The World Cup is really hotting up now as favourites Brazil are now back home no doubt thinking what could have and arguably what should have been, while Argentina will be licking their wounds after a thorough thrashing by Germany
. The Germans displayed and demonstrated that the simple things done well by an organised side WILL win the day. Something a lot of the team in the World Cup should take note of.
The German side is not littered with world class stars and to be honest I don’t think any individual player would make a World XI, but as a team, they have so far proved too much for England
and Argentina in the knock out stages. With Klose and Muller only 1 goal shy of Spain’s David Vila’s leading goals scorer, the Germans are showing real promise and on form are now the hot favourites and boy do they deserve it.
So whilst Maradona’s return to the world stage as coach of Argentina has been great for world football and the spirit and passion he instills in his players is something the England coach could learn a lot from, the eye pleasing football by the likes of Messi and Tevez was not enough to over power a very well organised German side. Argentina out and no goals for Messi!
I’ve not even mentioned Brazil’s quarter final catastrophe. Falling victim to another well organised Dutch side. The Netherlands are living up to their pre-tournament favourite status and taking Brazil’s scalp, it would take a brave man to bet against them now. Facing Uruguay on Tuesday, they surely must fancy their chances of a place in the final. And of Uruguay, making their way to the semi-finals courtesy of Ghana after 120 minutes and a penalty shoot out, there is some injustice about that. Rules are rules, but in the circumstances, the rules were simply not fair. Ghana had scored a late winner in 120 +3 minutes, only for the Uruguayan forward to deliberately handle the ball on the line to stop a certain goal. His punishment was rightly a red card and penalty to Ghana. Sadly for the African side, the pressure was just too much for Gyan who rattled the bar, sending the game to penalties where Uruguay proved mentally stronger and go through.
Talking of penalties, last nights clash between a faultering Spain
and Paraguay, saw 3 penalties in open play. Another contentious issue. Paraguay took the first after a comical foul by Pique from a corner which was more at home in a wrestling ring that the 18 yard box. Unfortunately for Paraguay, the pressure was again too much and a tame penalty was saved. Replays later show a number of the Spanish players encroaching in the box BEFORE the ball was struck, technically requiring the spot kick to be retaken. It wasn’t. 90 seconds later, Spain had a penalty of their own, which was dispatched with ease by Xabi Alonso. Not so in the referee’s eyes who this time saw the encroachment and had the kick retaken.
This time the spot kick was not so convincing and the keeper make an inspiring save, seemingly keeping Paraguay’s hopes alive. Sadly it was short lived and David Vila extended his goals scoring to 5 and his price tag in the transfer market as Spain took the lead with just 8 minutes to play. In the end, Spain ran out winners, but some desperate defending late on and a double save from Casillas saw the Paraguay challenge nullified.
So we are down to 4 and only 2 South American representative left, its looking like an all European final!
Here are my semi-final predictions;
Netherlands 2 – 0 Uruguay
Germany 2 – 1 Spain.