Well, considering I did it with the bloodbath that was Brazil-Germany, I figured I would try the same for the World Cup’s other semifinal match, the Netherlands vs. Argentina.
Oranje was looking to make back-to-back trips to the World Cup Finals for the first time since they accomplished the feat in 1974 and 1978. Armed with names like Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie, they had a great chance to do it against an Argentinian squad headed by whom many consider one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi. A Finals appearance for La Albiceleste would be the salt in the wound for Brazilian futbol fans everywhere, as well as their first since 1990.
Allow yourself to look into my thoughts, in realtime, of the second semifinal match of the World Cup:
12:35 PM (PST): The Argentinians look like they’re out in droves. Considering their South American rivals, Brazil, are out of the World Cup, I guess I’d be celebrating, too.
12:37 PM: I’ve been reading a lot about how happy “the rest of the world” is for Germany having shuffled Brazil off the World Cup coil. This was surprising to me – I just assumed a Futbol country like Brazil was, at least, tolerated. But hated? I guess I really wasn’t paying attention.
12:39 PM: I’m honestly curious about this – how much WOULD the people of Brazil hate the idea of Argentina advancing to the World Cup final? I keep hearing (at least from the ESPN analysts) that it would compound their worst nightmares. Perhaps this would essentially be like watching, say, the Seahawks win as a 49ers fan?
12:46 PM: Wow. Look at all that sky blue.
12:52 PM: Blood orange and sky blue – it’s definitely pleasing to the eye.
12:54 PM: I’m still trying to pin down who Arjen Robben of the Netherlands reminds me of … that big game hunter from “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”? Patrick Stewart? I dunno.
12:55 PM: Wow. I’m shocked that there are still bits of yellow and the occasional Brazilian flag in the crowd. After the beating they took yesterday, it’s refreshing to see some fans still around.
12:56 PM: An Argentinian fan wearing a Pope mask? Oh, that’s hilarious.
12:57 PM: You really have to wonder what Messi is gonna have to do in order to counteract whatever Oranje does on offense today.
12:58 PM: Hmm. Not as packed here as it was yesterday. Guess there aren’t as many Argentina fans in Davis as there were Brazil fans.
1:00 PM: All the more fitting if Argentina advances to the final and fulfill their “manifest destiny” on their Independence Day.
1:01 PM: And we’re off. Hope it’s not a blowout like yesterday. *wink wink
1:03 PM: So far, nothing too spectacular – a couple blown chances by both teams, but that comes to be expected when the teams are feeling each other out.
1:05 PM: La Albiceleste looks like they are playing very slow, very methodical – I mean, I’m only guessing. You’re not talking to a real futbol expert, here.
1:08 PM: This was honestly the pace I was expecting yesterday.
1:09 PM: Argentina’s sure making a way through that Netherlands defense.
1:11 PM: Good to see Cillessen back in goal. Not that he was doubted during that PK session, of course.
1:13 PM: I feel like these two teams are playing to a stalemate so far. Robben had a good shot there, but not much of a threat to score.
1:14 PM: Trip leads to a free kick by Argentina … taking awhile to set up.
1:15 PM: Great shot by Messi. Great save by Cillessen.
1:17 PM: You know, I keep going back to what happened to Brazil yesterday. Honestly, it’s completely unfair for the sport of futbol that that happened – it almost takes away from the prospects of low-scoring games. I mean, methodical games like this one has been so far will likely be criticized as “boring” or what have you – but this is what the game usually is – taking advantage of the rare chances teams are given to score. Yesterday was a complete anomaly.
1:21 PM: Case in point – we’ve reached the 20th minute of the match, and there’s still no score. I believe Germany was up 3-0 at this point of the match yesterday.
1:23 PM: It’s tough for either team to really create good scoring chances for themselves. A corner kick is upcoming for Argentina, though, so …
1:24 PM: Argentinian header from the corner kick goes high. Four players collide in the process.
1:25 PM: Argentinian player trying to get greedy on Cillessen. Cillessen appropriately faked him out. That was pretty brilliant.
