Uruguay was impressive winning Group A without giving up a goal. South American sides make up half of the last eight and we could have a repeat of 2006 when one continent sent four teams to the semifinals (Italy, France, Germany, Portugal). But Ghana, with its bevy of European club talent is the pick here. The Black Stars proved against the U.S. that they punish teams who make mistakes. Plus, a World Cup in Africa with no squad from the Dark Continent in the final four? This result makes for a much better story.
Score: Ghana 1, Uruguay 0.
Germany vs. Argentina -- The Germans have already put a four-spot on the board twice in two different matches (Australia, England) but they used up their good karma on the most controversial play of the competition when Frank Lampard's blast that hit the crossbar and clearly bounced over the line (there's no instant replay at this level for what reason?) was somehow not ruled a goal that would have brought the English level. No good deed goes unpunished.
Argentina has been the class of the field so far, racking up three victories in group play and a 3-1 triumph over Mexico in the round of 16. Lionel Messi is the star and is as good as promised.
The highly underrated Carlos Tevez is finally earning some world class props. Manchester United was never the same after Tevez left them for Man City.
Score: Argentina 2m Germany 1 (the Germans score a second goal in stoppage time but it's disallowed).
Spain vs. Paraguay -- Paraguay's defenders are a dogged bunch. "This group wouldn't give away a goal in a backyard kickabout with their sons," observed ESPN's Ian Darke during Paraguay's shutout victory over Japan.
But after an embarrassing loss to Switzerland in the first game of group play, Spain looks like a team determined to prove its real deal status, outscoring the next three opponents, 5-1.
Paraguay will put up a tough fight but the la roja attack led by Villa, Iniesta, Torres (who is due for a breakout game) and Alonso will prevail here.
Score: Spain 2, Paraguay 0.
Before arriving in Wisconsin, Mark was a TV sports director at stations in Greensboro, the Quad Cities and Fort Smith, Arkansas. He got his first job at the ABC affiliate in Syracuse during his junior year at Syracuse University where he majored in TV and Radio at the Newhouse School.
Mark is an avid fan of all sports. He covered the Packers at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans and has also reported on the Final Four, the Daytona 500, the Rose Bowl, the NLCS and the PGA and U.S. Open golf championships. He covered the GMO for 20 years. Mark played soccer in high school and is a passionate supporter of "The Beautiful Game." One of his greatest experiences was attending a UEFA Champions League game hosted by Real Madrid at Bernabeu Stadium.
Mark was born in Philadelphia but has happily made the transition from cheese steaks to cheese heads and is thrilled to now call Wisconsin home. He is currently president of Concannon Communications LLC and working on projects involving, writing, producing, voice-overs and public relations.