Four teams advanced, four teams have been eliminated. Today is the day, to paraphrase the greatest movie that's ever existed, "Stuff just got real." Here are the things that we learned today...
Argentina are really, really good.
Like, really, really, really good. Even with Lionel Messi* and the C-team, Argentina had enough quality to see off the Greeks. Thank Pele for this, by the way. For two reasons. First, the victory means that the Greek way (six defenders, really?) isn't going to hack it at this stage. Second, it means we get to see more Diego Maradona. And, with all apologies to the Dos Equis guy, Diego Maradona is the most interesting man in the world. He wears two watches! He fondles rosary beads! He kisses his players before the game! He juggles the ball in dress shoes! He jumps into the arms of his assistants to celebrate a goal! He wears two watches!
*Bill Simmons said it best when he tweeted: "After watching Messi this year on Barca now in the WC, I'm convinced he's better at soccer than any U.S. pro athlete is at anything."
Kei Kamara is off the hook.
Missing from six inches in an early-season MLS game is one thing. Missing from 2 feet in a game that means advancing to the next round of the knockout stage or going home empty handed is a completely different matter. But that's exactly what happened to Nigeria's Yakubu today. I feel bad (really bad) for the guy. Really, there's not even any schadenfreude to be had here. It's just plain not fun to watch.
You can lose even when you win, but you can never win if you're a bunch of losers.
I'm sure that everyone who doesn't own a beret was rooting for South Africa today. It was a very bittersweet victory for them, as they become the first host country to not advance past the group stages. But, they beat France 2-1 (and it should've been 4-1 at least) and we don't have to see France and their ridiculous implosions anymore. South Africa can take a lot of pride out of a 1-1-1 showing considering that they likely wouldn't have made the tournament if they weren't the hosts. They were fun to watch and, with the exception of the vuvuzelas, have been fantastic hosts thus far.
There will be probably be only one African team in the knockout stage... and this depresses me.
Poor Ghana. The hopes of an entire continent rest on them beating the Germans (or tying and hoping Serbia lose or tie with Australia). These are the same Germans that have qualified for the knockout stage of every World Cup since before Elizabeth Taylor was born. (Rough estimation.) The only other African team left is the Ivory Coast, and it needs something like 15 goals to overcome the massive goal differential with Portugal.
Raymond Domenech doesn't shake hands!
Honorable mention: Uruguay might actually be pretty good. ... This just in: Blanco is a faker! ... People love to Google "Paraguay cell-phone girl" (which is the only explanation I can muster as to why a SOCCER STORY was actually amongst the most-read stories on KansasCity.com yesterday!) ... South Korea is a strange team. ... The Mexican crowds are just about the only vuvuzela-proof crowd. You could clearly hear them over the dull buzz. ... All of us will miss saying "Siphiwe Tshabalala."