1:27 PM: We got a man down on the Argentinian side. And it looks serious – heads collide going after the ball, and Javier Mascherano goes down. My dad has argued in the past that futbol players need helmets. I am inclined to agree after incidents like that. He could have a concussion.
1:30 PM: Mascherano’s back on the field. Is he okay? You don’t know, just because futbol players always insist they’re fine.
1:30 PM: How was that foul on Van Persie?
1:32 PM: 31 minutes in, and neither team has broken through – that was a close one, though.
1:37 PM: Credit to both defenses for putting a clamp on anything that resembles a scoring chance on either side.
1:39 PM: That kind of looked like an American football tackle on Messi. Well, not really – but close enough.
1:40 PM: I think we got something here …
1:41 PM: Hup. Never mind.
1:45 PM: Whoa, wait a second – WHAT was the yellow card for?
1:46 PM: And another save by Cillessen.
1:48 PM: Another scoring chance by Argentina squandered by a misplaced ball, and we’re at halftime.
1:57 PM: You know, this first half is indicative of most World Cup matches – a lot of methodical “back-and-forths” and little to no scoring chances. And, unfortunately, the spectacle that was yesterday’s other semifinal kind of spoiled this kind of play. I don’t know if Messi is biding his time, or he simply can’t find his spots like everyone else on the pitch today, but he hasn’t played much of a factor yet. Then again, neither have any of the big names on Clockwork Orange. I’m just hoping the pace will pick up in the second half, and we can see a sense of urgency from someone.
2:03 PM: When you really think about it, this is pretty much par for the course when you’re dealing with both Argentina and Netherlands matches. So, until we see a breakthrough, the action from the second half will likely be the same as the first.
2:05 PM: Okay, second half’s begun … and we got a body tackle by the Netherlands on an Argentina breakaway.
2:08 PM: Either that was a brilliant flop by Robben, or that was simply something the refs had to call. Either way, it’s a free kick for the Netherlands.
2:09 PM: And the free kick goes high. We’re still knotted at 0-0.
2:10 PM: Wow. Cillissen steps out of the goalie box, and ball headed toward goal barely goes wide. Lucky, lucky Dutch.
2:15 PM: There have been so many times in this match where I was imploring that something along the lines of a real scoring chance happen, only for it to get squashed before anything significant happens. Such is the nature of the futbol.
2:17 PM: That was La Albiceleste‘s best chance to score yet. A blocked header toward goal was all that stopped them from a 1-0 lead.
2:19 PM: I’ll admit, the pace has gone up a little.
2:22 PM: Man, that’s gonna hurt in the morning.
2:24 PM: So far, this has been one helluva defensive stalemate. No one can break through.
2:26 PM: Well, that was a pretty big gaffe by the Dutch right there. Can Argentina take advantage?
2:28 PM: Ouch. Another header turned into a collision of heads between opposing players.
2:28 PM: Nothing like turning the camera to the audience to make even fans of Brazil stand up and cheer.
2:30 PM: Argentina trying their best to draw first blood … but the Dutch defense just won’t let them do anything.
2:32 PM: Geez. That corner kick was nowhere near where it had to be. Then again, most corner kicks aren’t.
2:33 PM: Man – if Van Persie could’ve kept that kick down, Oranje would’ve gotten the lead.
2:34 PM: Wow – what looked like the first goal of the match was waved off by the officials. I still don’t really understand offsides calls as they happen.
2:40 PM: 10 more minutes, and we’re likely headed to extra time. Argentina better hope they can end this game before this gets to PKs …
2:43 PM: Close call in the 84th minute – Cillessen is there again to make the stop. He may not be Howard or Ochoa, but he’s reliable enough to make all the requisite stops during regular play.
2:47 PM: Stoppage time coming up soon … this is kind of where Argentina thrives, right? Near the end of the regular match?
2:49 PM: Right at the start of stoppage time, Robben gets his best chance of the match. Slide tackle saves Argentina’s World Cup lives. Those are the kind of near-misses that can inject new life into matches like this.
