Sorry for the lack of posts everybody, I was unavoidably delayed. It will take too long to recap the weekend, and by now you probably know what happened anyway. Let's just get to the predictions.
France vs. Norway
France has played very well this tournament, and have only gotten better as it goes on. Norway has played very strong as a team this tournament. That's the reason they're through. So who will win this matchup? France. France has been impenetrable on defence lately, and Norway does not have the talent to penetrate it. Norway has not faced a defence like France's. Germany's defence is not good, El Salvador's defence is just as bad, Scotland didn't have a defence, and Jamaica's defence is right on par with the bottom 10 teams. France's defence is a big step up. Any Norway striker will be suffocated, and the only hope they have is to shoot from outside and hope something manages to luckily find its way in. The main difference in the game will be France's strikers. France will get shots off, and if they're remotely on target, they'll go in. France has some very good shooters, so expect a lot of what you saw Germany do to Norway in terms of shooting. Norway has some hustlers in midfield, and this is the only way they'll win. France's midfield is a little slow, and a couple Norway 1-2's near half will be the pinnacle of their goal-scoring opportunities. Yeah, Norway is playing well as a "team," but so is France. They won't have a letdown of last year's quarterfinal happen again. France wins, 4-1.
Germany vs. Laos
Germany advanced after an exciting win over Norway on Monday to take first in the group. Props to Germany. They had a big game to win, and they finally did it. Congratulations Germany! Your prize is...a quarterfinal against Laos. But maybe this is a prize they want. Laos is reeling after getting absolutely pummeled by France on Saturday(they got killed, and if you dispute that, you're wrong), then only winning 2-1 on Sunday against a physical Austria team. So do we write Laos off? Not at all. They're a very dangerous team, and come flying at you with quick touches and speedy players. They'll have their entire team there on Wednesday, and they'll be mad. But Germany has been playing very well lately, and will up to the challenge. Germany can beat Laos by doing a couple things. Don't rush into tackles, and mark your man. France did this very good, and Germany can do the same. If Laos can break free from Germany's defence just a couple times, this game will open up, and give it to Laos. But I think Germany will be pretty amped up about being in the playoffs, will play hard, and I think they can steal one from Laos. This one should be a high scoring game regardless. Germany wins, 5-4.
Ireland vs. Nigeria
The least intriguing matchup of the playoffs. Nigeria is good, but not Beat-Ireland good. If Nigeria can keep it close, it will be a success. In order to beat Ireland, you need to have a stellar defence and good goalkeeping. Nigeria does not have this. Ireland can shoot, and they can shoot good. I'm not writing Nigeria off completely, but they shouldn't be able to compete with Ireland if Ireland plays well. If Nigeria can catch them sleeping, that will be something special. Ireland wins, 6-1.
Canada vs. Poland
Canada finally showed their strength against Ireland. They play a similar style to Ireland, and it was clear to see that if they come to play, Canada is hard to beat. Canada gets to take on a Polish team that rolled through their group. Poland never faced a extremely strong opponent, but are nonetheless a very good team. Canada might finally be gelling as a team, and if they are, it's coming at the right time. Canada has a big and tough defence, but they are susceptible to getting out of position. Overall Canada is a big team, and would have a tougher time against a very small team like Laos. Simply put, they play well against players like themselves. Poland is not a team like Canada, but Canada still matches up well player for player. This will be the most intriguing game, because no one is really sure how good either team is. When Canada comes to play, they are very good. They'll show up for the quarterfinal. Canada wins, 3-2.