Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 WCP Cup Quarterfinals Preview

Tonight's the night. More games than Super Saturday and more entertaining than the Thursday of Shattered Dreams. This is Wanker Wednesday, when every team goes balls-to-the-walls and tries to claim top-four superiority. The games start early and go late, so make sure you have a designated driver to get you home safe.

Ireland (A1) vs Germany (C2), 6:30 p.m. - Might as well get it started with an upset. Germany have been knocking on the door of respectability for about five years and since the word is ending in 2012, its high time for a Republic of Ireland apocalypse. Germany managed a miraculous last-second win against Nigeria and got scorched by a comeback from Poland. This team has already been through it all and has enough goal scorers that it can keep pace with the dangerous Irish. Ireland has slipped ever-so-slightly in form and it catches the wrong team in the wrong round. This game will be super-close because Jonah will play great in the Irish net. Germany wins 4-3.

El Salvador (D1) vs Laos (B2), 7:30 p.m. - El Salvador has had two big wins in a row against France and Norway when its playoff life was on the line. Laos is shell-shocked from the Canada loss on Sunday. These are two teams hungry for a win and I'm going with the three-time finalist over the soldiers of fortune. Laos has a solid team all around and they will not be denied this early in the tournament. El Salvador has a few free-kick specialists who can't expect to keep getting the game delivered on a platter. Also, Evan is fairly adept at stopping said free kicks. El Salvador's impressive run will end. Laos wins 5-2.

Canada (B1) vs France (D2), 8:30 p.m. - More than any other game, this one looks like a showcase of Regina soccer talent. It's essentially the men's Inter squad vs a collection of top-end Regina players who face off regularly in the RSA league. Throw in a couple Yorkton guys and suddenly we've got a game that everyone has seen 10 times if they've watched any Regina soccer for the past three years. And I think its great. Don't get me wrong, I love having the Saskatoon guys in the tournament because they make it way more interesting. But I also love a playoff game where I can look at every player on every team and know exactly what they're going to do because I've seen it 50 times before. And I know what's going to happen in this one: Canada will win and it won't be that competitive. France can score goals, but for some reason it can't play great defense this year. Canada's midfield is going to control the game and they're going to get open looks that won't be denied. Canada wins 3-2.

Poland (C1) vs Sudan (A2), 9:30 p.m. - It couldn't have been planned like this, so thankfully the soccer gods blessed us with the best game of the night in the final time slot. Poland has looked shaky at times, but they always seem to get the job done. Sudan is an athletic force that scores beauty goals and plays with a reckless abandon that is incredibly fun to watch and sometimes ridiculously detrimental to its own fortunes. We can be sure that Sudan will be jacked for this one because it always rises to the occasion in front of big crowds. We can be equally sure that Poland won't be pushed around, will tackle hard and will essentially try and be a bully out there. I'm not sure Sudan can handle that kind of grind-it-out game. As much as I cheer for flair over muscle, I'm thinking muscle is going to have a vintage Popeye night. Poland wins 5-4.

No comments: