I'm going to look to the wisdom of Lisa the Greek episode of The Simpsons.
To paraphrase Lisa, "Well, I like Brazil because they're pure of heart, Ghana because they've got something to prove, and Australia because they always cheat."
Let's get to the wrap-up
Ghana 2, USA 1. A lot has been talked about, and I'm going to talk some more in a bit about things related to this game. But basically Garwood and I have ranted and raved enough. Ghana advances, and good for them. They were the better team, but they aren't going to be against Brazil, particularly sans Michael Essien.
Czech Republic 0, Italy 2. A lot of the American media has been so consumed with the US' "early" exit that no one seems to be noticing that the Czech's leaving is the much bigger surprise. Ghana ripping them in half was something they never recovered from. Losing Koller against the US was a huge factor, and like I said yesterday, missing Ujfalusi was a big blow. They were a man down a good chunk in this game, too. The Italians seemed to have righted the ship after looking flat against the US. This is a formidable squad, even if they do go down quicker than Paris Hilton on a trust fund dickhead.
Japan 1, Brazil 4 Uh-oh. Brazil is looking like Brazil. After a serious ballwatching offense of a goal they gave up to Japan, Brazil took control of this match. Ronaldo took advantage of some ballwatching himself, free himself up for his first goal in this game, and then waited until Gilberto and Juninho scored goals before he showed his trademark quick turn and strike. Something Brazil doesn't get enough credit for in my mind is their focus on playing defense in their own offensive third. They disrupt the slow buildup many teams who like to use against them. They run at the ball, no matter where it is. Japan's scoring the first goal aside, the Brazilians dominated, even resting some starters, and they look like they are hitting their stride right at the right time. First truly convincing victory for these guys, and it was very, very, very convincing.
Croatia 2, Australia 2 Well, Australia is quickly becoming the Oakland Raiders of this tournament. Their game tying goal, by Harry Kewell, which put them into the next round over Croatia, was scored in what should have been an offsides call that was blown. Croatia fell apart of this missed call, and the red cards started flying. Still, Australia inexplicably stayed on the attack, and should have been punished, but managed to push a guy over in the box, who had the ball, and was lining up his shot, that didn't result in a penalty kick. They got very, very lucky. Enjoy playing Italy. Should be interesting. The team that flops the most vs. the team that has gotten away with more cheap shots thus far this tournament. I know I should be rooting for Australia, as Jon Stewart said tonight, "Australia is the Drunk US. You know if the U.S. as a country got drunk, left the bar at 4 am, and drove into a tree? That's Australia." I should be rooting for my felonious cousins across the sea, but I'm not. I'm tired of their charmed luck, and wish to see them punished. A red-hot Italy seems like perfect punishment.
odd note: I'm not the only sports blogger to use Lisa the Greek in the past 48 hours.