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There’s been some pleasant storylines so far this World Cup, but perhaps the play and success of both Uruguay and Ghana tops the list. As the group stage concluded, most wanted to cynically look at the crash and burn of world notables France and Italy. However, it is instead time to praise the likes of those who have achieved in South Africa this summer.
South American countries have looked very impressive at this tournament thus far. Brazil and Argentina have lived up to their prestige and are rightfully the favorites going forward. Both Chile and Paraguay were able to advance out of their respective groups, but the country that won the first ever World Cup tournament in 1930 is the one with the most intrigue behind it.
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Before a ball was kicked, Uruguay needed star Diego Forlan to deliver like he did to wrap up his club season for Atletico Madrid in Spain in order for this side to advance out of Group A and proceed further into this event. It’s safe to say he has been brilliant. So far Forlan is the player of the tournament, and along with fellow striker Luis Suarez, Uruguay are peaking at just the right moment heading into their final eight clash with Ghana.
But let’s not forget about Africa’s last hope, the Ghanaians. Prior to the first World Cup ever on African soil, so much hype and added pressure was placed on the six countries representing people all across the continent. Hosts South Africa put up a good fight but were never skilled enough to actually live up to supporters’ dreams, and ultimately became the first host nation not to advance beyond the group phase. Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria couldn’t put much together and were busts. The Ivory Coast was the pre-tournament sleeper and arguably the most talented African nation being tipped to make a run to the semifinals or even further. But an unlucky break by being stuck into the World Cup Group of Death alongside Brazil and Portugal was too much to cope with. Speaking of break, star forward Didier Drogba suffered a broken arm just weeks before the tournament and understandably wasn’t at his best, which also was a huge detriment to the team’s progressing hopes.
Ghana, now, is on everyone’s mind in Africa. What about these Black Stars? Just think about this: Michael Essien, the team’s best player and definitively one of the world’s 10 best players, was injured and out all this past club season for Chelsea and never was in line to play this summer. Sulley Muntari, another one of his country’s most talented players, hasn’t been able to crack the starting line-up. Despite winning the Champions League with Inter Milan this past season, head coach Milovan Rajevac’s side went for a youth overhaul, as he called up a number of players from the country’s U-20 World Cup winning team from 2009. These young guns carried Ghana’s senior team through qualifying and the coach stuck with this side for the Finals. Those like Asamoah Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah, Jonathan Mensah and Prince Tagoe are all full of exuberance and ambition. None of them are over 25, and even if they don’t possess the greatest amount of international experience, their skill, team play, and most notably pride, have taken over. And then again, how far did experience get France, Italy and England this tournament?
Results thus far suggest this might be Ghana’s destiny, continuing to play for something much bigger than just their own good – for fans, their country and an entire Africa. After the hosts exited, everyone rallied around the Black Stars. The fan-favorite, underdog storyline vibes almost replicate this past spring when Butler rallied all the way to the NCAA Tournament Championship to play powerhouse Duke.
But how will Ghana cope against fellow dark horse Uruguay, especially considering a number of its key contributors are unable to partake in this match? The aforementioned Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah, both starters, are suspended for this matchup because of yellow cards they earned in the match vs. the United States. Even more so, Derek-Prince Boateng, scorer of the opener goal in that victory, is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Maybe now this is the time we see several of Ghana’s veterans, like a Muntari or Stephen Appiah (captain of Ghana’s 2006 World Cup team) rise up and mix with its youngsters to take their country to a place no other African side has ever been in the World Cup: the semifinals.
Uruguay vs. Ghana World Cup Odds:
Bodog currently has Uruguay listed as the price of +100. They list Ghana at +285 and the ‘Draw’ is currently available at +220.
Sports Interaction has Uruguay at +100 and Ghana at +265. The ‘Draw’ here is posted at +210.
Uruguay vs. Ghana Picks and Predictions:
Uruguay wins if: they continue with their winning formula: allow Diego Forlan to carry the load and take over the match. His presence alone has allowed Luis Suarez to come into his own the last couple of contests (three goals in two matches). If this prolific duo continue to produce like they have, Uruguay will be extremely difficult to eliminate.
Ghana wins if: this team continues to embrace the love all of Africa is sending them. It is obvious the good vibes and importance of what Ghana is doing, and it’s translating on the pitch in the form of good results. Ghana is fortunate to be on the easier side of the draw, but there are no easy outs in the knockout rounds, so can Cinderella keep the ball going?
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