Saturday, July 03, 2010

World Cup - Setting the Stage

This past Friday and today saw the quarterfinals of the global soccer tournament known as the World Cup. Uruguay met Ghana on Friday afternoon (local time), and in the later match The Netherlands met Brazil, the number one-ranked side on the planet.

I had hoped that Ghana would win, but a missed penalty kick on a blatant foul by the Uruguayan side left everything knotted up after extra time. It went to penalty kicks, and Ghana lost. So we've lost all the African, Oceanic, Asian and North American sides, leaving the South American and European teams.

The second Friday match was Holland against Brazil. I anticipated Brazil would beat the Dutch, who had the reputation of not being a very strong side. Well, I was wrong about Uruguay going through to the semifinals, so ...

The Dutch managed to shock the world, Sneijder scoring a header off a miscalculation by Felipe Mello and following it up with a strong goal to make it 2-1 late in the match. Mello got sent off with a red card after he stomped on Arjen Robben, but it was all over by that stage of the match. Holland goes through; Brazil (BRAZIL!) goes home.

Today we saw a match between two hardy perennials, Argentina (who've on two Cups) and Germany (who've won three). Mueller opened strong and scored in the third minute.

It would be another 65 minutes before Klose made it 2-0, and the rout was on.

The final was 4-0, and I was a bit disappointed that Diego Maradona's head didn't explode. Instead, he just seemed to get a bit smaller. Lionel Messi, widely regarded as a comer, didn't score a goal the entire tournament. Better luck in 2014, Lionel.

That left Spain to duke it out against Paraguay, and back and forth the seesaw battle raged. Paraguay was awarded a penalty kick, which was blocked by the Spanish keeper; the Spanish drove back down the pitch only to be fouled down in the box. Xabi Alonso made the kick count, but the goal was disallowed due to the other Spanish players encroaching on the box too soon. Alonso tried again, and the Paraguayan keeper earned his pay.

Finally David Villa managed to drive one home, and Spain won, 1-0.

So, the stage is being set. Here are the semifinal matches:

Uruguay v Netherlands: My pick, the Dutch
Germany v Spain: My pick, Germany


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