10 July, 2014 - 09:40

Netherlands vs Argentina semifinal review: Too smart to be crazy

Argentina oust Netherlands on penalties to reach their first final since 1990.

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The second semi-final turned into sticky standoff with both teams being too good to allow their opponents penetration in the box. Both Netherlands and Argentina have been paving their ways through play-off stage with solid defensive display. However, after watching Brazil debacle the previous night, probably the managers ordered their players not to get involved in any sorts of attacking adventures to avoid opening space back in defense. In 120 minutes the teams managed just eight! shots on target. Mind you, with Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Gonzalo Higuain, Robin Van Persie, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Wesley Sneijder and a whole bunch of other talents on the pitch.

Argentina came close to opening the score in the second half as the Turkish referees, guided by infamous Cuneyt Cakir, waved off Gonzalo Higuain’s onside goal. Rodrigo Palacio failed to put the ball past Jasper Cilessen with clumsy header. Holland’s only chance in Arjen Robben’s attempts was denied by brilliant Javier Mascherano. That was probably it for 120 minutes of a game watched by millions of people worldwide. Louis Van Gaal, who impressed with his ability to rotate players and alter tactical schemes at the World Cup, opted not to repeat the Krul trick against Argentina and lost. Jasper Cillessen failed to deny any of the penalties, while Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder missed their chances to score. Argentina are now set for 1990 World Cup final replay against Germany.

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Last night we witnessed ultimate defensive performance that would take any catenaccio adept to ecstasy. The teams simply proved too strong to allow their opponents anything spectacular. If the frist semi-finals was a nuclear bomb, a night that will stand as one of the most humiliating and glorious nights in football history, the second will vanish in the haze of vain attempts to remember a single moment of brilliance. They were just too smart to be a littte crazy. Only the crazy get in history books.

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Author: Leon Smolski

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