In what was expected to be a close and exciting World Cup quarter final, it only lived up to one of its expectations. In an exciting game, that was stretched at times, Germany thrashed Argentina 4-0 and left Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi in a few tears.
It took less than 3 minutes before Germany were in front when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s free kick was headed in by Thomas Muller after some bad defending. In his post-match interview, Thomas Muller had no harsh words on Maradona despite the Argentina legend calling him a “ballboy” in March during a post-match interview of his own. If Maradona didn’t know who Muller was then, he certainly will now.
Defending was Diego Maradona’s weak point, and while many people around me were thinking Argentina would win this year’s World Cup, especially after Brazil’s exit last night, I replied with “Low will beat Maradona tactically”. Man to my word, I even lumped on Germany to win this one.
Argentina came close on occasions, even having a goal disallowed for offside in the first half. Four players clearly in an offside position from a set piece. Manuel Neuer made a few smart saves in the Germany goal although was never significantly tested. The German defence kept the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain quiet throughout. Angel Di Maria looked their liveliest threat, coming in from the right against Jerome Boateng, who was Germany’s weak point in the first half. His performance stepped up in the second half before being substituted for Marcell Jansen shortly after the second goal.
Germany’s second goal came midway through the first half with some great foot work on the floor by Thomas Muller to thread Lukas Podolski into the penalty area. The Polish-born forward had time to steady himself, squeezing the ball inbetween goalkeeper and defender and allow Miroslav Klose to tap in his 13th World Cup goal on his 100th appearance for Germany.
Argentina were falling apart at this point, and Bastian Schweinsteiger was able to stroll past two defenders from a corner before setting up Arne Friedrich to slide in Germany’s third. Schweinsteiger put in a match winning performance with two assists as he run the show from midfield. His closing down of players also gave Argentina little space to create opportunities of his own. A cert for the team of the tournament now, he’s also in with a shout for winning the player of the tournament award, previously having been voted young player of the tournament in 2006.
As Argentina pushed forward for a consolation late on, Mesut Ozil had time in the penalty area to put in a delightful cross for which Miroslav Klose volleyed in from close range, his 14th World Cup goal, on par with fellow countryman Gerd Muller and 1 behind the all-time top scorer, Ronaldo. He now has 4 goals in this year’s World Cup; 1 more than he scored in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich last season.
Spain: Remain Lethargic
While Germany cruised into the semi final, their opponents for Wednesday night, Spain narrowly beat Paraguay to give Europe three representatives in the semi final. In a first half that lacked any entertainment and that extended Paraguay’s run of goalless games to 2.5 with an extra time period, the game picked up on the hour when Gerard Pique stupidly pulled down Oscar Cardozo in the area to give Paraguay a penalty. Iker Casillas bailed his fellow countryman out as he saved Cardozo’s ensuing spot kick. Spain would break away and win one of their own when David Villa was hauled down by Sunderland-bound Antolin Alcaraz. Fortunate to receive only a yellow card, Xabi Alonso smashed in the penalty. Only for referee Carlos Batres ordering it to be retaken for encroachment. The following penalty would be saved and Paraguay were fortunate not to concede another when goalkeeper Justo Villar took out Cesc Fabregas on the rebound. Interestingly, there was encroachment on all three penalties. As there is on just about every penalty.
A lovely run from Andres Iniesta setup Pedro in the final 10 minutes, only for the Barcelona players shot to rebound off the post. The ball rebounded into the feet of the awaiting David Villa who curled his shot onto the post, rebounding across goal and in via the opposite post for his fifth goal of the tournament. He is now the tournaments leading goalscorer as predicted by many at the start of the tournament, with two games remaining for all four remaining teams to catch him.
An update on yesterday’s losses: they were more than paid off today.