Soccer: The last eight - how they all shake down

Our football experts break down the eight quarterfinallists and their chances of World Cup glory.

Netherlands v Brazil

Port Elizabeth - Tomorrow, 2am, Sky Sport 2, TV One

The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium welcomes a repeat of the 1998 semifinal, with both sides heading into the match unbeaten after winning their groups. The Dutch were boosted by the return of the fit-again Arjen Robben against Slovakia in the last round and will look to prolong their 12-match unbeaten run in competitive games under Bert van Marwijk tomorrow. The pitch is cut up badly after rain and six games.


Lethal when cutting in on to his left, Robben impressed on Monday but will come up against a left-back enjoying a fine tournament, Michel Bastos.


Odds on making semifinals: 7-2.

Top scorer: Wesley Sneijder 2.

Suspended/injured: Seven players are a booking from missing the semifinal.

How they got here: Group stage: Beat Denmark 2-0, beat Japan 1-0, beat Cameroon 2-1. Round 2: Beat Slovakia 2-1.


Odds on making semifinals: 6-5 on.

Top scorer: Luis Fabiano 3.

Injured: Elano (ankle).

Suspended: Ramires (one match).

How they got here: Group stage: Beat North Korea 2-1, beat Ivory Coast 3-1, drew with Portugal 0-0. Round 2: Beat Chile 3-0.

* * *

Uruguay v Ghana

Johannesburg - Tomorrow, 6.30am, Sky Sport 2, TV One

Milovan Rajevac's Ghana side carry the hopes of a continent, seeking to become the first African side to reach the last four. Uruguay will also fancy their chances of making the last four for the first time in 40 years. Striker Luis Suarez has continued his fine form from his 49-goal season with Ajax in Holland.


In his second World Cup, Asamoah Gyan has relished filling the lone-striker role for the Black Stars, scoring three of their four goals. Uruguay captain Diego Lugano has been a key factor in his side's fine defensive showing and will look to keep Gyan quiet.


Odds on making semifinals: Evens.

Top scorer: Luis Suarez 3.

Suspended: None. Injured: Diego Godin (thigh), Diego Forlan (toe).

How they got here: Group stage: Drew with France 0-0, beat South Africa 3-0, beat Mexico 1-0. Round 2: Beat South Korea 2-1.


Odds on making semifinals: 16-5.

Top scorer: Asamoah Gyan 3.

Suspended: Andre Ayew, Jonathan Mensah (one match). Injured: None.

How they got here: Group stages: Beat Serbia 1-0, drew with Australia 1-1, lost to Germany 1-0. Round 2: Beat United States 2-1 (aet).

* * *

Argentina v Germany

Cape Town, Sunday, 2am, Sky Sport 2, TVNZ 7

Diego Maradona's attempt to become only the third person to win the World Cup as both a player and manager continues as Argentina seek revenge for their penalty shoot-out loss at the same stage four years ago.

The manager was also part of the 1990 Argentina side that lost to West Germany in the final. Both teams are at their best going forward.


Mesut Ozil's smart passing and space-finding ability have lit up the tournament and Javier Mascherano will have to be at his belligerent best to quell the German playmaker.


Odds on making semifinals: 6-5.

Top scorer: Gonzalo Higuain 4.

Suspended: None.

Injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: Beat Nigeria 1-0, beat South Korea 4-1, beat Greece 2-0. Round 2: Beat Mexico 3-1.


Odds on making semifinals: 12-5.

Top scorer: Thomas Muller 3.

Suspended: None. Injured: Cacau (stomach), Podolski (muscle).

How they got here: Group stage: Beat Australia 4-0, lost to Serbia 1-0, beat Ghana 1-0. Round 2: Beat England 4-1.

* * *

Paraguay v Spain

Johannesburg, Sunday, 6.30am, Sky Sport 2, TV One

European champions Spain bounced back in style from their opening-game defeat to Switzerland to be seen as serious contenders to win a first World Cup, but come up against Gerardo Martino's side who have conceded just one goal so far in the finals. Spain's David Villa has lived up to his pre-tournament billing with four goals after his strike against Portugal this week, and presents the main threat to Paraguay, who are already enjoying their best ever World Cup showing.


Barcelona felt David Villa was good enough to pay $76.6 million for his services. The Wigan defender Antolin Alcaraz, inexperienced at this level, will have his hands full against the Euro 2008 top scorer.


Odds on making semifinals: 7-1.

Top scorer: Antolin Alcaraz, Cristian Riveros, Enrique Vera 1.

Suspended: None. Injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: Drew with Italy 1-1, beat Slovakia 2-0, drew with New Zealand 0-0. Round 2: Beat Japan on pens (0-0).


Odds on making semifinals: 9-4 on.

Top scorer: David Villa 4.

Suspended: None. Injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: Lost 1-0 to Switzerland, beat Honduras 2-0, beat Chile 2-1. Round 2: Beat Portugal 1-0.


- NZ Herald

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