Not that I picked them but still, what a story. They finally gave up a goal but to come through that group unbeaten and only finish second to Brazil on goal differential is quite an accomplishment. I really like their chances against the Netherlands. Both teams are defending really well and while the Dutch have better scorers I think Ochoa is a big step up from Cilleson or whatever Holland’s keeper is called. Should be exciting.

As for the much-anticipated Chile-Netherlands showdown, credit to the Dutch for coming through again in what could very well have been mistaken for an Olympic event (the 90 minute dive competition). The Chileans tried to keep up but in the end nobody dives as well as Robben. It drives me completely crazy yet I can’t help but admire his ability to know exactly when he is better off fighting through several legitimate leg hacks to create a scoring chance and when the moment calls for soaring to the ground like a particularly theatrical pigeon succumbing to a slingshot attack. What I don’t admire are referees who still can’t tell the difference. You are a referee in the World Cup. The World Cup! Take a couple hours and watch a bit of tape ahead of time, how’s that sound?

Other than that, Brazil dismantled Cameroon as expected (oh my, a genuine Fred sighting!) and Spain salvaged some pride by trouncing Australia with a throwback front line of Torres and Villa. Damn, where was that team before they had the mighty Diego Costa? Oh, that’s right, winning. Interesting.

Still, too little, too late. Hasta luego, Spain. And while we’re at it – cheers, Australia – au revoir, Cameroon – odjebi, Croatia. The first round of cuts are over and Brad Bird has taken the most commanding lead of the draft to this point. Although since most of his team is now done until the round of 16 I expect things will tighten right back up. And kudos to Ang Walters for moving out of sole last place into a tie for last place. Very generous of you, Art.

Standings (Jun 23)


Peralta somersault