Into the quarters and there's some cracking ties. There's no room for error and a split sauce could be the difference between booking a semi-final spot and taking a flight home.
France 3 England 1
Oh come on now, you didn't think that we would win this one? We may talk a good game in this country but for the French, food is part of the fabric of life in a way that we can only aspire to. It took all kinds of manipulation on my part to get England this far but in the end, les coqs go through.
It was an ultra professional performance with the likes of foie gras, confit, and andouillette proving too uncomfortable for the English. In fact all over the pitch, the English were made to feel second best and slightly inadequate.
For example, poor old apple crumble just seemed out of its depth when put up against tarte fine aux pommes. The only player that stood tall against the French was black pudding from Lancashire, who showed boudin noir a thing or two.
Japan 4 Portugal 1
Both teams rely on the sea and it's more than a bit ironic that it was the Portuguese that introduced tempura to Japan. But there's only so far dainty pastel de nata and my love of Nando's can take a team. In the final reckoning, the Portuguese were mauled by the superior Japanese.
However it was the noodles rather than the sea that saw the Japanese to victory. As the game wore on, Portugal found itself tangled up in ramen, udon, and soba. The only area in which the European team prevailed was their famed baking skills from which they nicked a consolation goal.
S.Korea 1 Australia 2
There was a large part of me that wanted Korea to win but I've got to be true to myself, I like Aussie food – despite their penchant for beetroot. Don't think I've gone all soft though, I still dislike Aussie sports teams. Joking aside, some of the best food I've eaten has been down under and I do like the Aussie people (with the exception of Ricky Ponting).
Brilliant seafood, juicy steaks, as well as arguably the best East Asian food outside of the region itself epitomise the excellence of the lucky country. Whether the Aussies would've prevailed against other Asian cuisines is doubtful. The thing is whilst I like Korean food, I think its far from the best that Asia can offer. You can blame that on the kimchi.
Italy 2 Spain 2 (Spain win 5-4 on penalties)
These two countries hate one another when it comes to footy. The Italians think the Spanish lack bottle. On the other hand, the Spanish think the Italians are overly negative. This rivalry extends across to food and these Mediterranean titans serve up the best game of the tournament so far.
This was a belter with some fascinating battles such as parma ham v jamon serrano, salami v chorizo, risotto v paella etc. Now you might think that my love for the noodle would give the pasta boys the edge but there's more to food than noodles.
In the end, the first penalty shoot-out of the tournament settled this tie. The last Italian penalty sees risotto step up and shoot wide. Could paella hold its nerve and score – yes it could and Spain sneak through to the semis.
Next TimeThose of you who are getting heartily sick of my World Cup posts will be pleased to hear that the tournament concludes next Friday. The semis are France v Japan and Spain v Australia so we're in for a great final, no matter who qualifies.