You would be forgiven for expecting a little more excitement in today’s World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Netherlands after the show Germany put on last night but alas that was not in store. Instead, we were treated to the baseball equivalent of a pitcher’s duel or the American football equivalent of a defensive field goal battle. It was at times called “tactical” by some and others called it a “chess match”. It should be called what it was, two teams with tremendous attacking players unable to fully exert their influence on a match.
Argentina had the lion’s share of chances as the match wore on but they could not capitalize on any of them. When they did threaten the Dutch goal, it was usually a play started by their midfield maestro Lionel Messi. Messi was anonymous at times but he would pop up from time to time with a lovely dribble or incisive pass but his teammates could not capitalize on his good work.
Luckily for Messi and Argentina, the stars on the Netherlands were ineffective as well. Robin Van Persie cut a forlorn figure up top and could scarcely get a touch of the ball. Arjen Robben, the star of the Dutch run in the World Cup so far, was also marked out of the match and could only muster one shot on goal for the entire match. This offensive ineptitude was a product of fantastic man marking by both sides with the Dutch putting two men on Messi at all times.
Both sides were given great chances to take the lead with Robben being denied by Javier Mascherano and Rodrigo Palacio denied by his own terrible decision to head a ball he could have taken on the volley. It seemed that this snoozefest of a match was destined to be decided on penalties and so it was. Jasper Cillesen had his chance to play the hero but he could not make the saves when it counted. Argentina moved on after four well taken penalties and they set up a date with their familiar foes in the World Cup Final.
Follow us on Twitter at @PrideOLondon
Like us on Facebook at The Pride of London