A night after Germany thrashed Brazil, Argentina and Netherlands faced-off in a rather somber battle to secure a place in the final, of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Both nations employed a less ‘gung-ho’ approach and played a very defensive game throughout, possibly fearing a repeat of the previous night’s encounter. As a result, after 120 minutes of close calls and spectacular dives (*ahem *ahem Robben) the match went into penalties. Sensational
The same Dutch side that delivered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to defending Champions Spain was wearyingly reserved against the Argentines. They continued their goal-less streak since the quarter-final match against Costa Rica that they eventually won on penalties.
Manchester United forward Robin Van Persie had a quiet match and was substituted in the 96th minute for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Bayern Munich midfielder Arjen Robben got a few touches but was unable to reproduce his stunning form against Spain and Australia.
Van Gaal had the right game plan at the back, but unfortunately none of his forwards were able to seize any quality chances. Aston Villa Captain and centerback Ron Vlaar was one of his stand-out defenders.
We were expecting a ‘Messi’ affair but unfortunately Dutch boss Louis Van Gaal had plans for Leo. The Barcelona striker and four-time Ballon d’Or winner was kept at bay thanks to AC Milan’s Nigel de Jong and later his substitute Jordie Clasie. Ensuring Messi was unable to get a chance in the penalty area for the entire 120 minutes.
Argentine and Manchester City striker Sergio Kun Aguero replaced Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain in the second half, but was unable to break the deadlock. As the game went into penalties, Van Gaal was unable to substitute 25-year-old goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Newcastle’s Tim Krul as he had used all three substitutions. Krul recently gained notoriety after his aggressive penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica.
Cillessen has never saved a penalty in his career and things did not change for him last night. Messi scored with his first and only shot on goal! Dutchmen Wesley Sneijder and Ron Vlaar had their penalties saved by Van Gaal’s former protégé Sergio Romero (of Argentina).
According to BBC Sport, the incoming Manchester United boss claimed that two of his players refused to take the first penalty, ultimately leading Vlaar to take the first shot.
Netherlands failed to secure a spot in what could have been their second-successive final. We may see a repeat of the Italia’90 final when then (West) Germany won against Argentina.
Both teams will meet in Rio de Janiero after 24 years, in what will be the most hotly-anticipated clash of 2014!