2014 World Cup Semifinals: Argentina – Netherlands

The winner of today’s match will face a very formidable German team in the final on Sunday, July 13. The loser will play Brazil for 3rd place on Saturday. Yesterday’s trouncing of home team Brazil by 7 – 1 was the most lopsided World Cup semifinal game ever and devastated the Brazilian fans.

Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal, and Brazil’s Day Goes Dark

The fireworks began at dawn. All around this city, loud pops and bangs rang out as men and women and children, so many dressed in yellow, set off flares and beeped car horns. It was supposed to be a magical day. The Brazilian national soccer team, playing at home, was one game away from a World Cup final.

No one could have guessed the tears would come before halftime. No one could have imagined there would be flags burning in the streets before dinner. Certainly no one could have envisioned that any Brazilian fans, watching their team play a semifinal in a celebrated stadium, would ever consider leaving long before full time. [..]

At the very minimum, it will go down as Brazil’s worst loss, surpassing a 6-0 defeat by Uruguay in 1920. It was also Brazil’s first loss in a competitive home game since 1975, a stretch of more than 14,000 days. For more than six decades, Brazilians had been hoping to erase the embarrassment of their team’s defeat in the 1950 World Cup final – also against Uruguay – which denied them a championship the last time they hosted their favorite sport’s biggest tournament.

Somehow, the fans came away from this World Cup with a nightmare even darker.

The team’s humiliation continued on the internet with Twitter exploding with match becoming the most discussed sports event in Titter history with 35.6 million tweets most of them laughing at the team.

Here are some of the things to look for in today’s game:

How will Di María’s absence affect Argentina?

While Ángel Di María was Real Madrid’s best player in the Champions League final, he has been more fitful for Argentina.

Van Persie’s form

Robin van Persie began the tournament with the header to end all headers, that staggering swan-dive improvisation that sent the ball looping over a baffled Iker Casillas and Holland on their way to a momentous 5-1 crushing of Spain.

Higuaín and Lavezzi’s movement

Gonzalo Higuaín has never quite convinced in an Argentina shirt and there were many wondering whether he was worth his place leading into the quarter-final against Belgium.

Holland’s defence without Vlaar

Ron Vlaar has been a rock for Holland, marshalling their defence and using his experience to guide the younger players around him, so it will be a huge blow if a knee injury keeps him out on Wednesday night.

And some analysis from The Guardian‘s Zico:

Argentina v Holland: two teams on the up, both fancying their chances – it’s too close to call and I won’t dare predict a result. Our neighbours and the Dutch have deservedly made it to the semi-finals and Wednesday’s game in São Paulo promises to be an occasion we will remember for a long time judging by how the teams have fared at this World Cup.

Let’s start with Argentina. It was clear from the start that Lionel Messi would be their focal point in this tournament and he has delivered when they needed him most, either through vitals goals or assists, or making moves that opened up spaces or created chances for others. That latter scenario we saw in the game against Belgium. Gonzalo Higuaín was the scorer but Messi had created enough havoc to allow the Napoli striker to pounce on that ball.

A crucial factor for Argentina in the knockout stages has been the improvement in their defensive system. [..]

Holland’s graph is also rising but unlike Argentina they are not so dependent upon one player. In Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie they have an attacking trio that is clicking at the right time. [..]

In terms of fitness, Holland have been through some tough games under the north-eastern sun in Brazil but I haven’t seen them struggling as much as other teams. Even Germany looked more tired when they finished their quarter-final against France.

I think the Dutch have got enough in reserve to match Argentina – this could be even more intense than some games we have seen so far. Both teams have peaked at the right time and I reckon this semi-final could be decided by very tiny details.

The game coverage begins at 3 PM EDT with kick off at 4 PM.

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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm
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    Now for an hour of hype and ceremonies.

    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm
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    Robin Van Persie starts for Holland, despite those rumoured stomach problems, while Nigel de Jong, who strained his groin muscle in the second round against Mexico, returns to replace striker Memphis Depay.

    Argentina meanwhile make two expected changes: Enzo Perez comes in to replace the injured Angel Di Maria while Marcos Rojo takes the place of Jose Basanta.

    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:24 pm
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    Holland: Cillessen, De Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi, Kuyt, De Jong, Sneijder, Wijnaldum, Blind, Robben, van Persie.

    Subs: Vorm, Janmaat, de Guzman, Verhaegh, Veltman, Kongolo, Clasie, Lens, Huntelaar, Depay, Krul.

    Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Lavezzi, Messi, Perez, Higuain.

    Subs: Orion, Campagnaro, Gago, Maxi Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Federico Fernandez, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero, Basanta, Andujar.

    Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm
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    Argentina’s goal keep in bright yellow; Holland’s in bright green.

    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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    that lays him out on the field but he gets back up & returns to playing.

    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:22 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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    • TMC on July 9, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:09 am
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    and has some interesting comments:

    On going to overtime

    More good news for Germany! Not only are these two teams extremely poor, they’re playing an extra 30 minutes of football ahead of the final.

    and this bon mot

    This is what passes for entertainment tonight. In fairness, we were spoiled yesterday.

    Neither team seems very ambitious. I think that which ever tea Germany meets Sunday won’t matter much. If they play like yesterday and these guys play like today, the Cup woll be Germany’s.

    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:12 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:14 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:15 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:19 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:27 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:29 am
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    Two teams going nowhere in a quiet stadium. “I can’t help but notice that the Google Doodle in honour of this game shows Dutch and Argentine aliens who are completely unaware of the rudiments of football,” reports Philip N Gross. “Is the all-knowing search engine hinting at a sinister explanation for this dire display?”

    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:34 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:36 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:37 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:39 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:41 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:42 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:43 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:43 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:44 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:45 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:47 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:49 am
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    • TMC on July 10, 2014 at 12:52 am
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