The likelihood of a European nation winning its first World Cup away from the continent is fast dwindling if not all but dead with only six teams – an all-time low – having qualified for the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
With the shock and embarrassing early exits of defending champions Italy and 1998 champions France – both finalists four years ago in Germany – and the stuttering performances from once fancied Germany and Spain, and with powerhouse England already out, it is hard to find where a European team will add to the continent’s haul of nine World Cups.
Making matters worse for the European cause is there numbers will continue to be halved by the quarter-final stage as Spain play neighbours Portugal and the Netherlands face Slovakia. Or if you are cup half-full kind of person, then they are guaranteed three teams into the quarterfinals. Click for World Cup Betting Odds.
It is plausible that not one European team will make the final four – the winner of Spain/Portugal has the best chance with a potential quarter-final against the winner of Paraguay/Japan.
Meanwhile, South America, also winners of nine World Cups, boast a number of teams that look the goods after dominating the group stages. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay all topped their groups while Chile was only pipped by Spain on goal difference.
Or could one of the other continents finally break through and put an end to the European and South American dominance at the World Cup like Japan or Ghana? Please click for the latest online betting.
Two-time champions Uruguay will fancy its chances to reach the semi-finals but so too will the other combatants in the top quarter of the knockout draw against Ghana. It is arguably the easiest section of the knockout round but elsewhere expect plenty of fireworks.
Argentina, who now play Germany, will likely clash will the Spain/Portugal winner in the semi-final.
It doesn’t look much better for two-time runners-up Netherlands as they play Slovakia for a likely shot against five-time champions Brazil.
Round of 16:
Saturday, June 26
Uruguay d South Korea, 2-1
Ghana United States, 2-1
Sunday, June 27
Germany d England in Blomfontein, 4-1
Argentina d Mexico in Johannesburg, 3-1
Monday, June 28
Netherlands v Slovakia in Durban, 10am
Brazil v Chile in Johannesburg, 2.30pm
Tuesday, June 29
Paraguay v Japan in Pretoria, 10am
Spain v Portugal in Cape Town, 2.30pm