Sport | Stage set for historic World Cup final but humiliated hosts miss out

Germany and Argentina will meet each other in a World Cup final for the third time as both sides came through their semi-final ties; albeit in contrasting fashion. While Holland took the Argentinians all the way to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes, Germany simply blew Brazil away and truly embarrassed the home nation on their way to a rousing 7-1 win.

Prior to kick-off in Belo Horizonte it had been widely acknowledged that Brazil hadn’t yet lived up to public expectations in the tournament.  It was suggested that Germany were likely to provide their toughest test of the competition and that they could struggle without suspended captain Thiago Silva and injured star man Neymar. However, few would have predicted that Joachim Löw’s men would inflict Brazil’s biggest ever World Cup defeat and score five goals within the first half hour. I have to concede that after a long day at work I managed to nod off with the score at 1-0. You can imagine my surprise when I awoke ten minutes later to see Sami Khedira slotting in Germany’s fifth.

The Germans played some great football, but in truth the Brazilians were as bad as they were good. Former Chelsea man David Luiz was handed the captain’s armband in Silva’s absence but his performance was smattered with a string of woeful mistakes and a clear lack of leadership; issues that were echoed throughout the Brazilian team. The classy Germans made the hosts pay as goals from Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose, Khedira and a brace from Toni Kroos set up a 5-0 lead at half-time before substitute André Schürrle netted twice in the second period to add insult to injury. Oscar scored for Brazil in the dying seconds but in truth it wasn’t even a consolation; Brazil had been humiliated before half-time. Tears came from fans and players at full-time as the nation were left to reflect on potentially their worst moment in football history. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is quoted as saying that it was the worst day of his life. He now has the job of picking up his players ahead of their third-place playoff match on Saturday. It is expected that for many players in the Brazil squad, that game could be their last in the famous yellow jersey.

With most of the footballing world still reeling in shock after the first semi-final, Holland and Argentina took us back to reality with 120 minutes of dour and goalless play. Both sides held good shape throughout the contest and the influence of key men Arjen Robben and Lionel Messi was quashed well by both teams. Robben and Argentine substitute Rodrigo Palacio squandered the best chances of the game with poor finishing as responsible as good defending and goalkeeping.

Holland coach Louis van Gaal chose not employ his quarter-final tactic of introducing Tim Krul to the action moments before the whistle in extra time, but he may wish he had done so as it is has been suggested that Jasper Cillessen may have done better with the last Argentinian penalty. Questions have also been raised about the Dutch after van Gaal announced that two players refused to take the first penalty. Cillessen’s opposite number was the true hero of the shootout. Sergio Romero saved two spot-kicks as Argentina booked their place in the final for the first time since 1990.

This amazing World Cup spewed up two contrastingly dramatic semi-finals which have set up a fixture that has the potential to be a truly fascinating showpiece. Let’s hope the drama continues as we wait to find out who will become the 2014 World Champions.


Peter White

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