Friday, 11 July 2014

WC 2014 SEMIS MATCH REPORT: Holland vs Argentina -

In the second and last of the World Cup semi-finals being played, Holland were up against Argentina, with the winner up against Germany in the final of the tournament on Sunday.

After a truly shocking and breathtaking display yesterday in what can only be described as a post-mortem event afterwards in the match between Germany and Brazil, the Germans breezed past their opponents in comfortable fashion and were able to take advantage of the defensive weaknesses to thrash them 7-1. Yes, you read that last sentence right, 7 goals to 1.

You STILL don't believe me? Okay, look: 

Destruction: Germany were dominant throughout the match and exposed the frail Brazil team
So there was obviously going to be a surreal atmosphere inside the ground before kick-off on Wednesday night, both teams knew they needed to be at the top of their game to ensure that they were not exploited just like Brazil were the night before.

At half-time, the score was still 0-0, with limited goal-scoring chances for both teams. Messi had a low free-kick drive from 20 yards out caught by Cillessen, and Garay had a free header whipped over the bar. 

Notable performers in the first 45: Messi, Vlaar, de Vrij and Cillessen.

Both teams were understandably tentative and had defensive-minded tactics going into the match; and it resulted in a dull spectacle to watch - but it was obviously going to be interesting to see which side could take the lead in the second period, if at all.

The second-half was almost a carbon copy of the first, but with a slight twist. Both sides were going for it, seeing as they wanted to win the match and avoid the possibility of extra time and even penalties. 

Despite three substitutions and a few silly tackles and challenges, the score remained goal-less; both sides were going for it but lacked the clinical touch.

And then extra-time was upon us. And then it went. No change, still 0-0. A tense finale followed, as it was time for the penalty shoot-out to decide who would face Germany in Sunday's final.

No bold change by new United manager van Gaal this time, as he gave Cillessen his chance to shine from the spot-kicks, as Tim Krul watched on.

And in the end, this is how it ended (LIVE reactions to the spot-kicks being taken)
  • SAVED! 0-0. Good diving block by Romero to stop the weak placement by Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, who arguably shouldn't have taken the penalty in the first place.
  • GOAL! 1-0 to Argentina. Cool, calm and collected from Barcelona forward and captain Lionel Messi, sends Cillessen the wrong way and slots into the corner.
  • GOAL! 1-1. Bayern winger Arjen Robben equalises in the shootout with another good strike, Romero dived the wrong way.
  • GOAL! 2-1 to Argentina. What a power strike! Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay with a thunderbolt into the net, and Argentina are back in front!
  • SAVED! Argentina now have an advantage! Romero guesses right and dives to his right to stop Sneijder's well placed effort, which was definitely goal-bound. Solid save.
  • GOAL! 3-1 to Argentina. Aguero with a low drive into the back of the net out of Cillessen's reach despite guessing the right way. Game over?
  • GOAL! Holland pull one back! 3-2. Match point to the Argentinians, but Kuyt slots his penalty calmly into the bottom corner of the net. They score now, they've won.
  • Maxi Rodriguez finishes off the clinical shootout with a power strike, Cillessen parries but the ball bounces off the crossbar into the net.

And so now it's CONFIRMED:

Germany vs Argentina - World Cup final on Sunday
Brazil vs Holland - 3rd vs 4th place play-off on Saturday

VERDICT: I'm glad to see that Argentina and Messi will be in the World Cup final, perhaps Messi can finally silence the doubters that he is the best ever - criticism in the past saying you can not be the best if you don't win the World Cup, here is his chance!

But also - Germany. They have been both dominant and nervy at times throughout the tournament, and they have a lot of quality and strength in depth in terms of tactical options, which will culminate for a great final surely?!

It's the final I predicted when I saw the Last 16 fixtures! Should be a very good game aswell, painful for Holland - they were unlucky but could not finish their chances in the end and it backfired on them. 

But to be fair, the 90 minutes of football was fairly dull, barely any real clear-cut chances for either side.

As soon as extra-time was announced, I expected the match to be decided on penalties. No other way.

On the other hand for Holland, despite being a good team, they have rode their luck to even be in the semi-finals. Remember Mexico and Costa Rica?

Holland: Runners-up in 2010, now fighting for 3rd place in 2014. 

Romero was the hero for Argentina, Messi was a bright spark throughout and Mascherano was the unsung hero.

FACT: Messi completed 10 dribbles throughout the match, which was 6 more than any other player in the game (Robben had 4). 

Can't wait for the conclusion to an enthralling tournament.

Through to the final! Argentina have done it the hard way, on penalties.