Day 18 World Cup Free Picks & Preview

We saw a shade of Wembley at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa Sunday morning. Frank Lampard scored what looked like a goal to tie the match between England and Germany at two after Germany had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.

The ball bounced off the crossbar and down, just like in 1966. In 66 the ball didn’t cross the line, but the referee called it a goal. This time the ball clearly crossed the line, but the referee didn’t call it a goal. Germany went on to win 4-1, but the non-goal will overshadow their great performance.

We need a goal judge, video replay or some other goal line technology aka the Chip Ball in soccer. The FIFA has been justifying the refusal of technology with keeping the “human element” in the game. It’s ridiculous.

The “human element” might have ended the hopes of the English players, and they won’t have another chance of playing for the Cup for four years. Some of them won’t be playing anymore. Also, think of all the fans that took time off work and traveled to South Africa to support their team. The “human element” just destroyed their experience.

Argentina benefited from a bad call to take the 1-0 lead against Mexico, when the assistant failed to raise the offside flag. They took control off the match afterward and won 3-1. They will face Germany in the quarterfinals for a rematch of last year’s quarters. Kickoff is Saturday at 10am ET.

The Netherlands and Brazil go into Day 18 as the clear-cut favorites and it would be a major upset if either one of them were to lose.

The Netherlands and Slovakia face off in the opening match of the day. The Oranje have been the best European team so far, and they are entering the knockout stage with a perfect record. They have looked in control, and one of their top players, Arjen Robben, should be back with the team after making sure he could fully recover from his injury.

Slovakia are possibly the weakest team left in the tournament. They surprised with a victory against Italy, but they benefited from the Italian’s weak play. They lost 2-0 against Paraguay and couldn’t get a win against New Zealand.

The three goals they scored against Italy look impressive, but they were largely due to a complete defensive collapse by the Italians. Italy used to be known for their strong defensive teams, but they looked slow and lost out on the pitch all tournament long.

The Dutch have a better defense than the Italians and they will be able to control the match with their strong midfield. They have a high-powered offense and will create lots of problems for the Slovakian side.

Holland are the far superior squad here. They should win this one easily in regulation. If you are with me, go to Pinnacle (-205) or 5Dimes (-207) for the best value.

Brazil should still be considered the best team in the tournament. After a slow start against North Korea, they showed what they can do in their win against the Ivory Coast. Luis Fabiano scored twice and Elano added another goal in a 3-1 victory over the Elephants.

They do have the best collection of players in the tournament, and their defense can be rock solid, if they have their heads in the game. They seemed to take it easy against inferior North Korea, but showed how good they are by shutting down the Ivory Coast’s dangerous attack for most of the game.

Brazil came out strong against Portugal, but the teams seemed to take the foot off the pedal when it became clear that a draw would be enough for both of them to advance. Coach Dunga was furious and wanted his team to keep attacking, but the players took it easy on the pitch.

Chile could have won the group and avoided the matchup with the record world champions, but lost to Spain in their final group game. They put up a great fight and scored a goal despite playing with only 10 men after Marco Estrada got his second booking in the 37th minute.

Brazil, however, is the better team and has a better defense than Spain. I think Chile will try hard and create some chances. However, their offense time will open up space for Brazil to start their attack and the five-time champions will come out on top. Go to 5Dimes for a -173 line on Brazil.

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