It has been four weeks since Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the kickoff match to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. We have seen major upsets from Chile, Costa Rica, Algeria, and the Netherlands and watched the defending champions, Spain, become eliminated during the group stages. The United States believed in victory up until that final whistle in extra time losing to Belgium, and Germany triumphed to knock out the home team, Brasil, in a landslide 7-1 victory.
The New York Times says, “this 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the World Cup semifinal shocked Brazilian fans to tears, demoralized Brazilian players on the field and amazed a worldwide audience with alert, precise and engaging team play.” It was an epic and historic match-up that ended Brazil’s home win streak and was the largest margin of defeat in a semi-final game in World Cup history.
German striker Miroslav Klose claimed the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer record after he stabbed home his 16th goal against the Brazilians in the 23rd minute, eclipsing the former record holder and Brazil’s megastar striker Ronaldo. Toni Kroos strengthened his position in fractious contract negotiations with FC Bayern Munich turning in a string first world class performances to emphasize his value for club and country. German captain, Phillip Lahm, played well in the midfield and defense. He was a model of leadership and consistent excellence on the field. He lead the way for his team to pour one mercy goal after another.
Netherlands fought their way into the semi-finals only to lose to Argentina 4-2 in penalty kicks. The game was a defensive battle between the two teams with zero goals scored through 30 minutes of extra time. It was the second straight penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw for Netherlands and after winning their first one, the Dutch, who has never won the World Cup, was seeking to reach its fourth finals appearance. Louis Van Gaal brought on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul in the last seconds of extra time to replace Jasper Cillessen and Krul saved two spot kicks in the quarterfinals against Costa Rica. Unfortunately, this time Van Gaal had already used up all three substitutions by the end the 120th minute in a long, hard fought match and Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen had to face the shootout.
The Dutch soccer team manager, Van Gaal, said
“The issue in a championship like this one is that you score one more goal than your opponent, which we didn’t do. We didn’t create very much.”
Right away, I thought the Netherlands made a silly mistake sending center back Ron Vlaar to take the first penalty kick but apparently he wasn’t their first choice. Van Gaal, who takes over at Manchester United next week, appeared to suggest that two players refused to take kicks but wouldn’t elaborate. He said:
“You need to score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar. I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence. It just goes to show it’s not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out.”
The Argentinian goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, made a big first play and his diving save was a huge momentum swinger for Argentina to take their first attempt at a penalty kick. Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez all converted their spot kicks to advance Argentina through to the finals.
The victors in three World Cups and finalists four other times, Germany rarely needs a renewal. Germany is almost always there and will most likely be seen by many as the favorites to win again but it doesn’t mean they will automatically win the final against Argentina on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. We will witness a brilliant finals match-up displayed with Argentine passion against German precision.
Germany would need to have another strong defensive stance against the aggressive attacking German strikers, Klose and Mesut Özil. Perhaps with a quick goal from Messi will be enough for Argentina to take home the cup, but I highly doubt it. The German will keep high pressure throughout the game and the match will intense and played up until that 90th minute whistle. “A Germany-Argentina final means an extra bitter end to the tournament for Brazilians, who will have to watch their fiercest rivals play for the world title in their most hallowed stadium against a team that humiliated their nation in the semifinals.”