There I was checking out the team news for Ghana v Uruguay when a glance at the kick-off time filled me with aforementioned horror. It’s not until Friday! As in two days’ time! How am I supposed to cope without any World Cup football until Friday? What the fuck?
So far in the tournament there have been at least two matches to watch every single day but now we are into the last eight they’ve suddenly switched off the tap. It’s like forcing someone to take the purest crack and then making him go cold turkey without even a dose of methadone to keep him going. Or, in the case of Japan v Paraguay – valium. The annoying thing is they will be showing two quarter-finals on Friday and Saturday. Why don’t they play one a day? It’s worked until now?
Fortunately there is Wimbledon to keep us vaguely distracted for the next two days, but I dread to think what next week will be like, when the games will be even farther and fewer between and there are no Wimbledon Seniors matches to keep us amused. And what about the week after that? The realisation is dawning that the World Cup will soon be over and then we will only have transfer tittle-tattle to drip-feed us going until August. How do we cope during non-football summers?
At least the ill-advised two-day hiatus give us the chance to mull over the prospects of the eight teams left in the tournament. So here is a rundown of the quarter-finals and the surefire winning bets with which to fill your Burkenstocks.
Paraguay v Spain
This is a mismatch of obvious proportions but there is an obvious bet jumping out of the page: David Villa to score first. At 7/4 the Spaniard is unattractively priced to top score in South Africa – just as he did at Euro2008, but as he has been first goalscorer in each of his last three matches this match bet a no-brainer.
Back David Villa to score first @ 3/1 with Bodog
Uruguay v Ghana
This is a harder match to call. La Celeste are an efficient, defensive side who have conceded just once this tournament, while Ghana are a more positive, attacking prospect. The Black Stars will have the whole of Africa behind them but with Asamoah Gyan, who has scored three times, struggling to shake off an ankle knock, my money’s on the South Americans. Quite literally, actually, as they were my sleeper bet at the outset.
Back under 2.5 goals @ 4/9 (General)
Holland v Brazil
A classic encounter but one you suspect will not be as exciting as previous editions. The Samba Boys are a more cautious side these days, as are the Oranje, but their defensive strength is the reason I have backed them to go all the way. Holland have two fine players in Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie but they have had an easier ride of it so far and lack the quality in depth to seriously trouble the Seleção. Expect Brazil to win this one to nil.
Back Brazil to win to nil @ 2/1 (Bwin)Argentina v Germany
Just like at the last World Cup, everyone seems to be tipping Argentina to go all the way – even Calvin – but if there’s a much-trotted out cliché in football it’s, ‘you can never discount the Germans’. The Hun have only scored one less than the free-flowing Argies, who have rattled off ten goals already, and has everyone forgotten that it was Germany who knocked the South Americans out at this same stage four years ago – on penalties? Whichever way this one goes, expect a goalfest.
And if you must know who will win this one, look no further than Paul the Octopus. The eight-legged marine mollusc has so far predicted the correct outcome of each of Germany’s matches to date, including the group defeat to Serbia. So who does Herr Paul’s crystal ball say this time: Deutschland über alles.
Back over 2.5 goals @ 23/20 (Bodog)
Back Germany to qualify @ 13/10 (Bet365)