The Law of Reflection tells us that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. Granted, this rule of physics deals with rays of lights reflecting off of normal surfaces, but a few degrees of reflection is all that saved Brazil from an early and embarrassing exit from the World Cup. Twice the Seleção were rescued by the immutable laws of physics, first as Mauricio Pinilla's 120th minute attempt on goal caromed off the cross bar, and the once more when Gonzalo Jarra's penalty attempt, Chile's fifth and final chance to level the shootout, hit the right post, skirting across the goal line before sailing harmlessly wide of the left post. However, if you watch it again, notice how it crosses the end line just past the left post; in other words, had the ball struck the right post at a slightly more acute angle, it would have just snuck inside the post and beaten Julio Cesar.
So, will today's matches come down to a matter of degrees and centimeters?
Netherland vs Mexico: Noon (EDT), Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Holland, thanks to epic performances from Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, emerged from the group stages as perhaps the favorites to take home the Jules Rimet trophy. The Netherlands stormed through Group B and looked damn near unbeatable in the process, scoring a tournament high 10 goals and maintaining a +7 goal differential.
Mexico, meanwhile, owes their advancement to Guillermo Ochoa and a stout backline, which only conceded one goal through three group play matches. Of course, they only scored four goals, so their margin for error is razor thin.
The odds would seem to favor Holland, but we've certainly seen many nations ride a tide of excellent goalkeeping to World Cup glory, so one never knows.
Costa Rica vs Greece: 4pm (EDT), Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Who among us would have imagined that Vasilis Torosidis would be the only Roma player to survive the group stages? (Forgot about Maicon, and apparently so has Scolari) Greece finished a distant second to Colombia in Group C, five points back, and were the only nation to advance to the knockout stages with a negative goal differential. Nevertheless, surviving the war of attrition in Group C should give them some momentum heading into this match. For his part, Torosidis hasn't been quite as sharp as we saw for Roma, but he was good enough to play all 270 minutes in group play.
The Ticos were the surprise winners of Group D, beating out Uruguay, Italy and England for top honors. Costa Rica, much like Greece, has survived by mitigating errors and relying on the counter attack, so this match might simply come down to which nation blinks first.
Where to Watch
ESPN has both matches for those of you in the EE.UU, CBC has the great white north covered, SKY Mexico will carry the match in, you guessed it, Mexico, while SLGO has our Zambian brothers and sisters taken care of.