Conservativeness won’t get teams any further
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With a couple of days off from the World Cup, it is the perfect time to reflect, and more importantly, look forward to the final eight games of the tournament.
One thing has become rather clear, conservative football won’t win games from here on in.
In the wake of arguably the worst game of the tournament between Paraguay and Japan, the conservative football played by the Asian side saw it eliminated at the round of 16.
There was a lack of adventure from the Japanese, and they paid for it, deservedly, in a penalty shootout.
But with only eight teams left, the run of the conservative will end here.
The first quarter final between Uruguay and Ghana is an unpredictable tie.
The South Americans have played some entertaining football this tournament, but have a tendency of going back into their shell when a goal up.
They hung on against Mexico in the group stage, but allowed South Korea the freedom and possession to get back into the game in the last round.
They did, and only a stunning strike from the impressive Luis Suarez rescued Uruguay.
Ghana probably lacks the talent to defeat a Uruguay in full flight and appear to have a reliance on Asamoah Gyan to find the net.
He has – three times – including a fine individual winner against the USA in extra time.
Like the Paraguay-Japan clash, this game has the potential of becoming a battle of not wanting to lose rather than trying to win.
Whoever plays with more adventure will win, and it should be Uruguay.
But the winner is facing a tough challenge in the semi final against the winner of a huge quarter final between Brazil and the Netherlands.
The Netherlands will need to expand their attacking game to overcome favourite Brazil.
Scraping through won’t be an option with a conservative style; the Dutch will need to take the game to the in-form Brazilians.
In reality, they won’t stop Brazil from scoring, so they will need to find the net, probably more than once, to progress.
Like Brazil, Diego Maradona’s Argentina hasn’t held back in an attacking sense this tournament, but it could be their potential downfall against the young, quick and counterattacking Germans.
The Argentines love controlling possession and would love for Lionel Messi to find his first Cup goal, although along with Brazil, they appear to have the most avenues to goal.
Gonzalo Higuain (four goals) and Carlos Tevez (two) are a formidable pairing when you consider Messi is in just behind.
They have also appeared a danger from the set piece, particularly corners.
Creating chances won’t be difficult, but taking them will be important, as will the presence of Javier Mascherano in the holding midfield role, to counter the fluent and clinical German counter.
The winner will most likely meet Spain, who plays Paraguay in its quarterfinal.
Spain appears to have a reliance on David Villa for goals, but while they remain in the tournament the likes of Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and co could find some goal scoring touch.
Or they can simply rely on Villa, who is in superb form in front of goals.
The way the new Barcelona man is handled with an out of form Torres will be interesting.
Paraguay could let loose with the level of expectation just about out the window.
It is an attacking threat and should explore the option against the Spaniards.
Regardless, conservative football has barely won games in South Africa thus far, although some teams did progress, but it certainly won’t get teams any further.
How will the games pan out and who will meet in the final?