Germany will be too strong for Algeria. Glenn Hoddle
TONIGHT: GERMANY V. ALGERIA
Algeria will be seeking revenge for the way West Germany and Austria played out a game to ensure they both qualified and that Algeria were eliminated in 1982, in one of the most infamous matches in World Cup history.
But it’s only human nature and while the whole episode has been quite rightly condemned, I was asked whether I had ever been involved in something similar - and I had.
Southampton were going up as champions but Spurs needed one point for promotion in the last game of the season.
We were drawing 0-0 with 15 minutes to go and no one from that moment got in front of the ball, everyone was behind the ball.
Southampton had already got what they needed and we got what we wanted.
Of course as a consequence of what happened between West Germany and Austria, the rules were changed so that all the group games were played at the same time to avoid such a stand-off to suit both teams.
Tonight, though, I see nothing but a German win.
ARGENTINA V. SWITZERLAND
I tipped Argentina before the tournament. Sergio Aguero is injured at the moment, but Lionel Messi is carrying the team, very much in the way that Brazil need Neymar to carry them through.
Messi needs to win this tournament to elevate his ranking above Diego Maradona. The Maradona magic won the World Cup in ‘86 and I see similarities here.
I would love to see Maradona playing in this era, with perfect pitches instead of long grass rutted underneath, and the new rules that protect the attacking players - he would be unstoppable. Well, he was virtually unstoppable in any case!
Argentina had a little genius in my time and they have a little genius now.
Wasn’t that impressed when ITV found the footage of me standing in front of Diego as the move developed for his infamous Hand of God goal though!
I am sure my ITV ‘team-mate Fabio Cannavaro would have made sure he wouldn’t have got past him, but I didn’t have enough Italian blood to kick him. Looking back I should have kicked him as that was the worst feeling I have ever experienced on a football pitch.
Some of our players didn’t see the handball, but I did and you can see in the footage I’ve come running up to the referee to protest along with Peter Shilton. It was a sickening feeling, such an injustice
As you would expect I got plenty of stick about how I could have changed the source of history if I had managed to tackle him. As if anyone could tackle Diego when he was in that mood!
Now Messi is doing the same job for Argentina, carrying the team, and if those around him can improve then I think they have every chance of winning out here in Brazil.
Messi’s been exceptional. My word he has changed the game, and the way he put two goals together in his last game showed that he can drive Argentina over the line.
It was evident that when Messi came off after 62 minutes in their last game against Mexico Argentina looked a very ordinary side. His free kick goal was outstanding, to get the ball up and then down with such pace was a wonderful skill.
Di Maria looked sharp with a good first touch, and all good players follow in as Messi scored his first after three minutes, and you could see the emotions we so high, he wants it badly, and I have always felt that he has been looking over his should at this World Cup for some time, which might have been the reason he hit a sluggish run of form for Barcelona.
Again, like Brazil, they have deficiencies in defence, but it is the Messi magic that is masking those so far. It was too easy for Nigeria to get at their back four, and set pieces might prove their down fall.
Argentina have gone up one gear though, but they need to go up three or four gears, and if anything happened to Messi they would be so ordinary as to have little chance of progressing to the Final. They’ll have too much for the Swiss…
FRANCE V. NIGERIA
I have absolutely no idea how Nigeria ended up in the round of 16, and I certainly haven’t seen enough evidence that they can topple France.
The African nation I thought would make a big impact in this World Cup was Ivory Coast. But they were making mistakes you were more used to seeing from African teams back in the 70s. Right at the end of the game where they could have got through their group Yaya Toure was going for goal, and for someone of his vast experience that really surprised me when he should have gone to the corner flag to play out time, but the excitement got to him. He should have known better.
It reminded me of the time that David Ginola was savaged for trying to go for goal with a cross right at the end of a game, when he should have held the ball in the corner, and it ended up with the opposition scoring and France going out of the tournament.
If I wasn’t here in Rio, I would be following Wimbledon and Andy Murray’s defence of his title. I love tennis. If I hadn’t taken up football, I might have been tempted to try my hand as a tennis professional.
I had the chance to choose tennis when I was 15, playing for Essex, and I was encouraged to go down that route.
But it was football, football, football for me. Yet, maybe if I hadn’t made the grade at football, I would have taken up tennis.
I know how much Andy loves his football. Wonder if I’m a better tennis player than he is a footballer?