The cruel and bitter mistress of soccer has disappointed her American fans yet again after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the hands of Belgium, but that doesn’t mean the tournament is over. On the contrary, the best games are yet to be played with powerhouses like Brazil, France, Germany, and the Netherlands still in the hunt.
So now you’ll need a new team to root for. We offer a few reasons for each and will let you decide which nation you’d like to see hoist the World Cup next weekend.
After overcoming the soccer giants of Italy, England, and Uruguay, Los Ticos became the Cinderella story of the tournament. Now the lowest ranked team left at No. 28, Costa Rica will look to shock the world in their first ever trip to the quarterfinals.
Why to Root: You like an underdog.
Even though the men in Orange are the team to beat in Brazil after dismantling a Spanish team that beat them in the 2010 Finals, there’s still plenty of seats available on the Dutch bandwagon. This will be the last chance at a win for superstars Robin van-Persie and Arjen Robben, who are both 30-years-old.
Why to Root: You think the Dutch finally deserve a win.
The 1998 champs have rebounded well following a disastrous 2010, when they lost all three group stage games and boycotted training sessions after their coach dismissed star striker Nicholas Anelka. Their offensive attack looked unstoppable against Nigeria in the round of 16, and they can continue to gain momentum with a strong win over Germany.
Why to Root: You’re French. That’s about it.
Ze Germans have gotten off to slow starts in their last three games after the beatdown they laid on Portugal. Now it’s time to prove they’re the best in the World. Miroslav Klose is also one goal away from becoming the all time World Cup scoring leader, but he knows that record means nothing without a trophy.
Why to Root: You believe that, after making the semis in the last three World Cup tournaments, it’s time Klose and the boys finally win this thing.
Anything less than ultimate victory will be a catastrophe for a country that once referred its 1950 World Cup Finals loss to Uruguay – the last time Brazil hosted the tournament – as “Our Hiroshima.” Protests over Brazil’s reckless spending in preparation for the event only add to the pressure placed on Neymar, one of soccer’s brightest young stars.
Why to Root: You root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win it’s a shame. And you want to see Neymar join the ranks of Brazil’s greats.
The Los Cafeteros’s defense has basically shut the door on opponents in Colombia’s first World Cup since 1998, allowing only two goals in their first four games. Not to be outdone, the offense, led by budding 22-year-old star James Rodriguez, has scored 11, and will try to keep it going against the home team.
Why to Root: You like when defense wins championships. And you think Rodriguez’s turnaround goal against Uruguay was the best of the World Cup.
Lionel Messi is the man of the tournament so far, netting four goals and scoring and assisting on stoppage time winners against Iran the Swiss respectively. But if he ever wants to join the ranks of Pele and Maradona, he’ll need a win in the final game. With a real team finally assembled around him, this is his best shot.
Why to Root: You want Messi to finally get his due at the World Cup.
With an average age under 26, the Belgians will have another World Cup cycle to improve their skills. But why wait? The tournament Dark Horse is undefeated, and if not for Tim Howard, would have scored a dozen goals on the U.S. A win against Messi’s team could give them enough confidence to win it all.
Why to Root: You think any team that ousts the U.S. deserves to win it all.