2:50 PM: Good punch out by goalkeeper Sergio Romero – all they need to do is stay alive for Extra Time.
2:51 PM: Last chance for Holland in regulation … nothing doing.
2:52 PM: Offsides call against Oranje all but ensures Extra Time, now.
2:55 PM: Man, they already lost the Brazilian team in the World Cup. If Messi goes down, too, well … who is Gatorade going to prop up for the final?
2:58 PM: Extra time has begun – Netherlands controls to start.
3:03 PM: Oranje‘s taking out Van Persie. Oh boy.
3:05 PM: The Netherlands has been having a hard time setting up goals all match long. More and more, I’m thinking their only chance is to take this to PKs.
3:07 PM: Perhaps I spoke too soon – another good crosser from Robben. Sure, it was saved by Romero, but still …
3:10 PM: I’m starting to feel like the urgency is more on the Netherlands’ side than it is on Argentina’s – which I find odd.
3:13 PM: Huntelaar with the yellow card. I don’t know about that one – he barely clipped the Argentinian player there.
3:14 PM: The cross was right there for Argentina to score – just a couple feet off. And, now we’re headed to the second period of Extra Time. Still 0-0.
3:16 PM: At this point, I believe that one of two things will happen: 1) Messi will come up with a last-second game-winning goal near the end of the second Extra Time period; or 2) The game goes to PKs, where I believe the Netherlands wins.
3:19 PM: Man, that was a helluva shot Zabaleta took. Does ESPN have to invoke the “Theismann Rule” on it?
3:26 PM: is this soccer in its truest form? The thrill of the 0-0 tie? I mean, I’m all for it, but at the same time, there haven’t been any eye-popping signature plays in this match. Am I crazy? Have I not been paying attention?
3:27 PM: Well, as soon as I say that … Cillessen saves another Argentina try.
3:28 PM: I’m starting to rethink my “Netherlands wins if they head to PKs” prediction. I just realized, Costa Rica won on PKs in a previous match, and then lost to the Netherlands. Perhaps the same happens to Oranje.
3:29 PM: Another opportune chance set up by Messi … and it’s saved by Cillessen. That ball could’ve slipped through his hands for the game-winning goal.
3:31 PM: I’m thinking everyone – the crowd included – wants to see a PK finish.
3:33 PM: And we’re headed to PKs, to decide who goes to the Finals. And there’s Krul. Not good for Argentina.
3:38 PM: Here we go. PK shootout. Wow – looks like Cillessen is going out there at goalie for the Netherlands.
3:39 PM: And Romero saves the first PK! And he does it with relative ease.
3:39 PM: Messi’s up first for Argentina … and … the crowd goes wild … GOAL!!!! So casual in his kick.
3:40 PM: Robben’s up for Holland … and he gets the goal! Tied at 1-1.
3:41 PM: Let’s see what Garay’s got here … GOAL!!! 2-1, Argentina. Right down the middle.
3:42 PM: Romero makes another amazing save against Sneijder! It’s Argentina’s match to lose, now.
3:43 PM: Aguero with the goal!! It’s 3-1, Argentina.
3:43 PM: One more block by Romero, and it’s over … goal, Netherlands! It’s 3-2, Argentina.
3:44 PM: One more point by Argentina here, and it’s over. Rodriguez with the shot … AAAAND … DONE!!! ARGENTINA WINS!!!! Wow – it bounced off Cillessen, then off the top crossbar, and into the net. That’s how you end a semifinal match.
It’s almost as if the Futbol Gods were backing a different South American team these past two days. Now Messi’s La Albiceleste squad will face off against an unassuming juggernaut in Die Mannschaft. With the way Argentina has been winning matches, though, I can only expect a low-scoring match in the Final.
Wouldn’t it be some cruel karma against Brasil if Messi gets the game-winning goal at the last second against Germany to win the El Copa Mundial? I doubt it, but anything’s possible after the futbol I’ve seen thus far in this World Cup.
I guess we’ll find out on Sunday: one of the world’s best players against one of the world’s best teams. This should be good.