'Tim Howard for President', as best World Cup delivers again

Jul 2, 2014

World Cup whispers: Howard's heroics, Europe back in the game, Neymar fitness fears

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A career in politics awaits Tim Howard after his astonishing performance in Salvador took US to the brink of glory in their last-16 clash with Belgium and prompted a Twitter campaing to make him President. Howard withstood an attacking onslaught from Belgium for over an hour and a half, fending off shot after shot and setting a new record for the number of saves in a single World Cup game: 16. By the end of extra time he’d earned a new nickname – “the Human Wall” – while tributes to his performance, led by ABC's Good Morning America, flooded in from around the world.


A narrow 2-1 win over the USA made Belgium the eighth group winners to make it through to the quarter-finals at this year’s World Cup. It’s the first time in tournament history there hasn’t been an upset in the last 16 and all eight of the group frontrunners have made it through. The pick of the quarter-finals will see France take-on Germany at the Maracana, while hosts Brazil face a tough test in Fortaleza against Columbia. On the other side of the draw Holland take-on Costa Rica, while Argentina play Belgium.


After being comprehensively outplayed by American sides in the opening days of the tournament Europe's pride has been restored after four teams made it through to the last eight. No European team has ever won the tournament in America, but the last eight includes four teams from each side of the Atlantic. Each continent is guaranteed at least one semi finalist, and two of the quarter finals pit New World against Old.


Brazil's quarter-final clash with Colombia is being billed as the game of the tournament so far, but will Brazil's star man Neymar be able to take part? He picked up knocks to his knee and thigh itook part in a swimming session with other members of the squad this week. However he has also been sporting strapping on his right knee and had a noticeable hobble as he got off the team coach on Tuesday.


With a breather until the quarter-finals this weekend there is time to reflect on a thrilling tournament. Already there have been more goals than the 2010 event in South Africa managed and there are still eight games to go. So far James Rodriguez is winning most goal of the tournament polls while every day appears to throw up a new contender for game of the tournament. For Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph, and no doubt many others, Brazil is the "most magnificent" tournament he has witnessed.

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