Our Military World Cup really gets down to business now as we rumble into the knock-out stages. If you haven't been following this series of blogs (shame on you!) , or want a little bit of a refresher - here is a list for all of the group matches:

Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
Group E
Group F
Group G
Group H

Match 1 (Winners of Group A vs Runners up in Group B)

France vs Greece

This really probably doesn't rank as the pick of the games in this round - as two creaking, aging military forces come face to face with each other. Both teams really only squeaked through to this round thanks to their long past glory days. Sure at times the Greeks and the French were the most powerful and awe-inspiring military forces in the world, but it is a long time since anyone took a hoplite seriously. And the Napoleonic wars didn't really go to plan for the French. Both countries didn't exactly cover themselves in glory during the Second World War - although the Greeks did defeat the Italians, forcing Mussolini to ask his German mates to lend a hand. Admittedly beating the Italians doesn't really count for much, but the delay that the Greek campaign dealt to the German plans to invade Russia meant that the Germans (like the French before them) discovered that waging war in 4 foot deep snow drifts is not the best way to run a campaign.

 Even once the Greek mainland was taken the Greeks continued fighting - and inflicted one of the most costly victories on the Germans? That's right, although the Germans were victorious in Crete, the overall campaign was very costly and made the Germans distrustful of airborne operations, while the ongoing resistance effort remained a troubling thorn in the side of the Germans throughout the remainder of the war.

As for France, well their recent military record remains a shambles, at the minute their special forces seem to be embroiled in an ongoing battle with Somali pirates, with mixed results. Ultimately though it looks as if this is one game too many for this battle scarred nation. An unenviable record continues.

Recommended Reading
CAM 147 Crete 1941
MAA 142 Partisan Warfare

The Winners: After just slipping through as runners-up from their Group, the Greeks pull off a bit of a surprise, by knocking out the French. Their rich military history and the exploits of Alexander negate the threat posed by Napoleon, and their more impressive showing against the Nazis gives the Greeks the edge that they need to sneak through, sending the French home in disgrace.

Match 2 (Winner of Group C vs Runner-up Group D)

England vs Germany

Wow - how good am I coming up with this prediction? Admittedly I got the actual positions reversed - but I am still rather pleased with myself.

Ah... the Germans and the English - they really don't seem to be able to leave each other alone. The scent of a Union Jack seems to just get the Germans riled up, while the mere mention of sausages and German beer gets the English salivating...umm, I mean itching for a fight. The English seem to spend their summers spouting on about 'Two World Wars, One World Cup', but conveniently seem to forget that the Germans have won the World Cup three times - with only half their country! Three wins without the Eastern half of the country is not a bad achievement really - although a re-unified Germany is yet to add to this haul.

Militarily, it really is a game of two halves. The Germans are apt to start really well in these match ups. A swift advance, a sucker punch or two and before you know it the English are hiding behind the Channel, staring defeat in the face. Cue rousing speeches from Churchill and the 'Dunkirk' spirit of the English. Dogged determination, plus a little help from their friends (Canada, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand etc) and before you know it the English are back in it, plucky pilots shooting across the skies and hauling the score back to an uneasy stalemate.

Having been stuck in an uneasy stalemate the English, having exhausted their own colonies, tend to have to turn to one of their former colonies for help. It's all very well complaining that the Americans are overpaid, oversexed and over here - but without their support England probably wouldn't have progressed out of their group - and D-Day would have quite possibly ended differently. And of course the Soviets played their part in the ultimate victory.

Recommended Reading
Battle of Britain
Raid 11 Pegasus Bridge
Raid 13 The Bruneval Raid

The Winners
Two wins out of two World Wars (albeit with a lot of help) just can't be argued with as England go through to the quarter finals. Nothing to do with the ref drawing England in the office sweep. Unfortunately though, this does mean another match where we are forced to listen to a crazed trumpeter playing through his extensive three song repertoire - The Great Escape, into God Save the Queen and straight into Rule Britannia. Sigh.